SUPER SATURDAY, the ‘dress rehearsal’ for the Dubai World Cup meeting three weeks later with all seven races the ‘mirror image’ of one of the nine races on the big night itself, was dominated by Godolphin but the show was arguably stolen by Capezzano. The night’s official feature and the recognised stepping stone towards the world’s richest horse race, the $12 million Group 1 Dubai World Cup, over the same 2000m on the dirt, the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3 was turned into a procession by Capezzano, sent straight to the front by Mickael Barzalona and never headed.
Godolphin’s Thunder Snow, second in this last year before landing the Dubai World Cup itself, seemingly loomed as a big danger entering the straight under Christophe Soumillon but, as their challenge faltered, Barzalona and Capezzano shot clear. Trained by Salem bin Ghadayer, who only returned to the training ranks last weekend having served a one year suspension, for Sultan Ali, the 5yo gelded son of Bernardini arrived here having won both his previous outings, a pair of 1600m dirt handicaps at Meydan. Bin Ghadayer said: “We were not worried about stepping him up in trip and we were pretty confident he would stay well.
“If you watch his last races over 1600m he was certainly not stopping at the end so we were keen to try him over this distance. “Both his style of running and pedigree encouraged us to try him over the extra distance so we were hopeful. “He is growing up and maturing all the time which helps him in his races because he is more relaxed and happy. “It will be nice to have another runner in the Dubai World Cup, especially with a progressive horse.” Barzalona added: “He did it very well. I wasn’t very confident about the longer trip, but Salem told me to try it. I made a strong effort to lead and I was lucky because he was breathing well in the middle of the race. Just before I asked him to go, the last 3f, he really picked up nicely.”
The finale and main turf race on the card, the 1800m Group 1 Jebel Hatta, provided Godolphin a fourth winner on the card, Saeed bin Suroor combining with Christophe Soumillon and Dream Castle who was making it three victories from as many outings at Meydan in 2019. A 5yo by Frankel, he was gelded at the end of the last European campaign having not won since his racecourse debut as a 3yo but is now unbeaten since that trip to the vet, adding this to the Group 3 Singspiel Stakes he won on the opening night of the carnival and the Group 2 Al Rashidiya. Bin Suroor landed both those races last year with Benbatl, second in this Jebel Hatta before going on to land the Group 1 Dubai Turf on the Dubai World Cup card.
As with his previous carnival victories, Dream Castle was settled well off the pace before accelerating in taking fashion throughout the straight to win fairly comfortably. Bin Suroor said: “Like Benbatl last year, this horse has progressed throughout the carnival and he is a classy horse who Christophe knows very well. “After his last win we talked to Sheikh Mohammed and decided to come here. We will now go towards the Dubai Turf which Benbatl won last season.” Soumillon added: “The last two runs were quite impressive so I was really confident with him today, even with that wide draw. The race went well for us. We had a nice pace.
When I saw I was behind Wootton, I was very confident, because I knew he was going to take me quite far. “When I asked him to go, he really quickened sharply. When I hit the front, he was looking around for a while. He’s a really different horse compared to last year, when he was still a colt.”
The meeting commenced with the Group 3 Mahab Al Shimaal over 1200m on dirt in which Drafted ran on strongly to lead close home with Pat Dobbs aboard for Doug Watson and Misty Hollow Farm. Drawn eight of the ten runners would not be considered ideal for many but Drafted is a horse who tends to struggle in the first half of 1200m races before finishing strongly, which is exactly what happened here. With Lavaspin, I Kirk and Switzerland setting a ferocious early gallop, the last named burned off the other pair early in the straight but had no answer to eventual runner-up Nine Below Zero, who led briefly 75m out, Tato Key who was third and finally Drafted.
Course and distance winner of the Listed Garhoud Sprint in December, the 5yo gelded son of Field Commission also won the Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint, again over this 1200m, in January and has now won four times since joining Watson. Watson said: “He is a great horse to be involved with but not always good for the nerves given his style of racing. “Pat has given him a great ride there, keeping him out of the kickback and they went very quick which has really suited him.” Dobbs added: “During the first 2f, you don’t feel confident. Then, when you hit the bend, you feel confident and he knows what it’s all about. I was following Tato Key and he gave me a nice lead up the straight.“He jumped better today before he was squashed out a bit, but with his style, it doesn’t bother him. He is starting to get clever and is getting better.
