Rio Tigre, Pouvoir Magique, Azmaam Top Saturday Feature

Racing at Meydan on Saturday, a seven-race card, is highlighted by a turf handicap over 1800m, the Healthpoint Better Together Cup. Sixteen are declared, the maximum allowed, headed by a trio already in possession of handicap mark sufficient to make them eligible for races at the Dubai World Cup Carnival.

Trained by Sandeep Jadhav and the mount of Royston Ffrench, Rio Tigre is seeking a fourth victory this season, having twice won over 1800m at Jebel Ali and, on his penultimate start, a 2000m turf handicap here at Meydan. Last out, he found 2810m too far in a Carnival handicap.

“The drop in trip should certainly be in his favour and he has been in good form this season,” Jadhav said. “He is a good horse and this looks a nice opportunity for him, but it does appear a strong field.”

Fawzi Nass will be hoping for a change of fortune with Vale Do Sol, sixth behind Rio Tigre over 2000m on his penultimate start and third more recently over 2400m, also on the Meydan turf. Denied a clear run on both occasions, he again receives the services of Adrie de Vries.

“He has run well on both his latest starts, but we have been unlucky in running each time,” De Vries said. “He should be competitive in a tough looking race.”

Doug Watson saddles four, including Basateen, who will concede weight to his 15 rivals under Pat Cosgrave. Stable jockey Pat Dobbs elects to ride Pouvoir Magique, while Sam Hitchcott opts for Mustarrid and Fernado Jara will be aboard Mutamakkin. Dobbs’ mount, a 5-year-old gelded son of Le Havre, will be having just his second local outing having finished an excellent fourth in a 1600m turf handicap, running on strongly for Dobbs and suggesting the extra 200m will suit.

That 1600m turf handicap was won by Azmaam, trained by Musabbeh Al Mheiri and again in opposition. Like Basateen, already carnival qualified, he carries the famous blue and white silks of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum , ut both have been overlooked by the owner’s retained jockeys, Jim Crowley and Dane O’Neill. Crowley, aboard Azmaam for that victory, has chosen to ride Muzdawaj, also trained by Al Mheiri. O’Neill, meanwhile, takes the mount on Tafaakhor, on whom he was third in the race won by Azmaam two starts ago for Ali Rashid Al Rayhi.

South African trainer Mike de Kock adds extra intrigue to the contest by saddling Conclusion for the second time. The 4-year-old Deep Impact colt seemingly found 1400m too sharp on his local debut a fortnight ago and will be piloted by Olivier Doleuze when he stretches out 400m on Saturday.
The concluding 1200m turf handicap, the Al Maryah Island Trophy Handicap, also attracted a maximum field of 16 and, again despite two non-runners reducing the number to 14, looks wide open. Sheikh Hamdan responsible for five runners and Crowley rides for Al Mheiri, this time on Thammin, while O’Neill and Al Rayhi team up again with Mustallib.

The weights are headed by Dutch Masterpiece, a 1000m turf winner at the 2018 Dubai World Cup Carnival for Jaber Ramadhan. Rated 98 for that success, the 9-year-old Dutch Art gelding finds himself back on the same mark, having failed to really fire in three outings this season. Stable companion Big Time has failed to fire in two starts over 1400m this season, but did win a course and distance handicap at a non-Carnival meeting in March. An 8-year-old gelded son of Kheleyf, he may appreciate reverting back to 1200m.

Nass and De Vries combine with Legendary Lunch who, on just his second start for his new handler, obliterated 13 rivals in what had appeared a competitive 1400m handicap on the Abu Dhabi turf. Victorious over 1200m in the Listed Woodcote Stakes on Epsom Derby weekend as a juvenile in 2016, the now 5-year-old Dragon Pulse horse was beaten less than a length when chasing home Ardad in that year’s Group 2 Flying Childers Stakes.

Thrice a Jebel Ali winner for Satish Seemar and Mohd Khalifa Al Basti, Ejbaar chased home Big Time over course and distance just over a year ago. His most recent turf outing was victorious, over 1400m at Jinma Lake in China last April.