Dubai: Course records fell like apple blossom in springtime at Meydan on Saturday evening, such was the star quality of the race horses performing at the dress rehearsal for World Cup night.
Four track records were broken — an extraordinary feat in itself — two on the dirt and two on turf.
For me, the race of the races of the night was the Group 2 Dubai City of Gold which entertained us with a fine display of quality riding from Godolphin’s two riders — William Buick and James Doyle.
Both are strong stylish and ooze class in the saddle and out of it. Both are proud ambassadors for ‘Team Godolphin’.
Frontiersman [Doyle] had a dream run round sitting where he wanted to and with every chance from three furlongs out. In total contrast Hawkbill [Buick] had a shocking trip through from his wide draw of eleven, never able to get any cover and getting caught wide.
He drew level with the front rank on the turn into the home straight and from there home, there were only two names in it as Hawkbill and Frontiersman drew away from the rest of the field and fought neck-and-neck to the line with only a head separating them in the photo finish.
We were treated to a show of sportsmanship as Buick and Doyle touched hands after the line in appreciation of each other and a great race by two very formidable adversary’s.
Triumphant jockey Buick said: “It was a great race and the two boys fought out well, it should stand us in great stead for the Sheema Classic on World Cup night.
Proud moments for Charlie Appleby as he celebrated his Super Saturday treble following earlier wins by Jungle Cat and Blair House.
Things did not go as per plan for Saeed Bin Surour this time, but in this beautiful but fickle sport, it may be a very different story that I report after World Cup night.
We exploded into action on Saturday afternoon with a 9.5 furlong Listed race on dirt — The Al Bastakiya.
Godolphin fielded a strong favourite in Masar but it was Satish Seemar who took first blood with his shrewd looking purchase Yulong Warrior [Richie Mullen]. It was a straightforward task completed in exemplary fashion, the winner leading from the start and having a remarkable 11.5 lengths to spare at the finish. The UAE Derby looks at his mercy now and he could then head to Royal Ascot.
Race 2, the Mahab Al Shamaal over furlongs on Dirt, was won in similar fashion with Fawzi Nass’s Jordan Sport who led all the way to not only win by 7.5 lengths but break the 6 furlong track record in 1min 10.18sec
Appleby has his team in outstanding form at the right time and his Jungle Cat took the Nad Al Sheba Sprint, steered tonight by William Buick. It was perhaps a tricky race with the thirteen runner field splitting into two groups and the first four home racing on the stand’s side. It was another solid effort from Jungle Cat even breaking the track record as he flashed across the line in 1min 08.24sec and Buick stated “ That was a good trial for World Cup Night [Al Quoz] an impressive performance, he beat a good field.”
The Group 3 Burj Nahaar produced a great finish with Kimbear [Doug Watson] and Heavy Metal challenging each other for the lead from the start until Kimbear, under a sensible strong ride by Pat Dobbs, gained the upper hand in the final furlong, winning by 1.25 lengths.
The Jebel Hatta was another race in which we witnessed great jockeyship this time by Doyle on Blair House, maybe the lesser fancied of the Appleby duo and against a strong Saeed Bin Surour trio that included the very classy Benbatl.
Round 3 of the Al Maktoum Challenge was the second leg of a fantastic double for Satish Seemar with his North America getting the better of Thunder Snow [Bin Surour].
This race unfolded in familiar dirt race fashion with Richie Mullen getting the winner out on the lead from the get go and having great confidence in this son of Dubawi he set strong fractions to break another track record in 2 min 1.71sec. This could have been even quicker as North America was eased down in the final strides.
Thunder Snow just could not match the pace of the winner, neither could Furia Cruzada [Erwan Charpy] who’s third place was very creditable all the same.
— The author is a former trainer and mother of leading jockeys James and Sophie Doyle.