Doubles for Appleby & Godolphin but Seemar takes Meydan plaudits with five winners

Racing at Meydan on Friday was highlighted by the Zabeel Trophy, a 1600m rated conditions contest on the turf, won stylishly by Path Of Thunder, ridden by Richard Mullen and completing doubles for both owners Godolphin and trainer Charlie Appleby.

Keen early on, Mullen was able to settle him just behind the early pace before driving him past stablemate La Barrosa entering the final 175m. The pair were soon clear with the race, basically, over as a contest.

A 5yo Night Of Thunder gelding, he was having just his 11th career start and winning for the fourth time having scored thrice in the UK, most recently a 1600m handicap at Newmarket in July. He then disappointed, three weeks later, when favourite for a similar race at Glorious Goodwood.

Appleby said: “We had three runners and thought they all had a good chance. His winning was a bit of a surprise to be honest but this was a good race for him.
“He is high in the handicap so options are limited in that sphere but he has done it nicely tonight and it is nice to see him get his head in front again.”

The meeting kicked off with a 1200m turf maiden, the first grass race of the Meydan season, in which 13 went to post but a dozen of them may as well have stayed at home with local debutant Durandal proving a class above the rest.

Ridden by Tadhg O’Shea in the silks of Al Rashid Stables for Bhupat Seemar, the 5yo gelded son of Dubawi was third on his only previous outing, when trained in France by Andre Fabre for Godolphin, on the all-weather at Chantilly in November 2019.

The 793-day absence from the track proved no hindrance and once in front shortly after halfway the result was never in doubt.

Seemar was soon celebrating a double, this time combining with Antonio Fresu who was aboard RRR Racing’s Ranaan in the following 1200m dirt handicap.

Settled in midfield behind a generous early gallop, the 5yo Hard Spun gelding was on the heels of the leaders on the home turn and, once in front 300m out, never in danger of being caught.

Having only his ninth start, fifth locally and third for Seemar, Ranaan was doubling his career tally having also won in America for Steve Asmussen over 1200m on his racecourse debut in January 2020.

Fresu said: “The trainer has been proved right by dropping him in trip and adding blinkers. Both have worked and he did it nicely.”

The 1400m turf handicap was divided into two divisions, the first providing Fresu the perfect opportunity to complete a double of his own, riding for Shadwell and Musabbeh Al Mheiri aboard Alkaamel.

Never far off the pace on the 6yo Havana Gold gelding, Fresu set sail for home with about 350m remaining and the pair had the race in safekeeping entering the final 150m.

For Alkaamel it was a fifth career success and second in the UAE, the previous local victory being in a 1600m Meydan turf handicap, under Fresu, in March 2020.

Fresu said: “This horse deserved to win again because he never runs a bad race and that, under a big weight, was a good performance.”

The second division produced a dramatic finish with the Mike de Kock-trained Mystery Land looking likely to steal the prize, leading in the dying strides only to be thwarted right on the line by Godolphin’s Silent Film whom he had briefly headed.

Ridden by William Buick for Charlie Appleby, Silent Film appeared to have the race sewn up when hitting the front in the final 150m but was forced to dig deep and show real determination to eventually add this success to a pair of UK victories.

A 4yo New Approach gelding, he has now won half of his six career starts and this victory, albeit a narrow one, should qualify him for the Dubai World Cup Carnival which begins next Friday.

In between, Seemar and Fresu completed trebles courtesy of Law Of Peace who flew home in the final 250m to deny Celtic Prince in a 1600m dirt handicap for Nasir Askar.

Nearer last than first throughout the first half of the race, the 5yo Shamardal gelding took closer order on the home bend before picking up in style over the closing stages, sticking his head in front as the line approached.

He was another doubling his career tally, adding this victory to one in a 1600m maiden on the Abu Dhabi turf last February.

Fresu said: “We were a bit slowly away and in behind early but, once I switched him out in the straight, he really picked up nicely.”

The 2200m dirt rated conditions stakes also went to Seemar, O’Shea in the saddle on Sanad Libya who stayed on dourly to pass early leader Far Sky passing the 200m marker and then plugging on gamely.

Owned by H And B, the 5yo Tapiture entire was registering a third career success having previously won a 1400m Jebel Ali maiden in February 2020 and a 1900m dirt handicap here at Meydan in the December of that same year.

Seemar said: “It has been an amazing evening but we thought we had some good chances and the horses are in great form. This horse just stays well as he showed there and this is just great for the whole team who all work so hard.”

Restricted to 4yos, a 1600m rated conditions stakes also went to Seemar and O’Shea, the imposing Al Nefud following up his impressive local debut when victorious in a similar course and distance contest a fortnight ago.

Raced thrice in Britain by Charlie Appleby for Godolphin, placed on each occasion, the gelded son of Dubawi looked an exciting horse winning his maiden and was well on top here from a long way out, becoming a second winner on the card for Al Rashid Stables.

O’Shea said: “He is a very nice horse and an exciting prospect. This was a much better race than the last time but he did it nicely.”

Dahawi was probably never headed in the finale, a 1000m turf handicap, completing a double for Al Mheiri and a fourth winner on the evening for Antonio Fresu.