Racing at Meydan doubles for O’Shea, Watson & Al Mheiri on his birthday

Racing at Meydan on Friday featured both a quality 1400m handicap, as well as the first major Purebred Arabian contest of the season, the Group 2 Bani Yas over the same course and distance.

The latter kicked off proceedings and class prevailed with the penalised AF Alajaj scoring under Tadhg O’Shea for Khalid Khalia Al Nabooda and Ernst Oertel.

Homebred, the 5yo entire was conceding weight to all his 13 rivals courtesy of his previous success in the Group 2 Mazrat Al Ruwayah over 1600m on this Meydan dirt surface in February. He has now won half of his 12 career starts.

Never far off the pace, he was driven to the front entering the final 200m and ran home strongly to land the prize.

O’Shea later completed a double aboard the impressive Ranaan in a 1200m handicap, this time combining with Bhupat Seemar and RRR Racing, owners of the 5yo gelded son of Hard Spun.

In a race that appeared to be contested at a furious gallop, O’Shea was content to take his time in rear before unleashing the decisive challenge in the straight, the pair hitting the front about 200m from home and never in danger afterwards.

Ranaan was winning for a third time and second in the UAE, both over this Meydan 1200m course and distance.

The aforementioned 1400m handicap looked competitive on paper but dirt debutant Raaeb looked a natural on the surface, Shadwell’s homebred 5yo Raven’s Pass gelding powering clear in the final 200m under Antonio Fresu for Musabbeh Al Mheiri who was celebrating his birthday.

Al Mheiri said: “That is a great to have a winner on my birthday and this is a nice new horse to have in the yard and one we hope to campaign at the carnival next year. He obviously handled the dirt and we have turf options with him also.”

The ‘birthday boy’ was back in the winner’s enclosure after the finale, a 1600m handicap after Adrie de Vries led close home aboard Falsehood for Hamad Ali Hamad Al Hamroor.

Previously trained by Saeed bin Suroor for Godolphin, Raeeb won thrice on all-weather surfaces in Britain and also has a turf victory to his name so is clearly versatile regarding underfoot conditions and he has now scored twice over both 1400m and 1200m, as well as registering a success over 1000m

Ten debutantes went to post in a 1200m maiden for 2yo fillies but only two ever threatened to win with Here We Are making a bold bid from the front but unable to repel the challenge of Awasef who grabbed the initiative in the final 125m, Pat Dobbs in the saddle for Al Rashid Stables and Doug Watson.

A daughter of Cairo Prince, Dobbs’ mount always had the eventual runner-up in her sights and probably won with plenty more to offer if it had been required.

Dobbs said: “She is still learning and green so I wanted an early lead and something to aim at. It worked out perfectly.”

The longest race of the evening, the penultimate race on the card, a 1900m handicap, also went to Watson, combining this time with Sam Hitchcott who delivered Naser Askar’s Qareeb to lead close home and snatch victory in a thrilling finish when the first four home could have been covered by a large horse blanket.

A 4yo Speightstown colt, he was registering a third career success and first locally at the fifth attempt on his second Meydan appearance this season having finished fourth over 2000m seven days ago.

For 3yos, a 7f maiden was won in scintillating fashion by local debutant Long Kiss, the youngest horse in the field having been foaled in the southern hemisphere, thus receiving weight from his eight rivals.

Last but one for the majority of the race, the Adriano colt flew home over the final 300m to somehow snatch the spoils under Jose de Silva in the colours of Stud Guara Del Sar for Antonio Cintra.

Raced twice in Uruguay when well beaten in fifth on debut over 1400m before a close second over 1600m he will clearly relish a return to the latter trip judged on this evidence.

Cintra said: “We thought he would run well and we ran him twice at home to give him experience and have him fit. That was very pleasing.”