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where the horse is always the hero
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Posted 2021-02-19 05:50:10  
It's A Blue Night again in Dubai

Thursday’s fifth meeting of the 2021 Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan was a high quality one, officially highlighted by the Group 2 Zabeel Mile sponsored by Al Tayer Motors.

Group 2 $163,000 Zabeel Mile (1600m T)

The contest turned out to be a thriller with D’Bai produced to lead in the dying strides by William Buick to snatch the spoils for Godolphin and Charlie Appleby.

Eleven faced the starter in the 1600m turf feature and the vast majority, at one stage or another, threatened to win with Jim Crowley allowed to set a modest tempo on Eqtiraan, a lead they only relinquished about 225m out. Art Du Val, a stable companion and James Doyle then made their bid for glory, leading for about 150m when snared by First Contact under Tadhg O’Shea. Meanwhile, Buick had switched D’Bai wide to make his challenge, avoiding any traffic problems and they finished to great purpose, thwarting First Contact close home to give Appleby his fifth win in the race in seven years, all bar one partnered by Buick. It was also a third consecutive Zabeel Mile for the trainer after Buick won the race in 2019 on Mythical Magic with James Doyle on last year’s winner, Zakouski.

A 7-year-old Dubawi gelding, he was registering his eighth career success and second at Group Two level having also landed the 1400m Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort in 2019.

Buick said: “He is the kind of horse you have to ride like that especially in that kind of race when you know they are not going to go very quickly.

“Once I had racing room on the outside I knew I had time to get there and he has really responded well when I needed him to.”

Group 2 $163,000 Balanchine (1800m T)

Also on turf, but restricted to fillies and mares, the 1800m Group 2 Balanchine sponsored by Range Rover also went to Appleby and Godolphin for a third consecutive year, this time James Doyle in the saddle aboard Summer Romance, Buick having partnered both Magic Lily last year and Poetic Charm in 2019.

Allowed an easy lead, Doyle was positive aboard the 4-year-old Kingman filly, committing her for home a long way out, the pair clear with 400m remaining and never in any danger. Stylistique, second most of the way round, stayed there, filling the same runners-up berth as she had in the 1600m Group 2 Cape Verdi three weeks ago, won by Appleby’s Althiqa, third here under Buick, her penalty for that success clearly not helping her chances.

Appleby said: “She was very keen and fresh first time, so just did not settle which took its toll. We have relaxed her this evening and James gave her a great ride. I imagine we will take her and Althiqa back to Europe now.”

Group 2 $163,000 Meydan Sprint (1000m T)

Only five went to post for the Group 2 Meydan Sprint sponsored by Land Rover, a 1000m turf dash and Equilateral, second in the 2020 renewal behind Waady who was fourth this time, went one place better with a smooth success under Andrea Atzeni. Atzeni was content to chase the trailblazing Caspian Prince for the first half of the race before allowing the 6-year-old Equiano gelding to stride to the front, after which they never really looked in danger of defeat.

Trained by Charlie Hills, he now runs in the colours of Fitri Hay and, having previously raced for his breeder Khalid Abdullah, as was the case last year, arrived here a month after having won the Dubai Dash over the same course and distance. This was a seventh and biggest career success for Equilateral who also chased home stable companion Battaash in the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot last June.

Atzeni said: “He jumped well, travelled strongly and took me to the front a long way out, probably earlier than I planned, but I did not want to disappoint him. That was a nice win against some decent sprinters.”

Group 3 $125,000 UAE Oaks (3-year-old fillies, 1900m D)

The second fillies’ Classic of the campaign thus restricted to 3-year-old fillies, the 1900m dirt Group 3 UAE Oaks sponsored by New Jaguar F-Type, was turned into a procession by Mnasek who scored a bloodless victory under Pat Dobbs, the pair far too good for six toiling rivals.

It was a third UAE Oaks success in six years for Dobbs, actually riding this filly for the first time in a race, and Doug Watson who also combined to land the race in 2016 with Polar River and Rayya two years later.

