FASCINATING action in store at UAE racing’s headquarters this evening which kicks off with a 1400m maiden restricted to juvenile maiden fillies for which only four entries were received on Monday. Connections were afforded an extra 24 hours to join the field and Musabbeh Al Mheiri took up that option with Early Motion. Doug Watson is responsible for two of the runners, Pat Dobbs electing to ride Hamid Radan’s Rio Angie leaving Sam Hitchcott the mount aboard Tapi Sioux, like Easy option owned by Ali A Aneizi.
The field is completed by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed’s Down On Da Bayou for Salem bin Ghadayer and Majhoola, to be saddled by Ahmad bin Harmash for Imperium Racing, a new ownership entity. Anyway, intriguing a clash as that promises to be with next year’s UAE 1000 Guineas and Oaks in mind, the card is officially highlighted by a pair of Dh210,000 handicaps with Watson well represented in both. More of that later though because, with a handicap mark of 100, Rodaini, to be saddled by Bin Harmash for Abdullah Saeed Al Naboodah is, officially, the best horse in action throughout the six races.
A 5yo gelded son of Exchange Rate, he takes his chance in the handicap over 1200m, a trip over which he is undefeated having made a winning racecourse debut over the distance as a juvenile at Leicester in May 2016. Prepared then by Simon Crisford, he actually won his first four racecourse appearances and five in all during his British career. He arrived, with Crisford, for the 2018 Dubai World Cup Carnival before joining Bin Harmash for whom his first start was when finishing seventh in that year’s Group 1 Jebel Hatta, the Super Saturday turf feature. Both last season’s victories were on the Meydan dirt over 1400m with, more than once, his stamina seemingly failing over 1600m so this drop to 1200m could prove a shrewd move by his handler who has made a bright start to the season although stable jockey, Connor Beasley, has opted to partner Pennsylvania Dutch for the yard.
Watson, responsible for a quartet of the nine entries received on Monday, eight of the nonet were declared, has also made a pleasing start to the campaign. Waady looked an exciting recruit when joining the Red Stables roster for the 2018 carnival, arriving a Group Three winner for John Gosden, but has yet to really fire. Arguably the best of his three dirt outings was over this 1200m last December when fourth, having shown blistering early speed in a race won by stablemate Lytham St Annes. Owned by Mohd Khalifa Al Basti, the 6yo Bahamian Bounty gelding is a dual winner over this track and trip with his other career victories posted over 1200m up the steep Jebel Ali incline and, as a juvenile, he was victorious at Epsom when tackling 1400m for the first time to shed his maiden tag. Watson also entered Almanaara, like Waady owned by Sheikh Hamdan and similarly blessed with plenty of natural dash but his was the one name missing when declarations were finalised.
Phoenix Thoroughbred’s Lansky has a touch of class but needs to prove himself as good on dirt as he is on turf but should have benefitted from his UAE summer to acclimatise having arrived for the 2019 carnival. Satish Seemar saddles Pop The Hood for Touch Gold Racing and he too will have summered locally after, in his case, four outings last season. Al Basti’s Portamento travelled strongly here over 1600m a fortnight ago before seeming not to stay. Unexposed on dirt, this 7yo Shamardal entire looks a nice chance for Ali Rashid Al Rayhi. Galvanize is another horse for whom Watson has always held carnival aspirations and was one of four entries from the handler in a 2000m dirt handicap over the same course and distance as the Dubai World Cup. The quartet were all declared.
Thrice a Meydan winner over 1600m, most recently when chased home by the aforementioned Portamento last December, this will be a third crack for Galvanize under these conditions having finished second and third on previous attempts. The weights are headed by stable companion Etijaah, another to carry the blue and white of Sheikh Hamdan. Now a 9yo, this Daaher gelding has three track and trip victories to his credit, most recently the December 2017 The Entisar, a Listed contest as is the Curlin handicap he landed in February 2017. Al Basti owns the other Watson pair, Dehbashi and Tried And True, both course and distance victors, as is Mudallel for Bin Harmash in a race a case can be made for all eight runners.