Salute The Soldier wins
Salute The Soldier wins Image Credit: Vidrendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Salute The Soldier putin the performance of a lifetime. He has thrown his name in the mix as one of the top prospects to land the Group 1 Dubai World Cup in three weeks’ time with a stunning gate to post victory over course and distance in the prep the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3, the feature event of the Super Saturday card at Meydan.

The six-year-old Sepoy gelding did nothing wrong under Adrie de Vries, who got him to win the early battle for the lead with Salem bin Ghadayer’s Tailor’s Row and Satish Seemar’s Roman Rosso. By the turn to the back stretch, Salute The Soldier was well in command and comfortably turned for home with De Vries riding him 400m out from where he stretched nicely to win by 1.75 lengths from Bin Ghadayer’s fast closing Hypothetical, who was a further three ahead of Roman Rosso with Antonio Fresu up.

An ecstatic De Vries said: “I expected the pace to come from the outside. He jumped well, but the guys next to me, they didn’t want it, so I was happy to lead. I went at my own pace. I don’t know what to say, he’s just getting better, this horse. It is so much fun.

“He deserves it. He’s a great character. As you see, there is always something special about him. He didn’t want to go to the start today, you have to trick him sometimes. Last year, he was a handful getting on in the parade ring. Now, we settle him in the box and I get straight on him, bring him down with a pony. Next time, we have to make a different plan again.”

Winning trainer Nass added: “When you have a horse like that, who has already qualified for the World Cup, why take a risk of getting beat. But then, thinking about it, it is quite a long gap from his last win to World Cup night. He’s a horse that is full of enthusiasm, so we thought why not?”

Bin Ghadayer missed out, but was on target in the card opener with Panadol, who made it two in two when winning the Listed Al Bastakiya, the course and distance equivalent of the Group 2 UAE Derby. Ridden by Mickael Barzalona, the 3yo Flatter colt made all to win with 0.75l to spare from Doug Watson’s Pat Dobbs ridden Speight’spercomete, with El Patriota a further 2.5l back for Antonio Cintra Pereira and Vagner Leal.

Godolphin enjoyed a double success on the night with Saeed Bin Surour delivering success in the Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Turf over 1200m with Final Song, who won the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint equivalent under Frankie Dettori, by a head from the Watson-trained and Dobbs-ridden Motafaawit, who finished impressively. Acklam Express was a further 2.5l back in third for Nigel Tinkler under Rowan Scott.

Godolphin opened their account in the Group 2 Dubai City of Gold, which was won by trainer Charlie Appleby for the fourth consecutive time. Appleby won the race with Hawkbill (2018), Old Persian (2019) and Loxley (2020), with Walton Street delivering Saturday in record equalling time of 2:26.83 set by him en route to his Dubai Racing Club Classic (Listed) success in January.

Taken forward without much fuss by William Buick, a two-time winner with Hawkbill and Old Persian, the 7yo Cape Cross gelding kicked clear just before turning for home and won by five from teammate Dubai Future trained by Bin Suroor and ridden by Pat Cosgrave. Ismail Mohammed’s Fresu piloted Away He Goes was a further 0.5l back in third.

Watson and Dobbs claimed a quick double, winning two Group 3 affairs: the 1200m Mahab Al Shimaal and 1600m Burj Nahaar with Canvassed and Midnight Sands, who booked their spots in the course and distance Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen and Group 2 Godolphin Mile respectively.

The race of the night was perhaps the Group 1 Jebel Hatta over 1800m and witnessed David O’Meara’s Lord Glitters accelerate late down the middle and win by 0.5l from Ali Rashid Al Rayhi’s Eqtiraan with Jim Crowley up. Al Suhail was a short head back in third for Appleby and Buick. It was a second career Group 1 success for the O’Meara trainee, winner of the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2019, and a second win in three runs this winter in Dubai after his success in the Group 2 Singspiel Stakes over course and distance in January. Lord Glitters will be one of the favourites in the running for this year’s Group 1 Dubai Turf, a race in which he placed third in 2019 behind Almond Eye.