By Duane Fonseca
Jebel Ali Stables resident trainer Michael Costa might add ground and give Mersaal a longer assignment on his next racecourse appearance after admitting he was satisfied with the manner in which he claimed one of the feature events at home last Saturday. Breaking widest among the eight in the field, the recently gelded 4yo son of Ghostzapper made it two in two starts in Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s yellow silks when getting the better of 2020 Group 3 UAE Oaks heroine Down On Da Bayou.
Patiently ridden at the rear of the field by Jean van Overmeire, Sheikh Ahmed’s retained rider for the UAE, Mersaal was asked for an effort 600m out in the handicap 1600m. He progressed smoothly and came up with a winning run down the centre, contesting the lead with Down On Da Bayou before getting the better of the 5yo mare with relative ease going on to win by three parts of a length.
“I think we will look for a mile race if not a handicap over a little bit further at Meydan. I wouldn‘t mind seeing how he handles Meydan as well and if he can win over there it would be another feather in his cap as well,” Costa told Adiyat Racing Plus.
Gelding Mersaal appears to have brought the best out of him and Costa cannot wait to see how he develops. “He was one of the horses which hadn’t run and it was interesting to learn from feedback from the stable staff how he went and to be fair there wasn’t a really big rap on the horse when we first came, but he has just progressed,” Costa said.
“He was a little bit tricky during track work and threw off a few riders and things like that, but when he came for his jump outs he developed. We thought the 1200m on his first start might be a bit sharp for him but he was off the bridle chasing and he managed to get the job done so we knew he was going to improve.
“It’s a challenge for horses to go from a maiden to a handicap and get the outside gate, so he had everything going against him Saturday, but the instructions were that if he jumped well he would lay up and if he didn’t then Jean would have to be patient, but we were afforded a 10 out of 10 ride and the job was done. I did think Saturday could have been a bridge too far going into a handicap against some decent horses. I think we’ll look to stretch him out a little bit more.”