Meydan Racecourse’s Super Saturday justifies billing with class shining throughout

Saturday was the second biggest fixture of the UAE season, Super Saturday, officially highlighted by the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3, over the same 2000m on dirt as the $12 million Dubai World Cup in three weeks’ time, won by Salute The Soldier, as it was in 2021 and becoming the only dual winner of the race established in 1994.

Settled just behind the early speed by Adrie de Vries, the 8yo gelded son of Sepoy stayed on resolutely down the straight to lead in the final 100m, providing consecutive victories on the card for jockey, owners Victorious and trainer Fawzi Nass.

De Vries said: “We went a good pace and I was able to give him a nice breather before the straight. It took him a while to pick up but then he stayed on very strongly and his stamina, perhaps an issue in the past, has seemingly improved.”

The complexion of the 3yo feature and trial for the Group 2 UAE Derby, the Listed Al Bastakiya, over the same 1900m on dirt as the final Classic of the local season, completely changed in the final 200m, Mr Raj hitting the front only to be caught late by Go Soldier Go.

Nearer last than first on the home turn, the Tapiture colt made steady, as opposed to spectacular, progress throughout the straight, Dee Vries timing it perfectly in the colours of Victorious for Nass. He is now a dual course and distance winner.

The main turf highlight, the Group 1 Jebel Hatta, the local trial for the Dubai Turf over the same 1800m, was won for a second consecutive year by Alfareeq, as he was last year partnered by Dane O’Neill for Musabbeh Al Mheiri.

It would be hard to begrudge the homebred 6yo gelded son of Dark Angel another victory, his first for 12 months, having finished runner-up in all three previous starts this season. He had to show great determination though to finally overhaul local debutant El Drama in the closing stages.

O’Neill said: “The runner-up just kept battling but my lad is tough and deserved a win this season after some big efforts in defeat. He took a while to settle in after France but Musabbeh and his team have done a great job with him.”

Also on turf, the 2410m Group 2 Dubai City Of Gold was dominated from a long way out by Godolphin’s Global Storm, saddled by Charlie Appleby and partnered by William Buick who had been due to ride the withdrawn Rebel’s Romance for the same connections.

Sent to the front fully 1800m out, the 6yo Night Of Thunder gelding just galloped home relentlessly thereafter in a race he finished third last year.
This was his fifth career success, second over course and distance, but by far most significant.

The Ras Al Khor, a 1400m conditions race on the turf, was contested by a field of 14 but only one mattered; Godolphin’s track record holder Al Suhail proving a class apart under Buick for Appleby, lowering his fastest time in the process.

Ridden by James Doyle, in the colours of Mohammed Khaleel Ahmed for Bhupat Seemar, Discovery Island was ultimately the comfortable winner of the Group 3 Burj Nahaar, over 1600m on dirt.

The 6yo Dubawi gelding has now won four of his 14 starts but, probably more significantly, half of his eight outings on dirt.

The only 3yo in the 1200m Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint, Al Dasim, treated his 14 elders with contempt, storming clear to win impressively under Mickael Barzalona.

The colt by Harry Angel was maintaining his 100% UAE record, winning thrice over this course and distance, twice previously in conditions races against his own age group, so was facing a new challenge here, passing the test with ease.

He is trained by George Boughey for Sheikh Abdullah Almalek Alsabah and looks a very exciting prospect among the sprinting ranks.

The fixture concluded with the 1200m dirt Group 3 Mahab Al Shimaal, won impressively by local debutant Sound Money, Barzalona aboard, completing his double on the card and one for trainer Seemar, and RRR Racing who also own runner-up Isolate.

The Purebred Arabian Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3 kicked off proceedings and 2022 winner Jugurtha De Monlau followed up in style, probably never headed under Pat Dobbs in the colours of Yas Racing for Jean-Claude Pecout.

Homebred, the 7yo entire was chased throughout by Kerless Del Roc who cried enough in the final 400m under Fernando Jara, aboard the winner in this race 12 months ago, but who clung on for second in a race few of the capacity field of 16 were ever seriously involved.