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Seemar bowls a googly with North America yelling out for his Dubai World Cup invite

Author: Duane Fonseca


He may not have finished with the most wins on Super Saturday but you could tell from a distance that the trainer Satish Seemar had the time of his life at Meydan last week. There was no action at the racecourse on Thursday, but Saturday’s card was explosive to say the least and if you had put your money on the favourites, you would have been disappointed for most of the night, as nearly all of the names with the odds, supposedly, stacked in their favour found themselves deserted by luck.

As far as Seemar was concerned, the Zabeel Stables’ boss was over the moon after signing out with a double that included landing the feature Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3 with North America, who appears to have come full circle from being a Godolphin reject to a Group One winner. One among 30 horses sold by Godolphin in the 2016 Racing in Dubai April Sale, North America was bought by Imhamed M I Nagem for just Dh140,000. It turned out to be an absolute bargain considering he returned Dh387,000 before being sold to Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of the Chechen Republic, who then ran him in the Godolphin Mile on Dubai World Cup night where on account of a track left sodden by the sudden downpour in the run up to the card, he placed a lowly tenth in a field of 13 in a race won by Second Summer.

North America has made steady progress since moving to Dubai. A former charge of the Godolphin handler Charlie Appleby, North America shed his maiden status on his UAE debut when annihilating the field at Meydan to win by over eight lengths. A nearly nine length win followed in a handicap soon after, which moved him into carnival reckoning, where he won yet again, beating the mighty Heavy Metal by a length and a quarter. A fourth success in as many UAE starts followed when he won the Group 3 Firebreak Stakes by a whopping seven lengths, which then earned him the nod as one of the strong candidates in the Godolphin Mile.

Inclement weather put paid to his hopes of launching even a worthwhile challenge and he reemerged this term only to finish third, a dozen lengths behind Heavy Metal in the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge R1. He was second by a neck to Thunder Snow in the second round of the Al Maktoum Challenge last month, but his performance had shown he had made good progress and was headed only in the final 100m. On Saturday, he seemed unstoppable after jumping out of gate six and being ridden to the front by Richard Mullen. Last year’s Group 2 UAE Derby winner, Thunder Snow, challenged him for a bit but failed to catch him as North America flew to a five and a quarter length success which will have made his stock rise as we look ahead to the $10m Dubai World Cup.

North America has a tiny slice of history on his side and his connections will be hoping he becomes only the fourth Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3 winner to move ahead and win the showpiece event on the Dubai World Cup night card. Seemar was delighted having claimed only the second Group One success of his long career and said: “We wanted to know if he could handle the distance and what do you know? Hopefully, he will be invited to run in the Dubai World Cup now.” That would be something in the ongoing North America fairytale. Seemar’s evening was brilliant and he had visited the podium the first time after Yulong Warrior started what was a night of upsets when he won the 1900m Listed Al Bastakiya by a massive 11 and a half lengths, with the favourite, Masar, trained by Charlie Appleby, trailing in tenth.

That performance was followed up by the Fawzi Nass-schooled Jordan Sport winning the Group 3 Mahab Al Shimaal, seven and a quarter lengths clear of Yalta. Here again it was another international favourite in the Appleby-trained Comicas who had to take the beating in a ninth place finish. Jordan Sport’s blistering run set a new track record for the 1200m dirt event at Meydan. However, there wasn’t going to be more bad luck for Appleby and his first choice rider, William Buick, as the pair landed the 1200m Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint, with Jungle Cat getting the better of topshot Ertijaal in record time.

The Group 3 Burj Nahaar produced another brilliant performance with the Doug Watson-trained Kimbear wiping out a near two length deficit from the highly fancied Heavy Metal in the final 200m, leaping clear to win by a length and a quarter from Secret Ambition and Musawaat, who managed to pip the Salem bin Ghadayer-trained star miler, for third, just before the winning post. Blair House stepped in with Appleby’s second success of the night when again beating two other Godolphin favourites in the Saeed bin Suroor-handled Benbatl and his own stablemate, Folkswood, in the Group 1 Jebel Hatta. It was Benbatl’s race to lose, but James Doyle was terrific in the saddle and Blair House showed a good turn of foot as he raced away in the last 100m.

North America was the standout performance of the evening in the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3 and, while Bin Suroor would have rued his luck in the race as Thunder Snow was forced into a rider change due to Christophe Soumillon’s suspension, with Oisin Murphy taking the reins, worse perhaps followed with Gold Star only just holding onto third behind the Appleby-saddled pair of Hawkbill and Frontiersman in the Group 2 Dubai City of Gold. Hawkbill’s victory by a head bucked the trend of the favourites justifying their billing and completed a fine treble for Appleby, who is three clear of his Godolphin counterpart Bin Suroor at the top of the carnival trainers’ championship.

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07 Aug 2018
Issue Number: Issue 647
Seemar can only hope for another upward performance from North America
Dubai playing a key role in British racing, says Jockey Club boss
Busybody Tadhg looks to scale mountains after climbing Hills
Nass’ trial and error style seems to be working wonders for him
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