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Dubai Golden Shaheen in sights of UAE trainers

Reynaldothewizard and United Color face strong test in $2 million sprint

Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News
Gulf News

Dubai: The last time that a locally trained horse won the $2 million (Dh7.34 million) Dubai Golden Shaheen was ten years ago, but Dubai sprint stars Reynaldothewizard and United Colour are hoping to set the record straight when they contest next weekend’s renewal of the prestigious contest.

State City gave his trainer Paddy Rudkin one of the biggest wins of his career in 2003 by storming home to beat Avanzado by a quarter of a length. No UAE-based horse has been able to repeat the feat since then in a contest that has been dominated by American speedballs, who have won seven of the last nine runnings of the race.

The Golden Shaheen was first run on dirt at Nad Al Sheba racecourse before switching to the all-weather track at Meydan in 2010.

Both Reynaldothewizard, who is trained at the in-form Zabeel Stables by Satish Seemar, and United Color, a new acquisition to Dhruba Selvaratnam’s Jebel Ali Stables, will be looking to carry strong local form into the March 30 sprint.

They are likely to face top sprinters like Godolphin’s Al Shidagha Sprint (G3) winner Mental, Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) sensation Starspangledbanner and 2011 July Stakes (G1) winner Frederick Engels.

Reynaldothewizard was particularly impressive when winning the 1,200m Mahab Al Shimal (G3), a recognised prep for the Golden Shaheen, by four lengths from last year’s big sprint winner Krypton Factor.

A seven-year-old son of Speightstown the Zabeel Racing-owned gelding has impressed his trainer no end having rolled back the years to his best form of two seasons ago when he posted back-to-back wins during the Dubai World Cup Carnival.

Those performances will be a big boost to the confidence of Seemar, a veteran of over two decades in the UAE, who has enjoyed a fairy-tale season saddling 30 winners.

“He’s in great form and Richard Mullen did a great job to put the horse in the right place at the right time,” Seemar said after Reynaldothewizard won the Mahab Al Shimal.

“We knew he had the ability and he seems to like the Tapeta. This was his fifth win on the surface.”

Reynaldothewizard, who was bred in Kentucky by Gibraltar Group and purchased at the Fasig-Tipton Select Two-year-olds-in-training sale, was previously trained in America by Eoin Harty.

United Color is Selvaratnam’s big hope of reprising the two victories that Ramp And Rave and Mudallel posted in 1998 and 1999 respectively.

The ex-Italian horse was the smart winner of a competitive handicap at Meydan last month and has reportedly been pleasing his boss during morning track.

With Selvaratnam’s retained rider James Doyle set to miss the Dubai World Cup meeting due to a ban, the veteran handler has secured the services of Jimmy Fortune.

The handler also has plans to take United Color to Meydan for a blow-out sometime this week.

“We’ve been keeping it simple back home, just to keep him sharp,” said Selvaratnam. “We’ll take him to Meydan for his last piece of fast work before the race.

“He doesn’t need to do much, he’s in good shape and runs well when fresh. “

Selvaratnam believes United Color is as good a sprinter as Ramp And Rave, one of three horses that he prepared to win the Dubai Golden Shaheen. The others were Mudallel (1998) and Satank (1993). He rates Godolphin’s Mental and Krypton Factor as the main threats, together with Reynaldothewizard. “The Golden Shaheen strikes me as being a high-quality contest. We just have to wait and see just how good United Color is on the big stage.”