01 March 2015

Hanagan and Sheikh Hamdan Claim Meydan Four Timer

Paul Hanagan rode an impressive four winners for HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum at Meydan’s Dubai World Cup Carnival on Saturday including victory in the featured Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy.

The 2810m Group 3 turf feature, the official prep for the Dubai World Cup day Dubai Gold Cup, went to Almoonqith who is trained by Mike de Kock.

Stepping up markedly in distance, Hanagan held his mount up in rear throughout the first half of the race, obviously travelling well within himself.

As the runners turned for home, Hanagan eased closer, still going strongly, before asking his mount to take up the running 400m out. They powered home to win comfortably, breaking the track record in the process.

“It has been an amazing evening,” said a beaming Hanagan. “To ride four winners for Sheikh Hamdan anywhere is brilliant but to do it here at Meydan on the world stage is extra special.

“We were pretty sure Almoonqith was going to stay the distance it was just a case whether or not he was good enough. As it transpired I was always happy and that was a big performance.”

Earlier Hanagan won the opening 1600m dirt handicap easily on Nolohay, trained by Musabah Al Muhairi.

Having his third local start and first on the dirt, Nolohay was able to make all and was sent for home at the top of the straight. That was a race-winning move and his six rivals had no answer.

“We were drawn widest of all but I was keen to get to the front and I was able to get across to the rail,” said Hanagan. “I wanted to be positive as we know he stays further.

“Obviously we were out of any kick back and he has handled the surface really well and skipped over it.

“It was a good performance and a great start to the evening.”

Owner and jockey promptly doubled up in the 2200m dirt handicap, the only none Dubai World Cup Carnival race on the card, with the Doug Watson-trained Jeeraan a gutsy winner.

Like Hanagan’s first winner, Jeeraan was drawn seven but was unable to get to the front with Aslan determined to lead.

Hanagan did find the rail though and when Aslan weakened 800m from home they were left in front. It was hard work in the straight but Jeeraan answered Hanagan’s every call.

“He is still improving and has a great attitude,” said Watson. “We hope he will be a Dubai World Cup Carnival horse next season and he goes really well on dirt.”

Jockey and trainer’s third winner was Ertijaal who led all the way in a 1200m turf handicap. Winner of the Listed 1400m HH The President’s Cup at Abu Dhabi on his previous outing, he was quickly away here and had most of his rivals in trouble at halfway.

With stamina obviously not an issue, Hanagan sent him clear with 400m left to run and they never looked in any danger of being caught.

Master Of War looked a danger briefly but was eventually run out of second by Fils Anges who endured traffic problems under Adrie De Vries.

“He has done that well,” said Hanagan. “He was always happy bowling along in front and then quickened well when I asked him. We know he stays further so I was pretty confident he would not be stopping.”

Trainer Watson completed a double with stable jockey, Pat Dobbs aboard Henry Clay, another winner who was never headed, in a 2000m dirt handicap.

Dobbs always looked happy out in front, seeming to set a steady rhythm before setting sail for home as the runners turned into the long straight. They skipped clear and with Henry Clay galloping strongly all the way to the line, they had the race in the bag in the final 200m.

“Pat has given him a great ride,” said Watson. “He is a very tough horse as he has shown throughout the season and once in front he is not easy to get past.”

Heavy Metal, winner of the Group 2 Richmond Stakes at Glorious Goodwood as a juvenile in 2012 when trained in England by Mark Johnston, made his local and dirt debut a winning one in a 1400m handicap.

Settled just off the furious early gallop by Mickael Barzalona, Heavy Metal made good progress halfway up the straight before hitting the front about 100m from home.

The pair won going away on his first outing for his new trainer Salem bin Ghadayer.

“They went very quick, said Barzalona. “He responded well when I asked and stayed on strongly.”

The meeting concluded with a 2000m turf handicap, with Haafaguinea and William Buick denying stable companion Silent Bullet. Both are trained by Saeed bin Suroor.

There are only two more meetings at Meydan Racecourse this season – next week’s Super Saturday fixture, followed by the world’s richest race meeting, Dubai World Cup night, three weeks later.