Comicas & Winter Lightning wins feature races at Meydan

Winter Lightning (IRE) and Rayya (USA)
Winter Lightning (IRE) and Rayya (USA) almost nose to nose close to the finish at the UAE 1000 Guineas Triall.
The second night of the 2018 Dubai World Cup Carnival on Thursday was highlighted by the Group 3 Dubawi Stakes. The 1200m dirt sprint was won in scintillating fashion by Godolphin’s Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) runner-up Comicas under William Buick for trainer Charlie Appleby.

Upgraded this year from Listed status, having been inaugurated in 2010, the Dubawi Stakes had been one of the few feature races in the UAE to allude Godolphin, but Comicas remedied that in style.

Settled in midfield among just seven runners, Buick’s mount arguably looked in trouble at halfway, behind a furious early gallop set by Yalta, who was constantly hassled by My Catch and Muarrab. It was the last named, about 300m out, who looked to have gained a decisive initiative, but his early exertions appeared to take their toll and he was defenceless to the late charge of the winner.

In landing this, Comicas also reversed course and distance form with Muarrab from the Listed Garhoud Sprint four weeks ago. Fan favourite and local legend Reynaldothewizard, at an astonishing 12-years-old, closed well to finish third.

“He is a lovely, honest horse who handles this surface particularly well and the one thing we do know about him is he may be a bit outpaced early, but he is going to run home strongly,” Buick said. “That basically is what he has done here because they went very hard up front, as we expected, and it has panned out perfectly for him. The horse deserves a big win like this and it is great for the whole team.”

The meeting commenced with the UAE 1000 Guineas Trial sponsored by Al Maryah Island, a 1400m dirt conditions race restricted to 3-year-old fillies that produced a thrilling finish with Rayya and Winter Lightning and the latter winning by a nose at the wire after a thrilling 300m stretch battle.

Doug Watson-trained Rayya, victorious on her sole previous outing, tried to make all under Pat Dobbs. Entering the home straight, she had 12 of her rivals beaten, but Godolphin’s Winter Lightning, under Pat Cosgrave, drew alongside that rival 300m out and stuck the front soon after. Also having just her second career start, when second in a 1400m Newmarket maiden in October, the Saeed bin Suroor trainee held gamely as Rayya fought back gallantly to the wire and the pair flashed past the post locked together.

Cosgrave said: “It was only her second start and luckily her head was down on the line when it mattered. I probably went to the front too soon as it transpired, given her inexperience, but she certainly seems to have plenty of class and you would like to think she can build on this.”

Winter Lightning is a half-sister to dual Group 1 winner Thunder Snow who also won both the UAE 2000 Guineas and UAE Derby last year. Her full-sister, Group 1-placed Ihtimal, won both the UAE 1000 Guineas and UAE Oaks (G3) in 2014 – two races which appear to be on deck for her younger sibling.

Not a carnival race, the 2000m turf handicap, the Mubadala Global Trophy, was won in style by Janszoon, trained by Ali Rashid Al Rayhi and replicating his course and distance victory of two weeks ago when ridden by stable jockey Tadhg O’Shea, who incurred a suspension on that occasion for which this was the final meeting. Silvestre De Sousa in the saddle, the lightly raced son of Dubawi responded in style in the straight.

“I had hoped to be in the first half dozen, but for some reason he did not really travel well early on, so I was farther back than I wanted,” De Sousa said. “I had to keep niggling and keep him interested and then, suddenly, he was back on the bridle and really quickened for me. Then once in front, he has idled and was probably value for a bigger winning distance. He could well be a carnival horse.”

Rayya and Janszoon are both owned by Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, as is Watson-conditioned Kimbear, who pulverised eight rivals in his local bow under Pat Dobbs, a 1600m dirt handicap, the CEPSA Energy Cup. Watson, who has never hidden his excitement about the horse’s potential, was quite pleased with the effort and indicated that there could be more to see from the son of Temple City. Tracking behind the leaders and taking dirt well, Kimbear tipped out turning for home and won with easy by five lengths over stable companion Layl.

“We were very hopeful coming here this evening because this horse’s work has always been very good and he certainly has not disappointed,” Dobbs said. “We broke well, but they went quick enough up front, so I was happy to take my time and, given his American background, he was happy enough in the kickback. He is a decent horse and that was a very good performance; one he can hopefully progress from.”

Only eight went to post for the Yahsat Satellite Cup, a 2000m turf handicap, but it produced quite a spectacle with Light the Lights and Blair House locked in a fierce tussle throughout the final 300m. It was the former, under Christope Soumillon, who prevailed for Mike de Kock and Sheikh Mohd bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, winning for the first time since landing the Singspiel Stakes on the opening night of the 2017 Dubai World Cup Carnival.

Seventh in that same race, just last week, he clearly benefitted from the outing and Soumillon said: “Mike is a very good trainer, as we all know, and would not be running this horse back after just a week if he was not happy he could produce a run like that.

“He needed that comeback run last week and I was always pretty happy, but Blair House came there going very strongly, so we had to fight,” Soumillon continued. “This is not a horse who wants to be in front too long, so I was happy to have a rival and a battle because that suits him. He should build on this and go back up in class.”

The finale, the Global Foundries Semi-Conductor Trophy, an ultra-competitive 1600m turf handicap, was won by classy and lightly raced 4-year-old Godolphin gelding Salsabeel. Ridden by Buick for Appleby, the son of Exceed and Excel was making just his fifth lifetime start and first since a non-threatening 12th in the French 2000 Guineas (G1) in mid-May. Pulling clear at the top of the lane, he held off a game surge from Hornsby and jockey Mickael Barzalona.

Salsabeel capped a fine day for Appleby as the conditioner had two wins, two seconds and two thirds from eight starters.

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