Gladiator King Reigns In Group 3 Dubawi; Major Partnership And Universal Order Land Listed Affairs

DUBAI (January 2, 2020)—Thursday’s first meeting of Meydan Racecourse’s eagerly awaited 2020 Dubai World Cup Carnival was highlighted by the Group 3 $200,000 Dubawi Stakes sponsored by Emirates NBD Private Banking. Over 1200m on the dirt track, the prep for the $2.5 million Dubai Golden Shaheen sponsored by Gulf News was won in gritty fashion by G3 Hutcheson Stakes-winning American import Gladiator King, who gave trainer Satish Seemar an unprecedented sixth win in the race, which was inaugurated in 2011.

Making his local debut and first start in the colours of Ajman’s Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, the 4-year-old Curlin colt chased the early pace under Mickael Barzalona before powering to the front about 250m from home and then finishing his race off in good style. Last-out Garhoud Sprint (Listed) winner Ibn Malik rallied gamely for second, but fell a neck short at the wire. Off slowly under Pat Dobbs, favourite Drafted finished a game third another 1½ lengths back. The final time was 1:11.29.

“We knew the race wasn’t going to be easy, but he was sharp and looked great,” Barzalona said. “I think he will come on a lot from this race, so I’m looking forward to next time. On the bend, I was travelling really comfortably and I knew he was a danger. I knew Drafted would be coming from behind, but he found an extra gear. He travels strong.”

Seemar added: “You know, when you first get a horse, there’s always a little worry and a little doubt, but this horse was training so well and really coming around. It feels great to get a win for Sheikh Rashid.”

Crowley and Dobbs were pleased with their mounts’ efforts, while both are likely to have a rematch with the winner in four weeks’ time in the Al Shindagha Sprint (G3) over the same trip.

“He ran really well,” Crowley said. “Obviously, he had the worst draw in nine and he probably covered a bit more ground than the winner did. Good run. It is nice that he is back in here and we’ll look ahead to some nice runs together.”

Dobbs added: “He ran super and was just a bit ring-rusty early. He got away slow and they got away from me. He took loads of kickback, which he doesn’t like. I thought I could maybe still get there, but he got tired the last furlong. He picked up really good, but he obviously missed a few weeks and felt that in the last furlong.”

Two $175,000 Listed races on turf sandwiched the Dubawi, the 1400m Meydan Challenge sponsored by Emirates NBD Asset Management and 2410m Dubai Racing Club Classic sponsored by Emirates NBD Wholesale Banking.

The Meydan Challenge was won in impressive style by 2019 DWC Carnival winner Major Partnership, carrying the Godolphin blue with jockey Pat Cosgrave for Saeed bin Suroor. Riding the rail through the lane after patiently waiting for room, the grey Irish-bred son of Iffraaj pushed clear to win by 1½ lengths over Zainhom, with G1 winner Suedois running admirably in third under top weight.

“I think he’s a better horse this year,” Cosgrave said. “He looks better, feels better and moves better. I had a lovely run down the fence and it worked out nicely.”

Bin Suroor added: “That was a great ride from Pat and we are obviously very happy. This horse has plenty of speed, so we thought this 1400m was ideal and so it worked out.”

Capping the evening was the DRC Classic, which was won in impressive late-running style by David Simcock-trained Universal Order by 1¼ lengths. Finishing a game second was favoured William Haggas pupil Pablo Escobarr, while well-fancied multiple DWC Carnival winner Mountain Hunter could only manage fifth. Richard Mullen was up on the winner.

“I watched his replays this morning and he seems to have his best runs in small fields,” Mullen said. “You just have to drop him out and give him time to relax, because if you put him in the race, he gets tense. He’s still learning about the game. I think potentially bringing him out him will be the making of him. The whole atmosphere is relaxing and will make a man of him. I let the race develop as it happened and felt that they went an even tempo. I switched him off early and gave him time to relax. This horse has potential and a bright future.”

The 1400m UAE 1000 Guineas Trial sponsored by Emirates NBD Business Banking began the evening and was an official launching point for classic-minded fillies. Godolphin’s Final Song struck early for Godolphin and Bin Suroor, settling behind the pace before slicing toward the inside and splitting well-regarded front-running pair of Down on Da Bayou and Rio Angie, who held on for second and third. Christophe Soumillon was in the irons, winning by 1¾ lengths in a smart time of 1:24.44.

“With that draw, it’s never easy for a filly like her,” Soumillon said. “(It was her) first time on dirt and we knew she had some speed. I tried to work with that, but unfortunately two or three horses from the inside tried to keep their position, so I was about four-wide. I gave her a little chance on the turn and didn’t want to go too wide. She took the kickback in the face and responded really well to it. In the straight, I took a shortcut and it worked well. For her, if you really want to know if she can go further, it was a good idea to (take her back) and see what she can do. Today she handled the best fillies in town and I’m sure she will handle 200m more (in the Listed $250,000 UAE 1000 Guineas on Jan. 23).”

Bin Suroor added: “We told the jockey to look after her and keep her handy. She handled the dirt really well. Even the mile would be good for her in the future. The jockey gave her a good ride. The way she won, she’s going to be a nice filly in the future, even going farther. No problem for the mile, maybe further. She could get to nine (furlongs), no problem.”

The Emirates NBD Personal Banking, a 1000m turf handicap, was won impressively by Almanaara, trained by Doug Watson for HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Never far off the pace under Dane O’Neill, retained as second jockey by the owner, the grey charge overcame his undesirable one-post to win like a sure thing at the wire by 1¾ lengths. Eleven-year-old fan favourite Caspian Prince of Mick Appleby’s UK-based yard held well for second, while Spain’s Blueberry, trained by Guillermo Arizkorreta, completed an international trifecta.

Watson said: “This was a horse who always used to work really well, but perhaps not so much lately, so we decided to try him on turf and it has worked out well. It is great to get a Carnival winner for Sheikh Hamdan.”

Watson was soon celebrating a double, combining with Brett Doyle to land the following Emirates NBD Priority Banking, a1900m dirt handicap, with Grand Argentier. Overcoming missing the break, the EERC-owned campaigner got up in the shadow of the wire for his jubilant connections. The Seemar-trained duo of Above Normal and Saltarin Dubai completed the top three.

EERC (Emirates Entertainment Racing Club) spokesman Justin Byrne said: “We are obviously delighted because nothing seemed to go right throughout the race. He missed the break and had to be ridden to get into contention and then looked short of room, but he has really stuck his head down in the final stages and we have to credit Brett for a great ride.”

The second night of the Dubai World Cup Carnival will take place on Thursday, Jan. 9 (6:30 p.m. post), while the next night of Racing at Meydan is this Saturday, Jan. 4 (5:30 p.m. post).