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Looks like we’re in for a treat at this year’s Dubai World Cup Carnival

Opening day’s surprises hint at another spectacular three months racing at Meydan

Gulf News

Dubai: If the opening night of the 2013 Dubai World Cup Carnival is any indication of what’s in store over the next few months, then it looks like we are heading into some very exciting times.

Locally based handlers made a big impression winning six of the night’s seven races, leaving Ireland’s Ger Lyons as the lone international winner.

While I expected Saeed Bin Surour to make a typically strong start, I must admit that I was rubbing my eyes in disbelief when Musabah Al Muhairi and Abdullah Bin Huzaim led their winners’ into the parade ring.

Yes, we kind of expected Areem to win the Purebred Arabian version of the Al Maktoum Challenge and did not rule out Barbecue Eddie’s chances in the thoroughbred version, but little did we expect to see Fityaan landing the Longines Dolce Vita sprint given the depth of talent in the race.

We knew that he had the credentials when it came to Jebel Ali Racecourse, where he was runner-up to Russian Rock in the Jebel Ali Sprint last year, but he did not totally look the part in his only previous start on Meydan’s Tapeta track last February where he finished behind Tertio Bloom.

Fityaan clearly liked the newly cut turf track at Meydan, which although might not have been riding as fast as the All-Weather track that produced three track records on the night, was no slouch either.

And what did you make of Le Drakkar winning his first race in 17 starts in a handicap that was packed with talent.

I though Tadhg O’Shea rode a brilliantly timed race aboard the eight-year-old to snatch victory from Hanagan’s Tamaathul on the shadow of the post.

While Le Drakkar might have been a giant party popper for Pick Six players he illustrated just how unpredictable horse racing can be. Which it what makes it such a fun sport.

But perhaps the lasting memory that we all took home was the result of a huge training performance by Doug Watson, who sent out his nine-year-old stable star, Barbecue Eddie, to capture the night’s feature race, the Al Maktoum Challenge.

It amazes me to think that a horse who is fast approaching the twilight of his career can still be physically so fit and up to the task of taking on younger horses and beating them. The way he outran his rivals boast of his training and willingness to race. Clearly this is a horse that is much loved back at his yard, perhaps even more now than when he was a youngster.

A happy horse can do a lot of things and Barbecue Eddie certainly looks capable of extending his amazing unbeaten three-race streak this season.

I wish he does.