where the horse is always the hero
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Posted 2023-01-22 18:46:55  
South African Herholdt wins in Dubai after 21 years

Sunday meetings give an opportunity for some different names to get on the scoresheet at Meydan Racecourse and jockey Francois Herholdt had plenty to celebrate after riding his first UAE winner for more than 20 years... followed by his second.

Successful here back in 2001, when racing took place at the Nad Al Sheba track, this was a first Meydan win for the South African, who is based in Ras Al Khaimah with trainer Rashed Bouresly. Riding Invincibly in the featured Lincoln Navigator Handicap, over 2000metres on turf, they were one of several partnerships to win from the front on the seven-race card. Kicking clear in the final furlong, the five-year-old was too strong at the line for second Poster Paint and hot favourite Sense Of Wisdom, who flew home too late under William Buick.

Herholdt, who originally travelled to the UAE to work for trainer Mike De Kock, was elated by the win, saying: “I’ve raced across the world and I’ve never ridden at a place as beautiful as Meydan, to win here under the lights is awesome, it’s one off the bucket list.”

Herholdt made it two later on, giving trainer Mohammad Mardood his first win when guiding Celtic Voyager (pictured) to success in the closing Lincoln Presidential Handicap, over 1200metres on turf.

Mardood, a graduate of the Godolphin Masar programme, is in his first season with a licence and inherited Celtic Voyager from De Kock, to whom he was formerly assistant. The gelding had been well-beaten on his most recent start, over course and distance two weeks ago, but despite drifting towards the standside rail he was able to reel in Persian Empire by a neck.

“I’m very happy for Mohammad. It’s his first winner and all the owners are here,” said Herholdt. “Let’s hope this will open the door for more winners for him. He [Celtic Voyager] jumped out a little sluggish but when I asked him for an effort he shot through.”

Of his own plans, he added: “This will be my last season riding as jockey. I’ve got a good opportunity as a work rider in China.”

Three of the evening's winners were returning after just a week’s break. One of them was Zucchini, who won for the second time in six days in the Lincoln Nautilus Handicap, over 2000metres on turf.

Trainer Ahmad Bin Harmash opted to switch the gelding to grass for the first time in three years and he seemed to enjoy it, bowling along in front under Ray Dawson. Both Last Light and Dublin Pharoah threw down challenges close home but Zucchini was too strong by a neck.

“He’s got a lot of early speed and it kind of worked to our advantage today being drawn wide,” said the jockey. “If anything, not like at Jebel Ali, we got quite an easy lead. He just got into a lovely rhythm with me and was very tough at the end as well.”

Dawson had earlier hit the crossbar on Vasilakos, who was second to Grand Dubai in the Al Tayer Motors Handicap, over 2000metres on dirt. The Musabbeh Al Mheiri-trained five-year-old had been second here a week ago and this time made every post a winning one under Bernardo Pinheiro, sticking out his neck for a length and a quarter success.

“Thank you to the yard and the trainer, who did an amazing job bringing him back after just a week,” said the jockey. “I was a bit worried about a fast pace today, but he jumped out really well and at the 600metres mark he took hold of the bit and I could feel he was going to fight.”

It was a third Meydan winner of the weekend for Pinheiro, who also won the opening Purebred Arabian contest for trainer Majed Al Jahouri, just as he had at the Carnival on Friday. For much of the 1900metre Lincoln Aviator-sponsored race it looked as if AF Mouhayer and Tadhg O’Shea had stolen it from the front, but when he tired close home Rajee took advantage and crossed the line a length ahead.

It was also a Red Letter day for jockey Gabriel Malune who rode his first UAE winner when Legend Of Cannes took the Lincoln Corsair Maiden, over 1600metres on turf. Making his third appearance, the son of Cairo Prince was another to win from the front, charging into the straight well clear of his rivals and having plenty in hand at the line, beating stablemate Sharar by two lengths.

“I was surprised to see him so hot beforehand,” said winning trainer and owner Fawzi Nass. “But it’s nice to get the win with him and he’ll be a mile and a quarter horse next season.”

Salem Bin Ghadayer and Mickael Barzalona’s season is going along swimmingly and they combined for a third winner of the weekend when Hyde Park led from gate to wire in the Lincoln Handicap, over 1600metres on dirt. Twice successful at Jebel Ali, this was a first Meydan win for the nine-year-old who had bottom weight here and never looked like being caught, cruising home by two lengths from Triple Venture.

“He’s a lovely horse and I knew I could probably take the lead,” said the Classic-winning rider. “I went a good gallop but I was happy where I was and he stayed on well.

“Salem’s way of training the horses means it suits them well, with their level of fitness, to be on the lead.” 

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