Dubai: Plenty of Dubai Carnival clues were on offer at Meydan racecourse on Thursday night as outsiders and favourites battled for a share of the spotlight at the Al Tayer Motors-sponsored meeting.
Longshots Quite A Show and Layali Al Andalus scored shocks wins to frustrate Pick Six players, before order was restored by a trio of well-fancied contenders led by Abu Dhabi raider Ganas.
Trained by South African handler Ernst Oertel at the Al Asayl Stables, the four-year-old son of Oasis Dream threw down a Carnival pointer when he recorded his third win of the season on the all-weather track.
Ridden with a great deal of confidence by Tadhg O’Shea, retained jockey to the horse’s owner-breeder Shaikh Sultan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President’s Advisor, Ganas flew home in style to win the 1,200m handicap.
Oertel was delighted with the improvement the horse has displayed in such a short span of time and marked him out as a future star.
“He’s a lovely little horse who has been improving all season,” said the handler, who was notching his 12th success of the UAE season. “He’s got so much speed and he quickens very well. He’s gone up a lot of weight since his first win, but that does not seem to bother him.
“Obviously the Carnival is the plan, but for the moment he needs a little break, which I think he fully deserves.”
Earlier in the evening, Quite A Show sprang a surprise to land the feature race, the Group 2 Mazrat Al Ruwayah over 1,600m.
Dane O’Neill delivered a peach of a ride in the colours of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance, to post a half-length victory over last year’s winner AF Alghabra, ridden by O’Shea for Arabian champion trainer Gillian Duffield.
It was a bittersweet victory for trainer Doug Watson, whose stable star Kandar Du Falgas, the Pick Six favourite, finished eighth of nine.
However, Watson said he was not all that surprised with the result. “He’s a Group 1 horse and this was a Group 2 race, so you can’t be too surprised,” he said.
“It’s just that he was giving away so much weight to some nice horses that concerned me. I almost didn’t run him, but he’s a really nice horse with plenty of ability.”
Watson was keen to put Kandar Du Falgas’s performance behind him quickly. “It was a little disappointing — they went pretty fast up front and he never really got a break,” said the former champion trainer. “Probably next time we’ll ride him off the pace a little more.
“There’s nothing wrong with him. He’s ten years old, his legs are not getting any younger, but he’s awfully sound and he’s happy training. You never know as these Arabians sneak up and surprise us sometimes, so he could run a big race in his next start.”
Surfer, trained by Satish Seemar, won a 1,400m conditions race to follow up his previous 1,600m maiden victory, much to the delight of his jockey Richard Mullen, who said: “That was very pleasing, not just the fact that he won but because he was a lot more relaxed this evening.
“He is really growing up and improving with experience and that maiden win helped his confidence no end. We will have to look at the Maktoum Challenge races now and he is going to be better over 1,600m and probably 1,800m.”
Trainer and jockey were completing a double having won the preceding 2,200m handicap with Layali Al Andalus.
Jockey Paul Hanagan continued his great start to the season. He too was in double form, combining twice with champion trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe. Hanagan was seen at his very best when weaving through the field on Maali to win the opening 1,950m maiden, with the four-year-old finally opening his account at the 17th attempt.
Hanagan, Shaikh Hamdan’s retained rider, then had to wait until the last, a 1,400m conditions race, to complete his double on Tamaathul.
A juvenile winner in the UK in 2009, Tamaathul had not won since, but was only caught close to home on his previous start and Hanagan said: “He deserved that win after some very solid efforts in defeat and it is great to ride my first winner for the boss here at Meydan — having ridden my first winner at the track earlier.
“It has been a really good start to my UAE season and I am really looking forward to the Dubai World Cup Carnival.”