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First turf races usher in New Year at Meydan

Champion trainer Watson looks to have strong hand at District One-sponsored meeting

Gulf News

Dubai: Meydan Racecourse stages the first meeting of 2018 on Thursday evening with a clutch of exciting races on the cards, including the venue’s first two turf races of the season. Sponsored by Pillar Partner Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City — District One it is also the final Meydan meeting before opening night of the 2018 Dubai World Cup Carnival next Thursday.

With 12 Meydan winners to his credit already this season, Champion Trainer Doug Watson, who has twice saddled four winners during a meeting at the track this campaign, looks to have strong chances throughout the card. That includes two in the featured handicap — Thegreatcollection and Galvanize.

Stable jockey Pat Dobbs has elected to ride Thegreatcollection, who was the trainer’s 500th victory when landing a 1,400-metre Meydan handicap six weeks ago. Before that, he was third to stable companion Galvanize at the first Meydan fixture of the campaign in early November. Said effort was over Thursday’s 1,600-m course and distance, as was Galvanize’s subsequent victory four weeks ago. Sam Hitchcott, aboard that day, is again atop Galvanize.

Watson said: “This looks a good opportunity for both of them and it would be hard to separate them. Galvanize, we hope, is a Carnival horse and Thegreatcollection is already rated high enough for the Carnival, but this race comes at the right time for him. Both have had a nice break since their last race and seem in great form. The draw could have been kinder, but we have to be hopeful of a big run from both of them in a tough race.”

Salem Bin Ghadayer was the trainer to follow at Jebel Ali last Friday where he celebrated a treble and he saddles four of the 10 runners, including Mailshot, the mount of Mickael Barzalona. The world-class jockey will be riding in the UAE for the first time since the Dubai World Cup card in March.

A winner four times in England when trained by Mark Johnston, Mailshot will be making his local and dirt debut. The trainer’s three Jebel Ali winners were all partnered by Royston Ffrench, who is aboard Claim The Roses, second to stablemate Frankyfourfingers at Jebel Ali last week. Ghadayer’s other two offering in the contest are Flashy Snapper and Mind That Boy.

Three of the remaining four runners are trained by Satish Seemar. Stable jockey Richard Mullen has opted to ride Secret Ambition a 1,400-metre winner at Meydan a week ago. Connor Beasley rides Parliamentarian (post 9) with Antonio Fresu aboard the third Seemar runner, Speedy Move.

Assistant trainer Bhupat Seemar said: “We know Secret Ambition likes it at Meydan and looks to have a good chance in a strong race. We are stepping Speedy Move up in trip, which we hope will suit him and Parliamentarian is a new horse who works well on dirt, but will be racing on it for the first time.”

The first of the turf races is a 2,000-metre handicap in which Watson saddles four of the 12 runners. Two are owned by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, whose first jockey Jim Crowley has chosen Ostaad (post 9). Owner and trainer also combine with Nolohay, the mount of Pat Cosgrave, while Dobbs rides Tried And True with Hitchcott aboard Grand Argentier.

“All four are in good form,” Watson said. “Ostaad has run well twice at Abu Dhabi this season and this is a nice turf chance for him at Meydan. He is perhaps the best chance of our four, but I hope they can all run well.”

Dane O’Neill, who is also employed by Shaikh Hamdan, could have ridden Nolohay, but instead partners Erwan Charpy-trained Nafaqa, who has also run well in the two races contested by Ostaad in the capital.

The second turf contest is an ultra-competitive 1,400-metre handicap for which the maximum field of 16 have been declared. Five are trained by Seemar, with Mullen choosing to ride Ejbaar. Of a Watson duo, Dobbs has opted for Indescribable with Sam Hitchcott to ride Greeb. Both Watson charges are owned by Mohammad Khalifa Al Basti.

GN Selections

Race 1: 1. Barjeel; 2. Mahfooz.

Race 2: 1. Mutahaddith; 2. Almanaara.

Race 3: 1. Thegreatcollection; 2. Galvanize.

Race 4: 1. Doublet; 2, Wasim.

Race 5: 1. Janszoon; 2. Ostaad.

Race 6: 1. Mazeed; 2. Tradesman.

Race 7: 1. Ejbaar; 2. Invincible Spirit.

Day’s Best: Thegreatcollection

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