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The return of the wizard

Zabeel’s senior citizen Reynaldothewizard can weave spell around Carnival rivals

Gulf News

Dubai: Reynaldothewizard, the gallant 12-year-old gelding who has captured the hearts of racing fans in the UAE, makes his much-anticipated seasonal debut in the upgraded Group 3 Dubawi Stakes at Meydan on Thursday.

Trained by Satish Seemar at his pristine Zabeel Stables, the son of Speightstown faces six rivals including traditional rival, Muarrab, in the 1200-metre contest, which is the first major sprint race of the 2018 Dubai World Cup Carnival.

Often referred to by Seemar as a horse with the mentality and tenacity of a five-year-old, this year will, however, be Reynaldothewizard’s last competitive season according to the Emirates Racing Authority (ERA) rules of compulsory racehorse retirement.

“He’s a year older but you wouldn’t know it,” Seemar said recently. “I feel so proud and blessed that we have been able to keep him going all these years because he just loves his racing.

“He has nothing to prove. He’s won everything we asked of him. He’s had his share of defeats but he just keeps coming back, stronger. He’s a real racehorse. One of a kind. We’re really looking forward to his swansong season.”

Reynaldothewizard made his career debut at a two-year-old for trainer Eoin Harty at Saratoga, New York in 2008. He was subsequently transferred to Dubai where he made a winning debut in a handicap at the spanking new Meydan Racecourse in 2010.

Since then he has posted nine more victories including one at the highest level in 2013 when he stormed to victory in the $2 million Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen on Dubai World Cup night.

Thursday’s race will be the 28th race of a sparkling career and regular rider Richard Mullen said: “He is 12 now and has been an amazing horse for all of us at Zabeel Stables.

“He seems fit and well at home; certainly nobody has told him he is 12.

“He has never been much of a work horse in the mornings, which has probably aided the longevity of his career; he saves it for the track and hopefully, has another big run in him Thursday, but it will not be easy.”

Among his six opponents is 2016 Golden Shaheen winner Muarrab who made a winning seasonal reappearance on his second start for new trainer Ali Rashid Al Rayhi in last month’s Listed Garhoud Sprint over the same 1200-metre on dirt.

The mount of former British champion Jim Crowley, Muarrab chased Reynaldothewizard home in this race both last year and in 2015 having also finished fifth in 2016.

Al Rayhi said: “We were very pleased with that comeback win and it was a good team effort as he had a few issues we had worked on. Hopefully, he is back to something approaching his best, in which case he will run a big race.”

Second in that Garhoud Sprint was Comicas, who was runner-up in last year’s Golden Shaheen for Godolphin and Charlie Appleby.

Appleby commented: “The Golden Shaheen, obviously over the same course and distance, was a career best from Comicas.

“He has definitely come on a lot for his comeback run and, on his best form, he has to be thereabouts on Thursday.”

The Doug Watson-trained My Catch also contested the 2017 Golden Shaheen, when tenth and the reigning champion trainer said: “He was not really himself and misbehaved on the evening of the Garhoud Sprint when he did not really fire.

“He is better than that and seems in great shape at home so, if he breaks well, can hopefully go close.”

Watson also looks to have a strong hand in the UAE 1000 Guineas Trials with Rayya, who will be having only her second career start after demolishing her rival in a fillies’ maiden over this course and distance.

“She is very exciting,” said Watson. “She has done everything asked of her and Thursday is the next step.”

Watson win this race in 2016 with Polar River, who would go on to win both the UAE 1000 Guineas and UAE Oaks the same year.

Godolphin are well represented with Appleby sending out Expressiy and Saeed Bin Surour responsible for the promising duo of Caring Touch and Winter Lightning.

Bin Surour said: “Both my fillies have thrived in Dubai and I expect them to run well.”

Thursday’s card also features five other exciting races.

GN Selections

Race 1; 1. Rayya 1; 2, Winter Lightning.

Race 2: 1. Janszoon; 2. Montsarrat.

Race 3: 1 Mountain Hunter; 2. Kimbear.

Race 4: 1. Team Talk; 2. Leshlaa.

Race 5: 1. Comicas; 2. Reynaldothewizard.

Race 6: 1. Faatinah; 2. Baccarat.

Race 7: 1. Dream Castle; 2. Hornsby.

Day’s Best: Rayya