Dubai: With Super Saturday out of the way and the prestigious Dubai World Cup card remaining to be played out on March 27, the attention still shifts to Meydan for the domestic season with a six-race Thoroughbred-only dirt card that has attracted an interesting mix of mainly local talents.
Property developers Azizi sponsors the entire card in which the feature is a mile-long Conditions dedicated to Northern Hemisphere bred three-year-olds. Seven go to post in the race titled ‘Mina by Azizi’, with Salem Bin Ghadayer’s Shamardal colt Meshakel rightly the one to beat. Having shed his maiden’s tag over 1400m here by seven lengths, he was then headed on the line by Mouheeb in the Group 3 UAE 2000 Guineas during the recently-concluded Dubai World Cup Carnival.
Dispatched to Riyadh for the Saudi Derby last month, Meshakel found no luck and was a distant 10th of 12 behind winner Pink Kamehameha. However, this drop in class should help him bounce back to winning ways.
But having said that, even though he heads a small field there’s plenty therein that could gatecrash his party. Three oppose Meshakel more than the rest, and these include Ali Rashid Al Rayhi’s Zhou Storm, Fawzi Nass’ Mayehaab and the Doug Watson-schooled Anbar.
Mayehaab debuted with a win, but his performances on being upped in class have left much to be desired from, while Anbar has shown an improvement over his first two career starts, with Watson relishing his chances in the hands of first choice rider Pat Dobbs, who rides him for the first time.
Zhou Storm made a whirlwind start to his career when winning his first two starts by a combined 4.5 lengths, but he doesn’t seem to have brought that form forward into 2021. A third in the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial was followed by a distant fifth place finish in the main event and a seventh on his last start in Conditions company at Jebel Ali. That run-up the stiff Jebel Ali incline, however, could help the Due Diligence colt turn things around on a flatter and kinder Meydan surface.
The evening gets underway with a 1200m maiden, where the in-form pairing of Nass and jockey Adrie De Vries could get Bin Muhaarar to pick a first career success. A 1900m maiden follows that with Watson’s Express Route easily the one to beat - having hit the crossbar twice in his two starts.
Godolphin have the upper hand in the 2000m handicap, with Saeed Bin Surour’s Bright Start perhaps the best of their trio, having shed his maiden status with a 7.75 length success on his UAE debut in January. Bright Start followed that with a narrow 0.75 length second behind the progressive Hypothetical in a DWC Carnival handicap. Book Review for Bin Ghadayer could also feature at the finish, having won two of his five starts this season.
The aforementioned feature is pencilled in as Race 4, with the last two races on the card handicaps over 1600m and 1400m. Desert Peace, trained by Charlie Appleby for Godolphin, appears the main threat in the former with the honours in the latter likely to be contested between Satish Seemar’s Mazagran and Watson’s Double Orb.