Walking Thunder, ridden by Connor Beasley and trained by Ahmad Bin Harmash, wins the Emirates Holidays Maiden, the first race of the 2018-19 season at Meydan on Thursday. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Phoenix Ladies Syndicate, an all-women partnership managed by new powerhouse stable Phoenix Thoroughbreds, got off to a dream start when they landed their first winner — from their very first starter — at Meydan Racecourse’s inaugural meeting of the 2018-2019 season.

An initiative aimed at boosting the participation of women in UAE flat racing, the syndicate watched Walking Thunder romp home in effortless fashion to land the Emirates Holidays Maiden over seven furlongs on dirt.

Ridden by Connor Beasley, retained rider to Ahmad Bin Harmash, the Kentucky-bred two-year-old looked a cut above his four rivals in the juvenile contest crossing the line five-and-a-half lengths clear of Takhteer, the mount of Royston Ffrench.

Every Single Day, a highly regarded filly who won a five-furlong trial at Meydan last month, was sent off as the big favourite, but she trailed in seven-and-a-half lengths back in third under Pat Dobbs.

The race presented trainers and owners of the five two-year-olds in the contest with a chance to size up their youngsters before pitching them into battle against bigger guns later in the season.

Phoenix Ladies Syndicate is the offshoot of Phoenix Thoroughbreds boss Amer Abdul Aziz, who has rapidly been making a name for his enterprise with some astute purchases at the world’s leading yearling sales and through his stables in the UAE, United States, Europe and Australia.

“We always felt that the racing community in the UAE could do with a lot more lady owners and that’s how the syndicate came about,” Abdul Aziz said last week.

“It’s also a fun way to own and race horses. It just takes a bunch of like-minded ladies to get together and create a club through which they can own horses and, hopefully, win some races.

“This particular syndicate owns about 10 horses, one of which Walking Thunder, looks a nice prospect.”

The Meydan winner is by leading freshman sire Violene, a Grade 1 winner at two by Medaglia d’Oro.

Meydan’s opening card, which featured six other races, was sponsored end-to-end by its Pillar Partner, Emirates airline.

A large crowd was in attendance to witness the first of 29 race meetings that will be held at the iconic racecourse during this season, which promises to be one of the best in Meydan’s history since it opened its doors in 2000.

Racing also continues to flourish at Meydan, the sport’s headquarters in the UAE and home to the Dubai World Cup meeting each March, with a 9 per cent overall increase in purses.

Prize money has been boosted by Dh15,000 per race, with maiden races now worth Dh165,000 and conditioned allowances up to Dh240,000.

Overall, the average purse total for the 12 domestic meetings of Racing at Meydan is Dh1.285 million per day.

All meetings will be comprised of seven races.