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Conditions look right for a pair of Charlies: Cosmo & Appleby!

21/12/2017
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CHRISTMAS has come early this year for Meydan racegoers with a crackerjack of a card not only featuring three Listed Thoroughbred races, but also the second running of the Madjani Stakes for their Purebred Arabian cousins. Arguably of greatest interest is the return to racecourse action of Second Summer, winner of last season’s Group 2 Godolphin Mile, when he could not have been less accurately named given the amount of rain, on the ‘World Cup card slop’ in March. Considered by many as unfortunate to have not received an invitation to contest the $10 million World Cup itself, that will surely be his target this season.

And it is over the 2000m course and distance of that race, formerly the most valuable in the world, in which he reappears, under a penalty, in The Entisar. Apart from that extra weight burden, he has plenty in his favour because, especially with tonight’s conditions virtually guaranteed to be drier, though there is rain around, this 2000m is more suitable than the 1600m of his big moment, thus far, in the UAE. He also represents the Doug Watson team who have supplied nine of the last 14 Thoroughbred race winners here at Meydan and won this last year with Storm Belt and, in 2014, with Cooptado.

He made his local debut in the 1900m middle round of the Al Maktoum Challenge, beaten a nose by Furia Cruzada when, granted a bit more luck in running, he would surely have won. He then disappointed, on Super Saturday, in the concluding 2000m leg of the Al Maktoum Challenge, a performance which resulted in his running in the Godolphin Mile, not the World Cup. Already mentioned, Storm Belt is back to defend his crown and he has the benefit of a run, albeit a disappointing one, already this season. A dual Sharjah winner Fly At Dawn early in his career, he then won at Jebel Ali and has two Meydan victories, including one on Tapeta, to his name.

Second to Cooptado in this race in 2014, he can also boast chasing home subsequent Dubai World Cup winner, California Chrome, in a 2000m handicap in February 2016. If he breaks well, he is very capable of a bold show under conditions which clearly suit him. Speaking of impressive form lines, Etijaah, another from Watson’s Red Stables, won the Listed Curlin Handicap, also over this 2000m, in February. Second on that occasion was Mubtaahij who had filled the same berth in the 2016 World Cup, was then fourth in this year’s renewal and is now a Grade One winner in America. He too has had a run this season, behind stable companion Cosmo Charlie, over the 1600m which is probably an insufficient stamina test for him these days.

Pat Dobbs, not surprisingly, has chosen Second Summer with Sam Hitchcott electing to partner Faulkner, second in the aforementioned race behind Cosmo Charlie. Like Storm Belt, he has worked his way through the UAE grades, making a winning debut at Jebel Ali and has still only had nine starts since, scoring three more times. However, a third in the 2016 Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3, over this track and trip, as well as a second, to stable companion One Man Band, in that year’s Godolphin Mile, are his career highlights. Chasing home Cosmo Charlie was his first outing since that Godolphin Mile second and an excellent effort after such a long break.

Faulkner was one of three entered in both The Entisar and the Dubai Creek Mile, along with Farrier and Fly At Dawn. Trained by Satish Seemar, Farrier was sixth in Second Summer’s Godolphin Mile and was second in the 2015 renewal of The Entisar (behind subsequent Group One winner, Special Fighter), third in the 2014 edition, fourth in 2013 and chased home Fitzgerald in last year’s Dubai Creek Mile. Winner of the 1950m Listed Jebel Ali Stakes in February, he has been remarkably versatile and can also boast a second in the 2016 Group 1 Jebel Hatta, on turf, here at Meydan in 2016. Trained by Charlie Appleby, Godolphin’s Fly At Dawn, the only 3yo among the 14 entries for the longer race, takes on his elders in The Entisar on what will be his first outing since World Cup night.

Fifth in the UAE Derby on that occasion, he has been gelded since and does have a 1400m Meydan dirt success to his name, over the aforementioned Cosmo Charlie who was also behind him in that final Classic of the UAE season. Second to Storm Belt 12 months ago was Top Clearance, having his first start here for Gopi Selvaratnam but, in the past, has improved for his seasonal debut, which this will be. Mentioned already on numerous occasions, Cosmo Charlie is among the runners in the Dubai Creek Mile, over the 1600m course and distance of his winning return four weeks ago. The choice of Dobbs, who was on board for his emphatic 1900m in the Listed Al Bastakiya on Super Saturday, he was badly drawn in the UAE Derby and looked an improved horse winning on that seasonal bow.

Daily Bulletin could not have been more impressive when victorious on his local debut for Ali Rashid Al Rayhi. He, basically, marmalised nine rivals in a featured 1400m conditions race up the Jebel Ali hill five weeks ago, when Watson’s reopposing Stunned was third. Both have been off since, seemingly waiting for this, but the form of that Jebel Ali race has yet to be advertised; today could be the day though! Salem bin Ghadayer entered three but runs only the penalised Heavy Metal who won on Super Saturday last season, landing the 1600m Group 3 Burj Nahaar before helping force a furious early gallop in the Godolphin Mile, fading into eighth, behind Second Summer. Godolphin and Appleby are also represented in the 1200m Garhoud Sprint, won last year by Watson’s My Catch, chased home by the 2015 victor, Muarrab.

Appleby saddles Comicas, a course and distance winner but, more notably, second in the Group 1 Golden Shaheen at the main meeting in March. He ran twice in England, but not since Royal Ascot, and was third, on his seasonal debut last season, behind Desert Force, another in here for Watson. Both are making their seasonal debuts, as is Muarrab, best known for landing the 2016 Golden Shaheen, a race won in 2012 by the evergreen Krypton Factor. Last year’s Dubai Creek Mile was won by Fitzgerald, trained by Ahmad bin Harmash and confirming his progressive nature. He finished his campaign with a staying on fourth, behind Second Summer, in the Godolphin Mile. He has not been seen in public since but has run well on both his seasonal debuts for Bin Harmash, finishing third on both occasions, but is among those declared for the 1200m Garhoud Sprint, something of a surprise.

Raven’s Corner, another ERA sales graduate, won two of his three starts last season for Satish Seemar and looked an exciting addition to the UAE sprinting ranks. Meanwhile, the 1900m Madjani Stakes was only inaugurated last year, won by, you probably guessed, Watson. Sheikh Hamdan’s Bon Baiser De Faust will bid to retain his crown in a race he led right on the line. It was stablemate and the same owner’s Sauternes Al Maury he denied but this looks a strong renewal with the likes of Faucon Du Loup, Mawahib and RB Dixie Burning among the powerful opposition. However, Chaddad appears the one they all have to beat; trained in Oman by Sultan bin Mohd Al Hajri, his one UAE outing to date was a fine third in the world’s most valuable Purebred Arabian contest, Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown. A Group One winner in France, he has two dirt victories to his name in Muscat and could be in a class of his own here.

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