Dubai: As the curtain goes up on the Dubai Racing Club’s 2021-2022 racing season at Meydan Racecourse today, there are no less than five exciting horses to look forward to.
The DRC will stage a plethora of high-quality race meetings over the next five months but the opener, which is topped with the new Graduate Stakes Sponsored by Emirates Airline, will aim to set the marker for the rest of the season.
Needless to say, the Graduate Series will enrich the racing calendar and it’s safe to assume that the future stars of the sport will emerge from here.
So, let’s look at some of the horses to follow today at Meydan...
1. Verboten - Graduate Stakes Sponsored by Emirates Airline
Post time: 9 pm. Race type: Conditions. Distance 1400M Dirt. Purse Dhs 100,000
The fifth race on a stacked seven-event card is the Graduate Stakes which should be won by Verboten, a four-year-old son of No Nay Never who showed promise in two starts last season where he took on stronger rivals.
Trained by Doug Watson, who appears to have his string in fine order having won five races during the opening week, Verboten takes on some modest opposition.
Melicertes races out of Satish Seemar’s Zabeel Stables and is picked to pose the main threat together with Beverley Deutrom-trained Scots Pine.
Creek Horizon and Flamewood complete the field.
GN Selections: 1. Verboten. 2. Melicertes.
2. Al Maroom - Arabian Adventures Maiden Stakes
Post time: 7 pm. Race type: Maiden 3-year-old. Distance: 1,400m Dirt. Purse: Dh 82,500
Former champion handler Satish Seemar has over 120 horses under his care this season so its not surprising to see that he supplies three runners out of a field of eight on the opening race of the season.
Although Future Vision, an ex-Godolphin trainee makes his highly-anticipated debut for Seemar it is the handler’s Al Maroom who appeals to me having already had a taste of the Meydan track where he delivered some decent performances in four starts.
Line of Attack completes the trainer’s trio of hopefuls in what looks like a wide-open contest..
Emirati handles sends out an interesting runner in Atlantic Sky, a horse who was previously raced by Doug Watson.
GN Selections: 1. Al Maroom. 2. Future Vision.
3 - Sanad Libya - Emirates Airline Condition Stakes
Post time: 8.30 pm. Race type: Rated Conditions. Distance: 2000 m. Purse: Dhs 95,000
Satish Seemar (pictured) looks to have a strong hand in this race with Sanad Libya the one to beat on past Meydan form. Albeit that win came in December 2020 Sanad Libya showed his liking for the dirt where he produced some decent efforts including a fourth-place finish in the Jebel Ali Stakes at Jebel Ali Racecourse.
A strapping son of American sire Tapiture, he is taken to win from veteran Grand Argentier and Al Qaqaa.
Most of the contenders in this contest go well fresh and it will be interesting to see how Sanad Libya shapes first up for Seemar and new stable jockey Tadhg O’Shea.
GN Selections: Sanad Libya. 2. Grand Argentier.
4. Celtic Striker (Emirates.com Handicap)
Post time: 9.30m Race type: Handicap. Distance: 1600m Purse: Dhs 95,000
This is by far the most wide-open race on the card although it would appear that former American galloper Celtic Striker has the credentials to win this.
Trained by Doug Watson for the Russian Racing Syndicate Celtic Striker has posted wins at Monmouth and Belmont Park and should go well on the Meydan dirt. An experienced campaigner who has also raced at Churchill Downs and Saratoga, he, however, faces some capable opposition led by Meydan scorer Alkaamel and stable companion Double Orb.
Miller’s Mouse appears to have an each-way chance as does Major Champion (pictured), but it’s hard not to see Celtic Striker using his superior dirt experience to win on his UAE debut.
GN Selections: 1. Celtic Swing. 2. Alkaamel.
5. Endifaa – Emirates Skywards Maiden
Post time: 10pm. Race type: Maiden. Distance: 1,600m. Purse: Dh 82,500
Last but not least is a mile which should go to the classy Endifaa who was consistent if not lucky performer at last season’s Dubai World Cup Carnival where he even ambitiously contested the Al Bastakiya and finished a respectable fifth to Panadol.
Bahraini’s trainer has some exciting horses in his yard for the new season and Endifaa can be one of them if he puts in a good effort in the capable hands of the Flying Dutchman, Adrie de Vries.
However, anything can happen during early season races and if so the well-named Zero To A Hundred (pictured) can make his presence felt for the Satish Seemar-Tadhg O’Shea partnership.
GN Selections: 1. Endifaa. 2. Zero To A Hundred.