Dubai: Hot favourite Soft Falling Rain, a former South African juvenile champion, stretched his unbeaten run to six wins with an effortless victory in the UAE 2000 Guineas (G3) at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday.
Trained by Mike de Kock for Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, the winner was eased past the post, two and a quarter lengths clear of the late-finishing Snowboarder with stable companion Zahee, three-quarters of a length back in third.
A son of star sprinter National Assembly, Soft Falling Raing was supplying De Kock with a fifth success in the colt’s Classic,a race he has won in the past with Musir, Honour Devil, Asiatic Boy and Victory Moon.
Winning jockey Paul Hanagan was full of praise for his mount and said: “He’s a horse who has so much speed and the race just played to his strengths. “He was pulling hard early, but when I asked him for his effort he was quick to respond and found another gear to pull clear of his rivals. He handles the Tapeta well and was an effortless winner.”
However, Soft Falling Rain is unlikely to run in the UAE Derby (G1) on Dubai World Cup night with his connections preferring the Godolphin Mile (G1) on the same card before he targets the Golden Jubilee Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot in June.
A big disappointment in the race was Godolphin’s American Triple Crown hope Fortify, who could only finish sixth on his UAE debut for trainer Mahmoud Al Zarouni. On his last start when previously trained by Kiaran McLaughlin in New York, he was a creditable fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile behind Shanghai Bobby.
Meanwhile, Godolphin’s Australian import Mental, a winner of seven out of 12 starts for Peter Snowden, was an eye-catching winner of the Al Shindagha Sprint (G3) for new handler Al Zarouni. The 1200m contest is the lead up race to the $2million Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) on Dubai World Cup night.
The son of Lonhro ended his Australian career by taking the Group 1 Patinack Farm Classic at Flemington in November. Snowden rated Mental as the best horse he has ever trained for Godolphin.
The Group 3 Firebreak Stakes, the third of the Black Type races that highlighted Thursday night’s Dubai World Cup Carnival card, was also won by Al Zarouni with Moonwalk In Paris running out an exciting two-length winner under Emirati jockey Ahmad Ajtebi.