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Age no barrier for veteran Barbecue Eddie

Nine-year-old beats younger rivals to win Al Maktoum Challenge in Carnival opener

Image Credit: Francois Nel/Gulf News
Barbecue Eddie, ridden by jockey Dane O’Neil, puts a case forexperience over youth by wining the Al Maktoum ChallengeRound 1 sponsered by Longines at Meydan.
Gulf News

Dubai: Veteran campaigner Barbecue Eddie’s thrilling victory in round one of the Al Maktoum Challenge (G2) on the opening night of the 2013 Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan on Thursday provided evidence that, when it comes to class and ability, age is not a barrier.

Competing in a race where all his nine rivals were younger than him, the nine-year-old American-bred horse delivered a master-class in the capable hands of Dane O’Neill to defeat Godolphin’s 5-2 favourite Out Of Bounds and the dead-heating Fulbright and Rutland Boy.

The sight of Barbecue Eddie notching his third win on the bounce at Meydan this season had the connections of rival contenders rubbing their eyes in disbelief.

But not his handler Doug Watson, who has always believed that, despite his years, his stable star was still capable of taking on younger horses and teaching them a thing or two.

“This horse has been a real favourite of ours for a long time so it’s a great result for the whole yard,” said the American-born handler. “He just loves the track [Tapeta] and has also shown his liking for the mile this season.”

Watson indicated that the Godolphin Mile (G1) on Dubai World Cup night would be Barbecue Eddie’s principal long-term target for the season.

“There are nice races for him as we go along and, looking at it today, I would say the Firebreak Stakes [February 14] is a race that we will probably look at next and then Super Saturday prior to the Godolphin Mile,” said the handler.

Barbecue Eddie is owned by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance, who acquired him from the Brewer Racing Stable & Haagsma at the end of 2008. He was then transferred to Watson’s Red Stables, from where he has been trained to win seven of his 18 starts in the UAE.

On a night that saw three track records broken, Godolphin’s Saeed Bin Surour picked up a double as Irish handler Ger Lyons claimed the first international victory at the Carnival when Lily’s Angel bagged the Longines Saint Imier Handicap.

“We were very hopeful and have been aiming here at the Carnival specifically since she showed she handles these all-weather surfaces,” said the jockey-turned-trainer. “She is improving and hopefully can continue to do so. We would like to believe that she can win again here at Meydan.”

Bin Surour, a multiple-champion at the Carnival, first saddled Royal Empire to win a 1,900m handicap and quickly followed it up with a victory in the Al Rashidiya Trial over 1,800m, with the formerly John Oxx-trained Sharestan. Both winners were booted home by Silvestre D’Sousa.

The Emirati handler was delighted to claim a double on the opening night of the Carnival and said: “It’s always nice to have to good start when you return to Dubai. Our horses have been training well so its nice to know that their form is good even if they are not 100 per cent ready.

“Hopefully we can win some nice races with them during the Carnival.”

Earlier, Ahmad Ajtebi made all the running aboard Areem to win the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge for Purebred Arabians. Trained by former endurance champion Majid Al Jahouri, the horse will now be aimed at the third leg of the Al Maktoum Challenge en route to a possible tilt at the Dubai Kahayla Classic on World Cup night.