Racing at Meydan Racecourse on Saturday was highlighted by DP World, UAE Region, a 1600m turf handicap in which the maximum allowed field of 14 went to post. The AED 190,000 event was won in style by Mailshot, who is trained by Salem bin Ghadayer for His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum.
Settled well off the pace by Mickael Barzalona as Sam Hitchcott set the early pace on Pillar of Society, Mailshot cruised into contention at the top of the lane, bobbed and weaved through horses and eventually reached the front with about 200m to go.
The U. S.-bred son of Hard Spun hit the wire a half-length to the good of a game and rallying Musawaat under Adrie De Vries.
“He did not seem to handle the dirt on his first start for us, but has now produced four solid runs on turf,” Barzalona said.
“He stays further, so I was happy they went a strong gallop, which has really helped me. He took me into the race going very strongly. He is a nice horse and, as only a four-year-old, hopefully still improving and going to be a very nice horse next season.”
Trainer Doug Watson dominated the Mina Rashid, a 2000m dirt handicap, saddling Dehbashi to beat stable companion Grand Argentier, who tried to make all under Tadhg O’Shea. Pat Dobbs was aboard the winner, who stalked until commencing a rally to catch his yard-mate in midstretch.
Dobbs said: “Basically I was happy to take my time, because I wanted something to aim at in the straight, which is exactly what happened. This is not a horse you want to hit the front on too early, but everything panned out perfectly today.”
The trainer went on to complete a double in the Mina Hamriya, a 1600m dirt handicap, in which the admirable 8-year-old Moosir posted his third win of the season and second over course and distance. Ridden by Jim Crowley, riding for his main employer, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, he was held up just behind the early speed before taking the lead halfway up the straight and grinding out a 1¼-length victory over the Satish Seemar-trained duo of Mazeed and Simple Attack.
“He is such an amazingly versatile horse, be it 1200m, 1440m or this 1600m, it does not seem to matter to him,” Crowley said.
“We took the blinkers off him tonight, which over this 1600m, has probably helped him.”
The Jebel Ali Port, a 1200m dirt handicap, seemed to be run at a furious early gallop but Call to War was able to chase that early speed, take up the running just after halfway and keep on going to the line. Winner of his only start in his native America, Call to War was opening his local account at the seventh attempt.
Trained by Gopi Selvaratnam, the chestnut son of High Cotton is owned by Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and was partnered confidently by Brett Doyle.
“The plan was always to keep him out of the kickback so, being drawn nine of nine was not a bad thing in that regard,” Doyle said.
“I had to race three wide but I was always pretty happy there and knew the two in front were likely to come back to me. This horse has plenty of speed but sees out this 1200m very well so, basically, everything was ideal today.”
Dawwass was the smooth winner of the Mina Rashid Marina, a turf maiden over 1800m. Trained by Satish Seemar for Ali Haddad and given a polished ride by Richard Mullen, the 4-year-old chestnut gelding settled in the middle of the 14 runners, before easing into contention on the home turn and hitting the front about 650m out. From there, the pair never really looked in danger.
It was a ninth, but only second on turf, career start for the son of Speightstown.
“We had a nice low draw and always thought the galloping Meydan turf track would suit him and it has,” Mullen said. “There are not many turf maidens in the UAE, but we always thought this was an ideal race for him and it has proved so.”
There was only one filly among the ten who took their chance in the opening National Industries Park, a 1600m dirt maiden, and Heart Power ran out the decisive winner over the boys. Sent straight to the front by Adrie de Vries and sporting the colours of Dr Ali Ridha for trainer Ismail Mohammed, the daughter of Poet’s Voice always looked to be in control.
Once committed for home, she kicked on nicely and was throttled down slightly near the wire to win by 2¾ lengths over Rua Augusta.
Dutchman De Vries said: “She broke very well today, which was great so we could utilise her big stride. She was really enjoying herself out in front; pricking her ears and going at a sensible pace. In her first two starts, over 1400m, she was never able to get into a rhythm, but today she did. I was very confident throughout the race because she will stay further than this 1600m, but was always going well within herself today.”
In the 1200m Jebel Ali Free Zone handicap down the chute resulted in a sharp victory by Jaber Ramadhan-trained Big Time, who quickly moved toward the outside rail and never looked to be headed in the final 400m. Ridden by Antonio Fresu for owner Aqeel Hassan AbdulRahim, the son of Kheleyf won by a length and appeared to have more in reserve at the wire.
“I think when they moved the rail out, the best ground is the stands-side,” Fresu said. “I followed instructions. The trainer just told me to go straight and (try to) to stick to the outside. He told me to be handy and the horse responded really well. He’s a nice horse and can improve from this race.”
The nightcap was the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Cruise Terminal handicap over 2000m on dirt. The race was won in dominating fashion by Sheeba, who gave trainer Watson his third win of the evening from eight races. Always prominent, the dark bay son of Nayef proved much the best in the final 300m, widening impressively to win by 12½ lengths under Dobbs.
“He gets thing in his own way, but when he gets things in his favor he’s very good,” Dobbs said. “He can get agitated in the gate and that’s his downfall, but tonight he was very relaxed.”