Author: Stephen Molyneux

WITH A BUMPER nine races at Meydan on Friday, there were no shortage of eyecatchers, and likely one or two to avoid going forward. The star was once again Al Nefud, and I think you can probably tell I quite like this horse having eulogised over him when winning on his UAE debut.

Everything said then still rings true, as although he wasn’t as impressive on this occasion, the fact he and the second, who had won at Jebel Ali last time, came 14 lengths clear of the remainder is surely worthy of some note. Visually he just gallops and gallops, but it was reassuring to hear his jockey, Tadhg O’Shea, state afterwards that it is actually his speed that kills off his opponents.

Stick with him until he is beaten, which hopefully won’t be for some time. It was a stellar night for Bhupat Seemar, winning five races and I would expect Durandal, Ranaan and Sanad Libya all to remain of some interest going forward.

Durandal was impressive in the turf maiden, Ranaan has such a low base that surely he can continue to go well now he has found the winning thread and all Sanad Libya does is stay so he can remain a danger granted a suitable stamina test.

The one Zabeel winner I would be less confident about going forward is Law Of Peace who looked less than enthusiastic for much of the way before being persuaded to put his best foot forward. It was his second win, but his record of finishing in the placings seven times is more a concern and I think he ‘got away’ with one on Friday.

For much of the way it looked as though the good record fresh of Celtic Prince would once again bear fruit but having hit the front a good way out he began to wane and it was Law Of Peace who came from last to lead where it mattered.

It was probably a weak race and I question whether Law Of Peace will have the resolution to follow up. There were two divisions of a turf handicap over 1400m, the first going the way of Alkaamel who benefitted from a good track position to win tackling the turf for the first time in a good while.

In fact, if you look at all the grass races on Friday then only really Silent Film and Magical Land from the second division made up any appreciable ground to feature in a finish. As such Mcmanaman is one to take out of the first division given he was strongest of all at the finish, and despite possibly not being the most straightforward, he has the ability to win on grass.

He may even need a mile now, certainly seeing out this 1400m well, as had been the case when he won his maiden last season. He has handled the dirt without looking a natural on it and he would certainly be of more interest if sticking to the grass. Also from that race, and don’t get fooled into fancying Dubai Mirage next time.

Yes, he is well handicapped and goes well at Meydan, but he had every appreciable chance to go past Alkaamel and didn’t, this the third time he has finished second since last getting his head in front. The Zabeel Trophy was the official feature and all eyes were on the classically campaigned pair of One Ruler and La Barrosa, both gelded since their 3yo careers.

La Barrosa was always well placed and could only finish third (will likely drop in trip next time), One Ruler deserving of more of a pass given he raced in the second half of the field before staying on into sixth. Neither can safely be ruled out given their connections but perhaps the winner, Path Of Thunder, is one to take on next time. A tricky sort who was blinkered here, he always had a good position under Richie Mullen and having hitherto looked hard to place, quite whether this relatively comfortable win is the turning of a corner is doubtful.

Stephen Molyneux
Dubai Racing Channel