where the horse is always the hero
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Posted 2020-12-02 22:33:05  

One of the world’s most famous racehorses makes a somewhat surprising resurfacing on Thursday when Kerm Din’s Pakistan Star contests Meydan Racecourse’s 10-furlong The Entisar (Listed), the first in a series of local races pointing toward the 25th Dubai World Cup (G1) in March. A multiple G1 winner in Hong Kong before being ruled off the jurisdiction for various infractions, including refusing to race, he was transferred from trainer Tony Cruz to multiple UAE champion conditioner Doug Watson at the beginning of the year.

“We got him in January and we were going to try to point to a race at the beginning of April, but obviously with COVID(-19), that was nixed,” Watson recalled. “His coat really came on during the summer. Since he started back, he’s been no problem and has done everything right at home. His work has been exceptional and it’s hard to find anything to really go with him. He’s a pretty good work horse and looks like he gets across the (dirt) surface really well. We’re just going to have to see how he takes it and if he gets kickback. He’s a bit quirky, sure, because he looks at everything, but he hasn’t stopped in his training, which is great.”

The 7-year-old German-bred son of Shamardal has been working steadily toward his first engagement, which will be on the dirt—a surface he has trialed on in Hong Kong, but never raced upon. Most of said trials were at shorter distances than the 2000m he will travel Thursday evening, but he was remarkably consistent, beating a pair of Hong Kong Cup winners—Time Warp and Glorious Forever—in those runs. Three weeks ago, he went to Meydan to get a taste of the surroundings with a seven-furlong trial from the gate and was accompanied by a pair of stablemates, including recent HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum Cup winner Galvanize.

“We took him over to do a trial in front of the stewards and make sure he would do everything correctly, which he did,” Watson continued. “He broke great and worked with Galvanize and Dehbashi and basically pulled about seven lengths clear of Galvanize at the end of it, which is a pretty good gauge. He took a little kickback under Pat (Dobbs, jockey) and seemed to handle it alright. He trains right-handed at home, but he had no trouble turning left in the work. He didn’t hang and Pat really was impressed with him.

“He came back (to Red Stables) and did his last two pieces of work—so I know he’s fit enough,” he continued. “It’s just a matter of if he wants to do it. We’ll see on Thursday night. He moves really well across the dirt, so it will be good to get a race in him to see how he does on it, because turf races don’t start until January here. If he really likes it, it does open other doors.”

From 27 starts, Pakistan Star has a 5-5-1 record. In addition to his long-winded G1 wins in the 10-furlong Queen Elizabeth II Cup and 12-furlong Champions & Chater Cup, he has shown ample speed, including a seven-furlong handicap win in which he ran the second-fastest final 400m (1/4 mile) in Hong Kong history (at the time), 21.44 seconds.

While he is not expected to show such foot early on Thursday, it would not be a surprise if stablemate Just a Penny took the initiative. Owned by Mohd Khalifa Al Basti, the 8-year-old nine-time winner has already raced twice this season, including a fifth over seven furlongs and an open-length win over nine furlongs—both at Jebel Ali Racecourse.

Watson said: “The first year we had him, we took him to Meydan and we didn’t think he would get beat, but then he ran up the track. Since then, we’ve kept him mostly at Jebel Ali and he returned there (this season). He always needs that first race—we can’t do enough with him at home—and then he won well in his second start. (The Entisar) is an opportunity to give him a start back at Meydan and see how he handles it now. He has plenty of pace, too.” 

Pakistan Star and exercise rider Stuart Russell on Tuesday (Michael Adolphson)
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