31 January 2019

Drafted Provides Watson An Al Shindagha Hat Trick; France's Silva Says Au Revoir In UAE 1,000 Guineas; Phoenix Ladies Go Platinum With Golden Jaguar

The fifth meeting of the 2019 Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan on Thursday was highlighted by the 1200m Al Shindagha Sprint sponsored by Jebel Ali Port (G3), which was won impressively by Drafted, a third consecutive winner in the dirt dash for trainer Doug Watson and stable jockey Pat Dobbs. Also on the card was the first classic of the UAE season, the Listed UAE 1,000 Guineas, as well as the Meydan Classic Trial for turf 3-year-olds, a Group 1 affair for Purebred Arabians and a triad of competitive handicaps which could have Dubai World Cup night implications.

$200,000 Al Shindagha Sprint (G3)

Having combined with Cool Cowboy in 2017 and 2018’s My Catch, who led until the 300m pole this time, Drafted completed the treble in good style for trainer Doug Watson and jockey Pat Dobbs. A 5-year-old gelding by Field Commission, he looked outpaced for the first half of the race before staying on strongly, with the pair hitting the front halfway up the straight and finishing powerfully. The early pace was a swift one, with My Catch battling with American invader Switzerland through an opener 400m in 23.84 (no run-up) and 800m in 46.93.

Argentine multiple Group 2 winner Tato Key, now in the care of Irish conditioner David Marnane, made a bold bid for the lead under Shane Foley, but was ultimately caught by Drafted and overpowered in the final 100m. Ibn Malik (Jim Crowley aboard) made a game bid to finish third as the top pair crossed the line in 1:12.34 for 1200m with three-quarters of a lengths separating them.

A Keeneland track record setter on debut as a 2-year-old when trained in America by Eoin Harty, the good-looking grey gelding won his first Group race in what was his 11th lifetime start and fifth win. A Royal Ascot alumnus in his only non-dirt try—the 2016 Windsor Castle Stakes—he has become a force in the local sprint ranks and won his second race of the season and fourth at Meydan. In December, he won the Listed Garhoud Sprint over Ibn Malik and entered off a tough-luck, yet hard-charging second in the Dubawi Stakes (G3) on Jan. 3.

“In his last run, he was very unlucky,” Dobbs said. “He beat My Catch 6½ lengths that day and had a lot of ground to make. He’s younger and on the way up. The small field was good today because he had no kickback today (when staying on the outside). I got into the race a little earlier than (I wanted), but he ran really well. He has to warm up into it and (close ground). I just get him out of the kickback for the first two or three furlongs and then half-way around, he picked up the bridle and did it himself.”

Watson added: “He just does not have that natural speed, but he tries every time for us and he has been a delight to train. The smaller field tonight probably helped him a little bit, because it kept him out of the kickback early, so he travelled a little bit better. He is not great with kickback. He was able to get a nice position early. He travelled a lot better tonight early and was able to use that kick at the end. It was a tough choice for Pat (to pick between Drafted and My Catch) because he thought if My Catch had drawn low, he might have gone with him, but I think he was always going to go with Drafted.”

Both Foley and Marnane were very pleased with Tato Key.

“He jumped smart and I just took a sit because I didn’t want to get in a speed battle with My Catch,” Foley said. “It was his first run for seven months, but he’s run a massive race. It was my first time sitting on him. He picked up and had a little blow, but that’s to be expected. It was a fact-finding mission tonight and you’ll be hearing from him again. I’m looking forward to it.”

Marnane added: “He ran a big race. It was seven months off the track for him and first time on this surface. Couldn’t be happier with him. He was training well. He should come on from the run and I’d like to see him back here on Super Saturday (Mar. 9) and then hopefully (Dubai) World Cup night.”

“He ran a very good race,” Crowley said of Ibn Malik. “It was a very competitive race and run well. He might be better with an outside draw. Sometimes he found it a little difficult to turn tonight, but he has run a good race.”

Nine Below Zero, My Catch and Switzerland rounded out the order of finish in the major prep for the $2.5 million Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1).

$250,000 UAE 1,000 Guineas (Listed)

The UAE 1000 Guineas sponsored by DP World UAE Refion (Listed), restricted to 3-year-old fillies, went to France with Silva running out the very easy, if not completely dominant winner for Pia Brandt. In doing so, she supplied Oisin Murphy, who has been in red-hot form in Japan, a first 2019 Carnival winner at the first attempt.

Never far off the pace, the Kodiac filly, a homebred by Zamim Bifov, arrived here having on her third career start lost her maiden tag over 1900m on the Deauville all-weather seven weeks ago. Tracking the early pace (24.43 for 400m and 47.78 for 800m) set by an enthusiastic Lady Parma with Richard Mullen, she sent for home early in the straight with authority and quickly opened up on the opposition. In the end, she stopped the clock in 1:39.62.

Market favourite Divine Image, with William Buick aboard, closed well to snag second from Lady Parma. Al Hayette, suffering from her outside (post 15) barrier draw, never factored under Fabrice Veron to eventually finish 10th.

“It was a good job from my agent to pick her up and the trainer has done a super job,” Murphy said. “It was my first ride for Pia Brandt. I gave (Silva) a good run up and she jumped and she probably avoided all the kickback. Her next assignment might be tougher, but that was a great result.”

