Super Saturday at Meydan at the weekend staged eight races over the same conditions of contests on the $30.5 million Dubai World Cup card at the end of the month, as the final preparations for the world’s richest race night are put in place.
The dress rehearsal for the biggest event on the UAE racing calendar also allowed a handful of runners to serve notice on their intentions next time out at Meydan.
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Super Saturday was highlighted by the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 over the same 2,000m and dirt surface as the Dubai World Cup itself and it was won in determined fashion by Hypothetical.
Riding for Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum and Salem bin Ghadayer, Mickael Barzalona pushed to the front and eased away from Tadhg O’Shea and Remorse.
The five-year-old, who was runner-up in the Al Maktoum Challenge R3 last year, was clocking a fourth Meydan dirt victory and is now looking in good shape to contend in the big one on March 26 at the same venue.
“We thought he would run well today if we could be positive from that wide draw without having to go too fast and it all went perfectly,” said Barzalona, who won the Dubai World Cup aboard Monterosso 10 years ago. “He has really travelled well throughout, quickened stylishly and stayed on nicely to record another big Meydan win.”
The turf highlight, the 1,800m Group 1 Jebel Hatta, was won by Alfareeq under Dane O’Neill, and is well fancied in the Dubai Turf on World Cup night.
“He behaved himself in the stalls and broke well which meant I was able to get him in the position I wanted from the start,” O’Neill said. “The key is to relax him and use that turn of foot because he can quicken which is always a massive asset in these races.”
The Group 2 Dubai City Of Gold also produced an early DWC favourite as Hukum edged out Without A Fight, with the Sheema Classic next in their sights.
Crowley said: “We were drawn 14 but I was able to get a nice position but probably had to challenge sooner than ideal but he will have needed that and this was basically a prep for three weeks and the Sheema Classic.”
Godolphin’s Man Of Promise was unstoppable in the Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint under William Buick for Charlie Appleby ahead of the Al Quoz Sprint.
Buick said: “That was very impressive and it is nice to see him actually prove himself at this level because he has threatened to in the past but today he really delivered.”