It seems to happen once a year, and it did on Thursday – rain at Meydan. Typically, we’ve seen races run significantly faster than par when the courses are moistened naturally, and some occasional odd results. On Thursday, we indeed played witness to a faster course (significantly faster than racing on opening night), but nothing too crazy in the results category. As always, pictures are courtesy of Cedric Lane/UAERacingPictures. For more information, email Cedric at UAERacingPictures @ gmail.com.
Bravo Ragazzo (pictured below) got the night started with a cozy win over Tarbawi in the maiden lidlifter. If Tarbawi did NOT win this race, we aren’t sure when it’s going to happen. He had everything go his way and still couldn’t get there. Perhaps it will come over 2,000 metres on December 19, as the next maiden at Meydan is scheduled for a mile on December 5. Tarbawi had a brilliant ground saving trip behind a quick tempo, but Bravo Ragazzo loomed large the entire race and broke a big space on the field turning for home, really one of the preferred methods of nipping a win at Meydan.
Bravo Ragazzo earned the win at the seventh time of asking. A son of Pivotal out of the Danehill mare Kitza, The first of three consecutive training wins at the meeting for Ali Rashid Al Raihe’s squad, Bravo Ragazzo was bred in Ireland by Rockfield Farm. We don’t want to lend too much credence to Oakham’s third-placing, as he may have been drawn into the race off the hot tempo. Regardless, he ran well. The final time of 1:59.11 was more than five seconds faster than handicappers ran on opening night over the same distance. That same group, who ran so slow in the finale on November 7, were represented in the last race of the night – more on that later.
Mundahesh caught our eye when watching his all weather races from 2012 at Kempton and Wolverhampton – he lengthened his stride in ways he didn’t do in other grass races, just seemingly better suited to the synthetic surfaces.
Lacking any other strong opinion in the second event, we tipped Mundahesh, returning a nice price in the international markets. He loomed well off a slightly wide trip and just lasted from a late-closing Jamhoori, who was put up four pounds in the ratings off his closing effort. Owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and bred by his Shadwell Estate in Ireland, Mundahesh now races off a breakpoint rating of 86, and will surely not see the grass anytime soon. The final time of this race was more than three seconds faster than the two 1,400-metre races on opening night. Al Farahidi’s ability to hang around off the quick tempo and hold fourth was, to us, a key sign that some horses simply grip this course better than others when going from the front when wet.
What can we say about Haatheq (below)? He won the conditions event against wildly overmatched competition. Brett Williams and Laura King from Dubai Racing Channel noted that the Godolphin Mile second seemed a bit heavy for his debut. If this was a race to get some of the cobwebs out, it clearly worked. The Shadwell-bred son of Seeking The Gold is still an entire, and obviously maintained his rating with the performance.
On the international market, Busker was ignored at 25-1 for reasons we really couldn’t fathom, thinking he was one of two legitimate runners who could potentially turn the upset. He ran a good third, beaten two lengths, for Adrie de Vries and trainer Mubarak bin Shafya, propelling his handicap rating to 95, making him eligible for the Carnival as a result.
After running fourth in the Mahab Al Shimaal, a Dubai Golden Shaheen prep in 2010, Prince Shaun was rated 106 and earned a spot in the inaugural Al Quoz Sprint run on World Cup night. He absolutely blew the break and lost all chance immediately. It’s been a LONG slog down the ratings for the Irish-bred son of Acclamation, never getting in the top three since a second placing in one of the first Carnival meetings at Meydan. EERC representative Justin Byrne reported a few weeks back that Prince Shaun was longing for a 1,400-metre event at Meydan, finally got it, but then had a slightly elevated temperature and missed the race.
Could Prince Shaun have seemed better suited to 1,400 at Meydan? He looked a likely winner with 200 to go in the 1,600-metre race, but was nabbed in the shadow of the post by Tamarrud, the Abdullah bin Huzaim-trained son of Authorized, out of the Gone West mare, Miss Hepburn.
There should be no arguing about the story of the season in the riding ranks thus far – the improvement of apprentice Saeed Al Mazrooei, who recorded his fourth win from 32 starts this season. His wins have come from on the lead, off the pace, and basically – the clock in his head is firing on all cylinders at the moment. In the last three years prior to this season, Al Mazrooei has nine wins in the UAE from 249 mounts, a 3.6% strike rate. He’s hitting 3.4 times greater than that, and it’s still early days. Bravo to Saeed for his early season success and continued good luck!
It wasn’t easy for Innocuous (pictured below) to get home in front, but the Darley-bred son of Zafeen got back on top. We were keen on his chances after an impossibly wide run on opening night of the Meydan stand. He was in a perfect position for jockey Wayne Smith, but the gaps simply did not come when he needed them. Sure enough, Wayne made his own space, and smartly followed Sand Stamp before diving to the inside to last. Second placer Spin Cycle ran a very credible race, and covered eight metres more than the winner based off the Trakus data. The final time of 1:10.81 made the race the ninth-fastest over the distance in this history of Meydan from 53 to be run.
You just had to be against El Mansour in the finale. He got away with pure theft in his opening-night front-running charade and barely lasted to take the score. There was going to be no such luck this week, and it showed early. His early sectional times on the lead this week were nearly two seconds faster after the first 400, and more than 4.5 seconds faster through the first 800 metres. As one would predict, he faded out of the running to finish tenth. Antinori was eligible to improve in this spot, and managed to do so. For the son of Fasliyev out of a Spectrum mare, bred in Ireland by Pater Harris, it was the first win since February 2010 at Meydan. Well done to trainer Satish Seemar and jockey Richard Mullen on the partnership. We have to give credit to Representation for proving his run two weeks ago was legitimate. He covered 12 metres more than the winner.
Racing returns to Meydan on Thursday, December 5.