By Duane Fonseca


Red Stables supremo Doug Watson might have felt the chill of many a winless night recently, but the American handler warmed up nicely for the international half of the season at Meydan Friday evening after Golden Goal scored with a stunning effort to land the feature Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge R1 under Sam Hitchcott.

And in winning by a length and a half ahead of Bhupat Seemar’s Secret Ambition, the ride of Tadhg O’Shea, the 8yo Dark Angel gelding avenged his defeat by said foe in the Group 2 Godolphin Mile on last year’s Dubai World Cup card.

O’Shea raced to a similar plan as he did in the Godolphin Mile leading Secret Ambition to the front. He might have led by a neck, but with Hitchcott settling Golden Goal into a nice spot right beside him on the inside rail, Watson’s charge was always going to be tough to shake off.

Turning for home, Golden Goal appeared to be a shade ahead, but Secret Ambition wasn’t going to give up and turned it into a match race, with Golden Goal ridden hard until the post for a deserving victory. Seemar enjoyed a 2-3 as William Buick expertly guided Kafoo into third from way back in the field.

The other Group 2 event on the card, the 1600m Cape Verdi on turf, was won with a late flourish by Hiroo Shimizu’s Pevensey Bay.

Running in Group company for the first time, the 6yo Footstepsinthesand mare raced in the hands of French legend Olivier Peslier, who brought her home first after finding himself locked in along the rail at second last.

The pair rounded the entire field ahead of them in the straight and came home three fourths of a length ahead of Niels Petersen’s Ascot Brass, the ride of Pat Cosgrave.

A further half length back in third was Wedding Dance for Charlie Appleby and Buick.

Brazilian conditioner Antonio Cintra Pereira claimed his second winner this season after Bet Law hit the ground running on his UAE debut in the Festival City Stakes, a conditions sprint over 1200m. It was a third straight win for the Uruguayan representative, who arrived in Dubai on the back of two straight wins at Maronas Racecourse in Montevideo.

That was after the card opening PA Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge was won in some style by Fawzi Nass’ RB Rich Lyke Me, who turned in another solid performance on his step back up in class.

The American bred 6yo grey son of Majd Al Arab had thumped the opposition by 13 lengths in the PA Group 2 Bani Yas last month and without much fuss, he once again leapt to the front and kicked clear 600m out to finish four clear at the post from Jean-Claude Pecout’s Pat Dobbs ridden Brraq, who won this corresponding race last year.

A further six and three fourths behind in third was MH Rahal for trainer Elise Jeanne and jockey Dane O’Neill.

There is talk of RB Rich Lyke Me taking a trip to Riyadh for the $2 million Obaiyan Arabian Classic, while locally he’ll definitely be wanted for the PA Group 1 Dubai Kahayla Classic on the Dubai World Cup card.

After Bet Law raced clear by three lengths, Saeed bin Suroor and Charlie Appleby won Godolphin back to back races, with Dubai Future delivering the 2410m Listed Dubai Racing Club Classic on turf with a late surge under Pat Cosgrave for the former and Sovereign Prince holding on to win the Jumeirah Classic Trial, a conditions run over 1400m, with Buick up.

The final race of the night, the Listed Dubai Dash 1000m turf sprint down the chute, was clinched by Musabbeh Al Mheiri’s Antonio Fresu driven Mutaraffa, who went one better after finishing runner up in last year’s edition.

Royal Crusade was second for Appleby and Buick.