Owned by Al Rashid Stables, the daughter of Empire Maker won her debut, over 1400m, in December despite completely blowing the start. She was then very slowly away over 1600m in the Listed UAE 1000 Guineas, staying on late to snatch second.

However, she broke on level terms this time and, once switched off the rail about 1200m from home, soon loomed as a massive danger to Godolphin’s Last Sunset who hit the front, briefly, leaving the home turn. As soon as Dobbs said ‘go’ the race was over with Last Sunset losing second place close home to Nayefah who stayed on dourly having been held up in last.

Watson said: “The stalls team have been great helping us out and Pat worked her from the stalls on Saturday and she broke great, so we came here pretty confident.

“It all went perfectly and we have options now, obviously the UAE Derby, but there are some nice options in the States as well, so we can have a good think, but enjoy this first.”

Group 3 $130,000 Al Shindagha Sprint (1200m D)

Watson and Dobbs completed a big race dirt double, combining to land the concluding Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint sponsored by New Land Rover Defender, over 1200m on the dirt, with Al Tariq who had opened his UAE account, at just the third attempt, on his previous appearance when taking the 1000m Listed Jebel Ali Sprint, just 13 days ago.

Always travelling strongly under Dobbs, just behind the frantic early gallop set by Important Mission and Bochart, he eased past the latter before having to dig deep to finally collar the former in the final 50m. Hot favourite, Gladiator King, ran on for third, but never really threatened to defend the crown he won last year.

That success actually denied Watson and Dobbs a fourth consecutive win in the race having scored with Cool Cowboy in 2017, My Catch the following year and Drafted in 2018, so they have now landed four of the last five renewals.

Of the 5-year-old Oasis Dream gelding Dobbs, still wearing the orange silks of owner Abdul Mohsen Al Abdul Kareem, said: “It was a nice surprise at Jebel Ali after he had a setback earlier in the season, but Doug and his team have done a great job.

“This was a very good performance because I was always travelling strongly and then he quickened off that fast pace.”

$88,000 Curlin Stakes Listed Handicap (2000m D)

Over the same 2000m dirt course and distance as the Dubai World Cup, the Curlin Stakes sponsored by New Jaguar F-Pace, a Listed handicap went to the impressive seasonal debutant New Trails, a superb training feat from Ahmad bin Harmash.

Not seen in public for 348 days, Bin Harmash’s charge actually contested the 2019 Dubai World Cup, but disappointed in all five outings last season. This, his fourth career success, was his first since January 2019.

A 7-year-old Medaglia D’Oro gelding, he was settled on the rail by Fernando Jara, but had plenty of ground to make up in the home straight where early leader Tailor’s Row was being challenged by Godolphin duo Dubai Icon and Real World, who finished second and third respectively. Suddenly Jara burst through them all, grabbing the initiative with 200m remaining from eventual fourth Tailor’s Row, his mount running on strongly to win relatively comfortably.

Jara, who won the Dubai World Cup in 2007 aboard Invasor and was UAE Champion Jockey the following, season said: “That is a great effort from the whole team to get him back and ready after so long off. He is a nice horse as he has shown in the past, so it is great to see him do it again on the track.”

New Jaguar XF Handicap (1600m D)

A cracking card, it kicked off with the New Jaguar XF, a 1600m dirt handicap, won cosily by Hypothetical who may not have won by far, but appeared well on top at the death, having led in the final 50m.

Confidently ridden by Mickael Barzalona in the silks of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum for Salem bin Ghadayer, saddling his 100th UAE winner, the 4-year-old Lope De Vega colt was settled in fifth before closing on the leaders as they turned for home. Barzalona’s mount found plenty when asked and always looked likely to catch Godolphin’s Bright Start who had been in front since about the 300m pole.

A course and distance handicap winner on his local debut, early last month, he was fourth in the Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile before returning to Meydan, a fortnight ago, to finish second in the Group 3 Firebreak Stakes, also over this 1600m.

Barzalona said: “We knew there was going to be a good gallop, so I was happy to settle in behind and that generous pace has really suited him.

“He is a very tough horse who will stay further in time, but I imagine we will stick to the 1600m for now and, hopefully, look towards the Godolphin Mile.”  

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