By Duane Fonseca
It was business as usual for Godolphin’s Saeed bin Suroor trained Benbatl,who with the least bit of urgings from jockey Christophe Soumillon won the Group 2 Singspiel Stakes in style in wet conditions on the second night of the Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan Thursday.
Soumillon merely appeared to go through the motions during the course of the 1800m ride during which the 6yo son of Dubawi went straight to the front after the gates swung open and held on for a comfortable four and three fourths of a length victory.
Benbatl won the 2018 edition of the race and progressed to claim the Group 2 Al Rashidiya. Thereafter, he bounced back from his narrow defeat in the Group 1 Jebel Hatta to win the Group 1 Dubai Turf on Dubai World Cup day. And he showed much the same class when tackling a field that had been reduced to five with the withdrawal of stablemate Dream Castle, who might have been his only worthy challenger.
Benbatl went to the front and just stayed there and when Famous Wolf briefly challenged as the field turned for home, he kicked clear to win comfortably. Salem bin Ghadayer’s For The Top was second under Mickael Barzalona, with Mike De Kock’s Majestic Mambo a further head back in third with Dane O’Neill in the saddle.
Saeed bin Suroor and Soumillon enjoyed doubles after winning the Dubai Trophy, a conditions event over 1200m of turf with Platinum Star who placed a neck ahead of Ahmad bin Harmash’s Connor Beasley ridden Hamama, with Lars Kelp’s General De Vega a further length and three quarters in arrears under Daniel Tudhope.
The second feature contest of the night, the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 over 1600m was won by Doug Watson’s miler Kimbear, who won for the first time since taking out the Group 3 Burj Nahaar on Super Saturday during the 2018 Carnival.
Ridden by Pat Dobbs, the 6yo son of Temple City had beaten Satish Seemar’s Secret Ambition quite comfortably on that day, but on Thursday, he was made to dig deeper for his victory by a short head against the same foe, the pair upstaging race favourite North America just a few metres from the finish.
Seemar’s North America fell victim to a bad draw. The 8yo Dubawi gelding jumped widest of the seven, but Richard Mullen, who had won the UAE 2000 Guineas trial earlier with Commanding, did well to round the field and go to the front. That, however, may have taken a bit out of North America, who was eventually worn down by old foe Kimbear and then his own stablemate Secret Ambition.
Mullen would have loved to sign off with a double for the night after nicking the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial over 1600m by a short head with Seemar’s Commanding, whose in form owner Nasir Askar enjoyed a 1-3 in the race as his other runner Dark Of Night, trained by Musabbeh Al Mheiri and ridden by Antonio Fresu, finished third, a further short head behind Ali Rashid Al Rayhi’s longtime race leader Al Modayar, the ride of Fernando Jara.
Charlie Appleby, who finished as the top trainer at the last two Dubai World Cup Carnivals, opened his UAE account with the lightly raced Zakouski, who put in a classy performance to win the 1600m turf handicap by three and three quarters of a length under William Buick. In second place was Al Rayhi’s Yaalail with Marco Botti’s Wait Forever taking third a further length behind.
Appleby completed his double after James Doyle won the concluding 1600m turf handicap with Key Victory, whose late flourish helped him to a length and a half win over David O’Meara’s Firmament with Simon Crisford’s Rastrelli taking third a further length and a quarter behind.
Racing began with the only Purebred Arabian contest on the card, the 1600m PA Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1, which witnessed Eric Lemartinel’s RB Money To Burn do a gate to post en route to a four and a half length victory. Ridden by Fabrice Veron, RB Money To Burn broke well with ES Ajeeb in hot pursuit, but after Lemartinel’s charge kicked clear with 500m left, the fight was for second which went to Erwan Charpy’s Cheik Roque, who finished with a late flourish down the centre under Brett Doyle. Ernst Oertel’s Szczepan Mazur ridden AF Al Sajanjle was further back by a neck in third.
Watson was the third trainer to enjoy a double success on the night, winning his first with Ekhtiyaar who took Race 2, a 1200m sprint handicap on turf by a length and three fourths from Jamie Osborne’s Richard Mullen ridden Dream Today. In third place was Al Mheiri’s Moqarrab, who had Fresu aboard.