New Trails Blazes To Opening Night Feature Victory; Watson Wins Four

Meydan Racecourse hosts its first meeting of the 2018-19 season
Dubai, UAE (November 1, 2018)—Racing at Meydan returned on Thursday evening with a seven-race card, all on the dirt surface, highlighted by the emirates.com, a handicap over the same 2000m dirt course and distance as the world’s most valuable horse race, the US$12 million Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates Airlines, and won by New Trails on his local bow.

A winner on debut for Andre Fabre and Godolphin as a juvenile in November 2016, he ran twice the following year and this, his first outing for Ahmad bin Harmash, was a first racecourse appearance since May 2017; an absence of 549 days.

Settled by Connor Beasley, just off what looked a strong early gallop dictated by Royston Ffrench aboard Montsarrat, he was on hand to grab the initiative when that rival started to weaken early in the straight and soon opened up what proved a decisive advantage.

It was then just a case of whether he could keep going and he gamely did so, while appearing to understandably tire in the final 200m. Street Of Dreams who ran well went on to take second.

“He was brave in the closing stages as he was getting tired,” said Beasley, who was completing a double for both himself and the trainer. “Obviously we are delighted with a double and hopefully there are plenty more to come this season.”

Bin Harmash added: “This is a nice new horse for us this season and we knew that if he could produce the levels he had shown us in his work at home, he would run well. He has trained well on dirt, but until you race them on it, you never know. Hopefully he can build on this.”

The evening had commenced with a 1400m maiden, the Emirates Holidays, which attracted a select field of five juveniles, all making their debut. Phoenix Ladies Syndicate enjoyed the perfect start to racehorse ownership with Walking Thunder, their very first runner, winning emphatically under Beasley to initiate the double.

Saddled by Bin Harmash, the 2-year-old son of Violence hit the front at about the halfway point. It only required a shake of the reins from Beasley halfway up the straight to settle the contest and the pair posted a comfortable victory in a winning time of 1:26.23.

Syndicate manager, Pamela Cordina, said: “We are all delighted to have our first win at Meydan with our very first runner! We had a lot of faith in the horse and he has proved us right. Our trainer Ahmad bin Harmash has done an amazing job with him and Connor Beasley gave him the perfect ride. We look forward to an amazing season here in the UAE after a perfect start.”

Bin Harmash added: “We were quite hopeful because he had been working well and improving all the time but it is never easy for a 2yo first time so out so we have to be very pleased. It is the perfect start to both my Meydan season and, of course, for the owners who have about a dozen horses here in the UAE.”

The Emirates Skywards, a 1600m handicap was won by Syncopation in impressive style. Hitting the front 200m out and running on strongly under George Buckell, for whom it was a first mount of the season and only ride on the card.

“I am based at Red Stables with Doug this season, which is brilliant,” Buckell said. “I worked this horse the other day and he went very well, so I was quite hopeful, but he surprised me just how well he picked up.”

Watson added: “He did that quite nicely under an excellent ride from George from a bad draw. The horse won a maiden here last season so we knew he handled conditions and it is nice to get that first winner on the board.”

Watson wasted no time completing a double and this time it was stable jockey, Pat Dobbs, aboard the overpowering Big Brown Bear, who pawed his way to the front and proved far too good for 11 rivals in the Arabian Adventures, a 1400m maiden for the older horses. The final margin for the long well-regarded son of Tiznow was five lengths, finishing up in 1:26.57.

“This is a nice horse and one we hope will have a big season,” Watson said. “We were pretty confident coming here this evening and he has not let us down.”

Watson then made it three consecutive victories by landing the Emirates Airline, a 1200m handicap, with Stunned, completing double for both jockey, Dobbs and owner, Al Basti. Drawn one, Dobbs wasted no ground, sticking to the rail throughout, pouncing when proper and finishing with authority. It was a third course win for the horse and second over 1200m, while he has also won over 1400m both at Meydan and Jebel Ali but had not tasted success since February 2017.

“We did not have the best of campaigns with him last season, but he has always shown us plenty of ability,” Watson said. “We had a great post in stall one and he is happy to travel in behind horses and face the dirt. The gap opened up on that rail and Pat has given him the perfect ride.”

Watson, who had to settle for second and third in the feature, made it four on the night with Dobbs completing a treble aboard Pillar of Society. Well away and always travelling strongly in front, Dobbs was able to get across from a wide draw to grab the rail and committed for home early in the straight. Rodaini, for Beasley and Bin Harmash, tried to overhaul him in the final 200m, but Dobbs’ mount ran on too strongly in the colours of EERC (Emirates Entertainment Racing Club).

EERC spokesman Justin Byrne said: “This was actually one of the horses I suggested people look out for this campaign; he did little wrong last his season, his first in the UAE, but so many horses improve after a Dubai winter. Credit to ‘Dobbsie’ because that was a very good ride and now he has won on dirt it opens up more options because his turf form is very good.”

The finale, the Emirates SkyCargo, a second 2000m handicap on the card, produced arguably the easiest winner of the evening and what could be a promising sort in 3-year-old filly Litigation, who dominated in the lane under Chris Hayes, riding for Jaber Ramadhan. A daughter of Foxwedge, she had made a winning debut, in March, on the Southwell fibresand, the first of six starts in the UK for James Tate and was also placed on turf.