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Recapping 2011 DIRC Night 2

Godolphin started 18 horses on Thursday’s card at Meydan and claimed ten placings in the seven races, including wins in the final three races of the night, while Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum preceeded that with a double.  Horses stabled in Dubai were 7-for-7 on the night with wins for Mike De Kock and Ali Rashid Al Raihe opening the night.  Let’s review some of the specific winners and losers from another quality night of racing.  Frankie Dettori landed the first Cape Verdi of his career, one of the few races run in Dubai he had yet to win…until Thursday.

Photo courtesy – EERC photographer Cedric Lane


1.  Godolphin – Obvious.

2.  Richard Hills – He took a double for the home stable when getting Zanzamar home in 2,000 Guineas trial, a race that trainer Mike De Kock indicated was likely over his minimum trip. If so, there could be good things to come from this son of Fort Wood who improved to three lifetime wins from seven starts. 

3.  Ali Rashid Al Raihe – A training double for the current fourth in the 2010-2011 UAE thoroughbred trainer standings. His Happy Dubai was a surprise in the second race over the minimum 1,000 metres trip on grass, the first win on grass for the son of Indian Ridge.  Derbaas earned his third win of the season, and first locally on the grass, while Yirga drew into the opener and nearly yanked a massive shocker before Solid Choice completed the run from behind. 

4.  Closers – Simon De Montfort’s win in the last seemed a likely outcome after he ran from 14th and last down the back of the track, running into a swift pace set by Bon Grain.  The timings Terry Spargo has sprinkled into his race calls are insightful in knowing how things might go, and they played out to form in the 2,000-metre finale.  Similarly, in the first race of the night, Solid Choice was well behind and proved that as long as there is a pace to run at, you can indeed close at Meydan.  There were a few international complainers last week that closing over the Tapeta was difficult, but those gruffs were merely blustre considering the results this week.


1.  Internationals – At this point, horses who ship into Dubai in late December or early January would be considered foreign horses, not those trained by Mike De Kock.  Thursday saw two horses sent in for the Carnival from abroad to grab placings, Walter Swinburn trainee Monsieur Joe and Thai Haku, a longshot for Mikel Dezangles in the Cape Verdi. 

2.  River Jetez – The legitimate Group 1 horse from South Africa, a full to Durban July winner Pocket Power, caught a tough trip and Christophe Soumillon went for a hole that wasn’t there, claimed foul, and settled for third.  This really reminds me of Zirconeum from last year who came in with a healthy resume, caught a bad trip in the Cape Verdi, and did nothing when backing up later in the Carnival, so hopefully that trend doesn’t continue.  She was on even keel with the winner past the post and with a better trip, seemed a winner.  This De Kock runner could be tough going forward.

3.  Favorites…again – Those backing favorites in the international commingled pools found some tough finishes yet again at the Carnival as Sahara Kingdom, Kingsfort, Star Empire, and River Jetez all failed at odds of less than 2-1. 


The $200,000 Al Rashidiya (G2) at 1,800 on the lawn leads the way as does a DRC Gold Cup prep over 2,800 metres.  Another great week awaits.


  1. Not really sure how Soumillon could’ve claimed foul in the Cape Verdi? His horse wasn’t interfered with. It was just an extremely poor ride by Soumillon. As you said, he went for a gap that just wasn’t there. Not his finest hour at Meydan by any means. I was extremely impressed with Simon De Montfort as well. Not sure why this colt was held out of all the classic races for 3yr.old’s in France? But it looks very obvious to me he could’ve been a very legit contender in the French 2000 Guineas, Prix Du Jockey Club, or the Prix Jean-Prat. I also thought Godolphin’s Zeitoper ran a really big effort to snag 3rd in that race to have been off of the racetrack since October, 2009. He came into that race undefeated in 3 starts. But he looks a horse that will clearly improve off of that effort, IMO. He’s a full brother to Eastern Anthem. And there’s been very few better carnival horses over the past few seasons than Eastern Anthem. I thought Spring of Fame had an impressive win. But he’s just flatly a much a better horse on synthetic surface than he is on turf. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him run a big effort if he goes in Rd.2 or Rd.3 of the Al Maktoum Challenge? I also think the Al Maktoum colt that finished 2nd to Spring of Fame, Haatheq, could be a horse to keep an eye on during the carnival. He’s been putting in really big efforts everywhere he’s raced, on every surface. Ran well on turf in the UK. Ran well on conventional dirt at Jebel Ali. And ran well on the Tapeta at Meydan. He could be one of the surprise horses of the carnival? And lastly, I have to through a shout out to Derbaas. He looked good in both of his win’s on the Tapeta during the winter meeting at Meydan. But I’ll have to admit that I was skeptical that he could reproduce that same form on the turf. Especially against horses the quality of Here To Win and Kingsfort. But apparently Derbaas’s great form knows no boundaries to surface right now.

  2. I’ve been a huge thoroughbred racing fan every since I was just a kid. Growing up, and living in Kentucky all of my life. I remember very fondly those trips to Keenland that I used to take with my father, who passed in 2009. I live about an hour from Keenland, and about 90 minutes from Churchill Downs. I’ve been fortunate enough to see the Bluegrass Stakes and some other big races at Keenland, and I’ve been to the Kentucky Derby multiple times. But I see all of these great international horses that come to Dubai year in and year out. And all of these photo’s of the beautiful new facility at Meydan. And I think what I wouldn’t give to get to make a trip to Dubai, and see some great racing at Meydan just one time in my life before I die!! Really enjoy your reading articles about the Dubai Carnival Mr. Cummings!!

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