He idled his way home the last part, saving a little bit, but he’ll need that. He’s a different horse this year physically.” Muntazah provided Doug Watson with a second winner on the card with a very easy victory in the Group 3 Burj Nahaar, over the same 1600m on dirt as the Godolphin Mile in which he was second to Heavy Metal last March.With that rival missing the break badly on this occasion, Muntazah, perfectly drawn in stall one, was soon at the head of affairs under Jim Crowley, sporting the famous blue and white silks of his main employer, Sheikh Hamdan and, once Crowley shook the reins at his mount leaving the home turn, the race was effectively over.
Homebred, the 6yo gelded son of Dubawi was actually making his dirt debut when runner-up in the 2018 Godolphin Mile and was winning on the surface for a second time having, on his previous start three weeks earlier, won the Group 3 Firebreak Stakes over the same 1600m. Crowley said: “He is a big horse but has plenty of natural speed so, drawn one, I was determined to hold that position even if Heavy Metal wanted it but he then missed the break. “So, in the end, everything has worked out perfectly and he is just a horse who improves with his racing because, as I say, he is a big horse who takes plenty of work to get fit.”
The middle leg of the UAE Triple Crown, over 1900m on the dirt surface and restricted to 3yos, the Listed Al Bastakiya was won comprehensively by Godolphin’s UAE Oaks heroine, Divine Image who, once pulled off the heels of rivals at the top of the straight, powered home under Brett Doyle who was riding for Charlie Appleby. Sheikh Mohammed was present to witness the 3yo daughter from the final crop of Scat Daddy prove far too good for her 13 rivals under Doyle, who was in the saddle because she only carried 53kg, a weight stable jockey, William Buick cannot manage.
Settled just behind the leaders, Doyle always looked happy apart from, perhaps briefly, when forced to wait to pull out to throw down the decisive challenge. Doyle said: “Any carnival winner here at Meydan is great but with Sheikh Mohammed here it is a bit more special. “Charlie warned me the week before I would likely be riding her because she would have such a low weight so I was well prepared. “She was very well behaved and relaxed today which is progress because she has had a few problems. “In the race everything went pretty smoothly and she was still a bit green so is only going to improve.” Appleby added: “Brett has been riding her at home to get to know her and gave her a great ride there.
“Obviously the UAE Derby is now a consideration but we also have the Kentucky Oaks as a possibility.” The first turf feature on the card, the 1200m Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint, was won comprehensively by Blue Point, completing a quick double for Appleby and Godolphin with William Buick in the saddle on this occasion. Denied the opportunity to take his chance when hot favourite for the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint in March last year having been withdrawn at the start on veterinary advice, the 5yo entire son of Shamardal won the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in June and was far too good for his ten rivals here.
Not the quickest away, he was settled in midfield by Buick before pulled nearside at the halfway point when he quickened in style to hit the front just after halfway after which they never looked in any trouble. Buick said: “The Al Quoz Sprint is obviously the main target but Charlie and the team decided to run him here to get another race under his belt. “He is a horse who can get quite fresh so it was probably a good move and he has really quickened in the style of the class horse we know he is.” Buick was then able to extricate Old Persian from traffic problems just in time to provide Appleby and Godolphin a third winner on the card, leading close home to snatch the prize in the Group 2 Dubai City of Gold over 2410m on the turf.
Having tracked the leaders, headed by Racing History, for much of the race, Buick was suddenly short of room early in the straight and forced to sit and suffer as the race unfolded around him. However, once he found racing room, he found a willing partner in the 4yo Dubawi colt who was a Royal Ascot winner last year, as well as defeating stable companion and subsequent Melbourne Cup winner, Cross Counter, in the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York. Appleby said: “Christophe has given Racing History a superb ride from the front and then William, through no fault of his own, has found himself on the rail with no real racing room. “However, once they pulled out, he has shown a really impressive turn of foot and managed to get there in time.
“He will have to step up in class now but he is improving and we have left a bit to work on.” Buick added: “I can’t imagine it was pretty watching it, but I had so much horse underneath me I was never too worried. The way the race developed, it was a funny one; halfway around the turn, everyone was starting to move. I started to make my move and was stuck behind a wall of horses. Once he was in the clear, he really picked up well so it was a lovely performance.”