“She missed the break,” Buick explained. “She was a little bit restless in the gate. She ran a great race to be second in her first time on dirt. She got a lot of kickback and she’s a very game and honest filly. I think she’ll improve for the step up in the (Group 3, $250,000) UAE Oaks (on Feb. 21).”

“She probably jumped too well,” Mullen said of the early pacesetter. “Ideally, I was wanting to get a lead, but she pinged the gates with me and I didn’t want to take her back (once she broke so quickly). She has a lot of natural speed. She is probably a filly who doesn’t stay as well and is only three-parts there. She’s a big filly and she’s not really physically developed, yet. She is probably a filly who is going to come back to sprinting next year when she is fully strengthened up and I think the trip was a little far for her tonight. She was unlucky not to be second, but the winner was in a different race.”

Veron, while noticeably disappointed in his two-time meet winner, promised a better Al Hayette in three weeks: “Today, I think it’s better if you forget about it. The draw was on the outside and the track was very fast. The kickback was too much for her, today. Don’t worry about the filly. Next time she will be better.”

Remainder of Card

The $100,000 Meydan Classic Trial sponsored by Mina Rashid Marina, for 3-year-olds on turf, was won stylishly by Golden Jaguar, impressive winner over 1000m in a conditions race at Jebel Ali on his only previous outing and following up in the manner of a good horse for owner Phoenix Ladies Syndicate and trainer Ahmad bin Harmash. Connor Beasley was in the irons on the well-bred son of 2013 Dubai World Cup winner Animal Kingdom.

“It was really impressive the way he did it, to be honest, because everything went wrong,” Beasley said. “He was obviously drawn quite wide and he half clipped the gates again. I had to take my time. Once I pushed the button, he went about his job really well. For a horse that is having his second run, he hit the front far too early, but he was a very willing partner and he galloped right through the line. Very impressive.”

“We owe it to (trainer) Ahmad bin Harmash, who picked out and bought all these good horses for Phoenix Ladies and has done a great job with them,” said Amer Abdulaziz, principal of Phoenix Thoroughbreds and its subsidiary Phoenix Ladies. “It shows you how good (Golden Jaguar) is, to win on dirt (at Jebel Ali) and now on turf today.”

The meeting opened with the only Purebred Arabian contest on the card, the 2200m Al Maktoum Challenge R2 sponsored by Mina Hamriya (PA G1) and won in ultra-determined fashion by Goshawke and a smart ride by Fernando Jara, who tracked the leaders before being sent to the front at the top of the straight. A 5-year-old and youngest of the 12 runners, he is trained by Abdallah Al Hammadi for Al Ajban Stables and kept responding to Jara’s urgings throughout the final 400m to just deny Mawahib, who looked the likely winner when challenging 350m out, but could not get past the winner.

Jara, on his only mount during the card, said: “He is one of my favourite Purebred Arabians because he is a big, brave horse who tries hard and is a pleasure to ride. When in front, he does tend to wait for other horses, so when the runner-up challenged, I always knew he would keep fighting and he has shown a great attitude to win that.”

The 1600m dirt handicap, the $175,000 Mina Rashid, looked competitive on paper, but reality revealed it to be a one-horse race, with that sole equine being Sandeep Jadhav-trained Capezzano, who won his second race of the 2018-19 season in impressive style. Taken straight to the front by Mickael Barzalona and benefitting from both subpar starts by fellow pace factors Gold Town and Bochart, he pulverized his rivals in the lane and hit the wire 14 lengths in front in a healthy time of 1:36.95—stamping himself as a horse to watch on the road to the $1.5 million Godolphin Mile (G2) on Dubai World Cup day. Last year, he was unplaced in said event, but appears to have moved forward considerably.

Jadhav said: “We have put a hood on him, which really seems to have helped and he is a horse we have always known has plenty of ability. We were quite hopeful coming here tonight, but did not expect that. I guess we will now have to step him up in class after such an easy victory, but we will wait and see what the handicapper does.”

The penultimate race, the $175,000 Jafza Handicap over 2000m on turf, was dominated by Godolphin, but supplied the leading owner with its sole victory of the evening. Heavy market favourite Oasis Charm, saddled by Charlie Appleby, welcomed back stable jockey William Buick properly, as the rider was returning to the Carnival for the first time this year after a suspension incurred in Hong Kong.

A 5-year-old Oasis Dream gelding, Oasis Charm was returning to action after 271 days off when he was victorious in a handicap over 1800m at Newmarket. Tonight he held off a strong charge from Saeed bin Suroor-trained Team Talk, under Christophe Soumillon, by three parts of a length. It was another head back to Appleby-trained Zaman in third.

Appleby said: “We have always thought a lot of this horse and have given him plenty of time. We will wait for the handicapper, but it could well be we have to step him up in class now.”

The concluding 1600m $135,000 turf handicap, the Hamdan bin Mohammed Cruise Terminal, produced a second Carnival winner in as many years for trainer Charlie Fellowes and owner Saeed Bel Obaida after subsequently Melbourne Cup (G1)-placed Prince of Arran’s success in 2018. This time it was Escalator rising to the occasion, while piloted by Christopher Hayes and toting top weight of 60kgs.

“They went a good gallop and he came alive,” Hayes said. “I just had to weight turning in. I got out and he switched gears.”