04 February 2021

#DWCCARNIVAL: Secret Ambition And O'Shea Star In Seemar Meydan Double

Thursday’s third meeting of the 2021 Dubai World Cup Carnival, at Meydan, was officially highlighted by the Group 3 Firebreak Stakes sponsored by DP World UAE Region, and it was third time lucky for Secret Ambition, runner-up in the two previous renewals, who turned the race into a procession.

Group 3 $130,000 Firebreak Stakes (1600m D)

The 1600m dirt highlight was contested by just six runners, but once Tadhg O’Shea set sail for home early in the straight there was only ever going to be one outcome. An entire son of Exceed And Excel, the 8-year-old was ridden to grab the initiative in the early stages, an advantage they never really appeared likely to relinquish. Winner of the Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile in January 2019, in which he was second this year, he also won the 2019 Listed Dubai Creek Mile, but had not tasted success since. He had, however, been runner-up five times and third once in his six subsequent outings. He has been a great servant for Satish Seemar and owner Nasir Askar, winning this in a race record time.

O’Shea said: “There were a couple that might have wanted to make the running but when this fellow breaks well he does not like to be settled in, so I was happy to go on and be positive.

“This horse has danced every dance and is so tough and consistent so he deserved another victory. He did that very well this evening.”

Group 3 $125,000 UAE 2000 Guineas (3yo 1600m D)

Restricted to 3-year-olds, also over 1600m on dirt, the UAE 2000 Guineas sponsored by Hamdan bin Mohammed Cruise Terminal, attracted a select field of just six, but produced a thrilling finish with Mouheeb leading in the dying strides to deny Meshakel who made a gallant effort from the front only to be thwarted. Slowly away on both his previous outings, a winning debut over 1200m at Jebel Ali and when himself just conquered in the UAE 2000 Guineas trial three weeks ago, over the same 1600m, he broke alertly this time.

Settled in third by Ryan Curatolo, the Flatter colt was probably five lengths off the eventual runner-up entering the straight with Godolphin’s Naval Crown splitting them. That one cried enough in the final 300m, fading into third, when Curatolo had to get very serious with Mouheeb who, as he had done in the trial, responded gamely to gain a gutsy success. They posted the fastest time in the history of the race in the process. It was a first Meydan winner, since taking over at Jebel Ali Stables, for trainer Nicholas Bachalard who, from his previous base in Saudi Arabia, did win the 2017 UAE 1000 Guineas with Nashmiah.

It was a second success from Jebel Ali Stables in this race for the trainer’s main patron, Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, following in the hoofprints of Market Rally who landed the prize in 2016 for Dhruba Selvaratnam.

Curatolo, riding his first Meydan winner, said: “This horse is such a fighter and to ride my first winner here in a big race is just brilliant.

“I always thought I could get there in that long straight and, credit to the horse who has really fought hard for me. I think he will stay further so I imagine we will look at the UAE Derby but we can enjoy this first!”

Meydan Classic Trial & Rest of the Card

Also for the 3-year-old Classic generation, but on turf, the Meydan Classic Trial sponsored by Jebel Ali Port was a virtual carbon copy of the 1200m turf Dubai Trophy of three weeks earlier when Godolphin’s First Smile looked the likely winner only to be outstayed by Topper Bill and Richard Mullen.

A gelded son of Intrinsic, trained by Satish Seemar for Ali Al Shafar & Abdulla Al Shafar, he has now landed both his local starts having won once in Britain when trained by Adrian Nichols. It was a notable double on the card for Seemar. First Smile was denied second close home by stable companion Last Sunset, the Godolphin duo both saddled by Saeed bin Suroor.

Mullen said: “Like the last day he has had to battle and dig deep, but he has a great attitude which makes my job a lot easier. He stayed the 1200m very well last time so we hoped the extra 200m would suit him.”

The curtain raiser, the Mina Rashid, a 1200m dirt handicap was won stylishly by Canvassed, confidently ridden by Pat Dobbs, in the colours of Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum for Doug Watson. A 6-year-old gelded son of Shamardal, he was opening his local account, at just the fourth attempt, tackling a sprint trip for the very first time on his seventh career appearance in total. Twice a winner in Britain for Roger Varian, both times over 1600m on an all-weather surface, this was his third outing of the current campaign, his previous effort being a third place finish in the Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile.

The drop in trip was certainly no hindrance as he was always travelling well for Dobbs who sent him to challenge the early leaders halfway up the straight. They hit the front with less than 200m remaining and stayed on powerfully to provide the jockey win number 250 in the UAE.

Watson, at the races for the first time in 2021, said: “We have so many people to thank for helping us out at the races so far this year.

“We always liked this horse, but he had a few problems, especially with his shins, so we had to write off the campaign. He has been running well this season and I guess we will wait for Super Saturday and stick to 1200m with the aim of getting him in on Dubai World Cup night.”

Responsible for seven of the ten runners, Godolphin were always likely to dominate the Meydan Cup sponsored by P & O Marinas, a Listed turf handicap over 2810m, and that proved to be the case with the blue silks filling the first five places. It was Frankie Dettori, wearing a red cap, who landed the spoils for Saeed bin Suroor aboard Dubai Future, chased home by his stable companions Volcanic Sky and Global Heat. Charlie Appleby duo, Ispolini and Ghostwatch filled the next two places albeit well beaten. Inaugurated in 2015, Godolphin have now landed the staying prize five times with Bin Suroor edging one ahead of Appleby who had won the previous two renewals, including in 2019 with the aforementioned Ispolini. Runner-up when Appleby’s Walton Street broke the 2410m turf track record a fortnight ago, Dubai Future went one better here to register a fourth career success, but first since January 2020 when victorious in a 2410m turf carnival handicap. Dettori was again able to demonstrate his trademark flying dismount.

Bin Suroor said: “As you expect Frankie has given him a very good ride and was always in the right place. It is great to have him back riding for us regularly.

“This horse stays well and will stick to this type of race, but will probably step up in class.”

The biggest field of the evening, a capacity 14, contested the finale, a second turf Listed handicap on the card, this time over 1200m, the Dubai Sprint sponsored by JAFZA, and Godolphin completed a double, Man Of Promise proving far too good, denying Bin Suroor and Dettori a double with runner-up Final Song. Never far off the speed, racing towards the nearside under William Buick, the 4-year-old Into Mischief gelding shot clear about 275m from home, settling the race in a few strides and supplying Charlie Appleby a century of UAE winners. Having just his fourth career start, first locally, he was doubling his career tally having been gelded since his previous racecourse appearance, last August.

The jockeys were sporting black armbands in the final two races after the sad death of UAE racing stalwart Pat Buckley was revealed by Tadhg O’Shea after Secret Ambition’s victory.