25 January 2024

ERA Meydan Preview

Given Meydan Racecourse stage the inaugural ‘Fashion Friday’ fixture, it is perhaps fitting that a filly should take centre stage on a card featuring three Group 1 events and a staggering eight Group races in total.

As the first Dubai Racing Carnival graduate to win the 1,000 Guineas in Newmarket, Godolphin filly Mawj returns to the track to strut her stuff in the Group 1 Jebel Hatta (Presented by Longines) where she faces eight rivals. 

A dual winner at last year’s Carnival, the Saeed Bin Suroor-trained filly added the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup at Keeneland to her top-level exploits and missed out on winning the Group 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile by a nose when overhauled by Master Of The Seas.

“Mawj arrived in Dubai after the Breeders’ Cup and had a bit of an easy time,” said Bin Suroor, who last won this race in 2019 with Dream Castle. 

“She’s doing well and I’m happy with her. After this the plan is the Dubai Turf and then we will take her back to Europe.”

 

CLAPTON STRIVING FOR A VIRTUOUSO PERFORMANCE

The day’s official feature is the AED3.6million Group 1 Maktoum Challenge, a prep race for the Dubai World Cup on March 30th. 

Trainer Chad Summers has an enviable record at Meydan thanks to two Dubai Golden Shaheen wins with Mind Your Biscuits and he saddles Grade 2 Lukas Classic winner Clapton, the mount of Antonio Fresu, who was last seen in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and will sport blinkers for his comeback.

“We think that maybe he didn’t like being on the inside,” said Summers of the eleventh place showing at Santa Anita. 

“When he’s inside horses he feels like he’s running in quicksand. He’s such a big horse that we’d like him to really get into his rhythm and if we lose a little bit of ground, that’s OK.

“We hope they’ll go an honest enough pace. First Constitution should make the pace and hopefully that will set it up for us to come with a big run. We’re adding blinkers for this race, too.

The sole Group 1 winner in the race is Atletico El Culano, who warmed up for this with a narrow victory over the re-opposing Military Law in the Listed Entisar Stakes. He breaks from post 12, but trainer Olascoaga is hopeful of another big run.

“He’s doing well after his win in The Entisar,” he said. 

“Jockey and regular rider Jose Da Silva is happy the way he’s going in these last weeks. It will be all about the pace and timing for his run in the end.”

 

The card begins at 5.30 with the first of three Group 1 events and an enthralling renewal of the Maktoum Challenge R2 (Presented by Longines) for Purebred Arabians. It features two Dubai Kahayla Classic winners, with Deryan and First Classs taking on a full field of 16.

 

FOLLOW UP BID FOR NIGHT NO MYSTERY

Not that three top-level races are the only highlights on the card as five other Group events help to ensure a fabulous night of racing. The Al Fahidi Fort (Presented by Longines) sees Mysterious Night trying to back up last week’s impressive success for Charlie Appleby and William Buick in the 1400m Group 2. 

Michael Costa trainee Marbaan and Danyah, surprise winner of the Al Quoz Sprint last March, could emerge as the chief threats.

 

HILLS DOUBLE HANDED 

Thirteen go to post for the Group 2 Blue Point Sprint (Presented by Longines) with international participants dominating the 1000m turf event.

Charlie Hills has found Meydan a happy hunting ground in the past and Equality (William Buick) and old favourite Equilateral (Jim Crowley) look two excellent contenders for further UAE sprint race glory.

“It looks perfect for Equality,” said Sam Hoskins, Syndicate Manager. “Although as we saw last year, anything can happen in a race like this! 

“On ratings, he should be right up there, but it is his first run after a break, and he's probably fit enough to do himself justice but whether he'll be quite 100 per cent is another matter. If he can switch off and race sensibly early on he should run a good race."

 

LAUREL STRIVES TO PROVE HE IS EVERGREEN

A UAE debut for American import Laurel River, in the renowned colours of Juddmonte, adds to some intrigue and flavour to the Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint (1200m, dirt) and trainer Bhupat Seemar is keen to see the six-year-old son of Into Mischief begin his campaign.

“He is doing really well,” said Seemar of the Grade 2 winner. 

“This looks a good place to start him as he hasn’t run for a while.”

 

JULIO HOPING FOR LIGHTENING TO STRIKE TWICE

Eight three-year-old colts clash in the Group 3 UAE 2000 Guineas (Presented by Longines), with trainer Julio Olascoaga responsible for two exciting contenders.

Olascoaga has booked dual Dubai World Cup-winning rider Christophe Soumillon to partner Oasis Boy, a winner of two of his three starts in Argentina. He is by Asiatic Boy, winner of this race in 2007.

“He ticks all the boxes for what we like to see of a three-year-old that travels from South America,” said the trainer of the Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum homebred. 

“We are honored to have our first runner in colours with such history in UAE.”

Olascoaga also runs Quartier, a late closing second to Ma Yetal in the prep for this race. 

“He pulled up well after his effort in the trial and we’ve just continued with maintenance work between races,” he said. 

“We believe an extra 200m should be no problem and will suit him.”