The final meeting of the 2009 Dubai International Racing Carnival, Super Thursday, was kindly sponsored by Shadwell Farms and a cracking night’s racing served as the perfect aperitif for the final meeting ever at Nad Al Sheba – Dubai World Cup night – on 28th March.
The official feature was the Group 2 Maktoum Challenge III - Invasor, over 2000m on dirt and a race won three times previously by subsequent Dubai World Cup winners.
It was won this year by Mike De Kock’s Asiatic Boy, runner-up to Curlin in the 2008 Dubai World Cup and set to bid to go one better this year according to his trainer: “The Dubai World Cup has been his target ever since last March and that run should have put him spot on. To win from that draw was a great effort.”
Johnny Murtagh rode that winner, while Kevin Shea was in the saddle on stable companion Front House who had won the Group 2 Dubai City of Gold - Swain, the prep for the 2400m turf Dubai Sheema Classic, 30 minutes earlier.
Shea was content to track the pace on the four-year-old filly before quickening clear 400m out – after which they never appeared likely to be caught.
Shea explained: “She is a nice filly and hopefully improving. She has improved for each of her two previous runs and hopefully we can look at the Dubai Sheema Classic now.
The Group 2 Jebel Hatta - Daaher, over the same 1,777 turf course as the Dubai Duty Free, concluded the meeting and Balius (pictured, image: DRC/Watkins), on his local debut for rookie trainer Abdulla Bin Huzaim, made a winning start.
Willie Supple, completing a double, was in the saddle and explained: “He is a nice horse with some very good form in the book and he has quickened nicely there. We will have to look at the Duty Free with him.”
The 1800m Al Bastakiya- Jazil, on dirt and the middle leg of the UAE Triple Crown, was the first Thoroughbred race and the one in which Supple initiated his brace on Mubarak Bin Shafya’s Soy Libriano.
The Group 3 Mahab Al Shimaal - Dayjur, over 1200m on dirt, was won last year by Godolphin with Diabolical but that horse could only manage third this year under Frankie Dettori.
However, Ted Durcan and stable companion Gayego, on his first start for the team, did land the spoils and trainer Saeed Bin Suroor was pleased: “He is a nice horse with a lot of speed. We thought he might need the run as he is a big animal so hopefully he can improve.”
Bin Suroor and Godolphin, with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai present, were completing a double after City Style and Dettori won the inaugural Meydan Classic - Mustanfar, a 1500m turf conditions race for three-year-olds.
Racing opened with the only Purebred Arabian race on the card, the Group 1 version of the Al Maktoum Challenge III - Kayrawan, like its Thoroughbred counterpart over 2000m on dirt.
Given His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum-sponsored the meeting, it was fitting that his Santhal, trained by Erwan Charpy and ridden by Tadhg O’Shea, led in the last stride to secure the prize.
The owner was to complete a double when his retained jockey, Richard Hills, won the 1600m Burj Nahaar - Intidab, a Group 3 dirt contest, on the Musabah Al Muhairi-trained Snaafy who was winning his third 2009 Carnival race and will probably be aimed at the Godolphin Mile.