Racing returned to Meydan Racecourse, for the first time since March and Dubai World Cup day, and the featured 2000m Emirates Airline Handicap was won in determined fashion by Trinity Force.
Trinity Force (IRE ) ( Ali Rashid Al Rayhi – Tadhg O’ Shea ) wins the Emirates Airline Handicap, photo Dubai Racing Club/Andrew Watkins
Champion Trainer, Doug Watson, saddled six of the 14 runners and it was one of them, Mizbah, who won a frantic early battle for the lead under Pat Dobbs and turning for home they had the vast majority of their rivals in trouble.
However, Tadhg O’Shea was edging closer aboard Trinity Force, trained by Ali Rashid Al Rayhi throughout the duration of the straight.
At the 100m pole they drew level, with Mizbah fighting back but, finally passed with 50m to run, though comfortably holding on for second from his stable companions, Grand Argentier and Jeeraan.
“I was pretty confident coming into the race with our nice low weight,” explained O’Shea. “We knew there was going to be a fast gallop and that suits this horse so from our low draw, I was in the ideal position to stalk the speed.
“I won on Mizbah last season so knew he would be tough to pass but we managed to in the end.”
Godolphin and Saeed bin Suroor got off the mark for their campaign, landing the 1600m Emirates A380 Handicap with Naaeebb, who was completing a quick double for jockey Pat Cosgrave.
Having only his fourth start and previously a maiden, the three-year-old made stealthy progress from midfield on the home turn before hitting the front early in the straight.
He never really looked in any danger afterwards, running on gamely and Cosgrave said: “We had a bad draw but he was always going well and took me into the race effortlessly.
“Remember, he is only three and having his first start on dirt, taking on some seasoned performers. I thought I was going to win easily but he did not really know what to do.
“He has won now and is a horse for the future; he is only going to improve with racing and experience."
Being drawn widest of all in stall 14, was not enough to prevent Rothenburg making a winning debut in the previous race, the Emirates Holidays 1400m maiden, initiating Cosgrave’s double.
Trained by Helal Al Alawi, he was given a patient ride by the jockey who was never far off the pace before asking his mount to challenge in the straight.
Meanwhile, Fernando Jara had set sail for home on Loures, who had led from the outset but had no response in the final 50m when Cosgrave and Rothenburg, who had remained wide throughout, gained the initiative.
“He excited us from the moment we bought him,” enthused Al Alawi. “We were very confident he would run well, despite the draw and, as you saw, he was very green and remains a big baby.
“Hopefully, with that experience under his belt, he will improve and we think he is a nice horse.”
The emirates.com, a 1200m handicap, looked competitive on paper but, once Sam Hitchcott kicked Almanaara clear departing the home bend they were never in any danger of defeat.
Probably never headed, the four-year-old, saddled by Doug Watson, was having just his second start in the UAE and first at Meydan.
Representing, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, in whose silks he races, Richard Hills, formerly the owner’s retained jockey, said: “He has improved physically over the summer and won that well tonight. It was a very good performance and he is a nice horse.”
The first race of the Meydan campaign, the 1200m Arabian Adventures maiden, was won stylishly by Circle Dream, like all 10 runners, making his racecourse debut.
Sporting the silks of owner Nasir Askar, he was soon at the head of affairs under Antonio Fresu and, turning for home, only J B Space and Skyrider appeared in a position to challenge but Fresu kicked for home with about 300m to run, effectively ending the race as a contest.
The pair ran on strongly, providing trainer Satish Seemar with his first victory of the new season.
Fresu said: “We were able to get to the front and I was always happy with him. He quickened and ran all the way to the line to win nicely.
“It was a very good debut and he seems a nice young horse who can improve.”
Having provided first and second in the very first race of the campaign, at Jebel Ali last Friday, Salem bin Ghadayer repeated the trick in the Emirates SkyCargo, a 1400m handicap.
And again, it was Xavier Ziani on the winner, Pit Stop, denying Royston Ffrench who looked to have stolen the race when shooting clear at the top of the straight aboard Pirate’s Cove.
However, a healthy lead 200m out did not prove sufficient and, with Ffrench’s mount visibly tiring, Ziani rousted his and they swept past the stable companion close home to the delight of his jockey.
“He was very relaxed in behind and showed a great turn of foot,” said Ziani. “With 200m I did not think I could win but Royston’s horse has tired and mine finished very well.”
The meeting concluded with the Emirates Skywards, a second 1600m handicap on the card and won by Galvanise, giving trainer Doug Watson a double for the night.
All seven races were contested on the Meydan dirt surface.