The overall feel of the card on Thursday at Meydan felt like it would be tough, and it was. Bar Waahy besting Shaishee in the maiden opener, as tipped in our analysis, it was very slow going. Here are a few thoughts on the card.
If you want a horse to take out of the first race, it is the debuting Asmar, from the Fawzi Nass barn. Whenever we can praise a particularly good ride – we do – and Hussain Maki gave this colt a fantastic ride after a tardy dispatch. He was among the first to load, and the process was a long one. The half-brother to American-based turf star Zagora blew the break, settled well back, saved ground for most of the far turn when he was angled outside and ran on with aplomb. Both Asmar and the winner, Waahy, were moving similarly, running the final 400 metres in roughly the same time. Still, Waahy deserved to graduate as he did, and Shaishee ran another decent race to be second. Waahy is by Manduro out of the Tiger Hill mare, Wonder Why. Bred by Rabbah Bloodstock in Ireland, Waahy is trained by Ali Al Raihe and was ridden by Royston Ffrench, the first of two wins on the night for the combination.
There were questions about both Surge Ahead and Parvaaz in the second race, emerging from a tussle between the two a few weeks earlier. Maltese Cat, third behind that pair, got William Twiston-Davies his second win in the UAE, and the first of four winners on the card for Musabah Al Muhairi.
Thomas Brown got Jamhoori home narrowly over local debuter Dairam in the third race handicap. Bred in the UK by Minster Enterprises and owned by Tareq Ahmed bin Jumah Al Teneiji, Jamhoori landed his second win in 23 lifetime starts.
We tipped Comicality and Festival City to run second and third, which they did, but Hattaash winning was not in our vision. Under Dane O’Neill, the son of Oasis Dream bred by 6V Rcing Ltd. improved in his second local start, moving up six pounds in the ratings.
Not many can suggest they saw it coming from Ghaamer, a son of Hard Spun out of Teeba, a Seeking The Gold mare, after a listless local debut at Jebel Ali just six days before reemerging at Meydan. But he went to the lead under Royston Ffrench and was never for catching.
The night ended with a celebration from jockey Andrew Nienaber, the South African Jockey Academy product who was having his first mount in the UAE. Aboard Paschendale for the Al Muhairi, Nienaber saved plenty of ground in a race where several of the key contenders were very wide, and pushed for a hole that he got before his rivals. Paschendale lengthened in the stretch and earned his first win in the UAE since February 2011, and just his third career tally.
It’s on to the Carnival!