Meydan Pre-Carnival Notes: Wednesday 27 December 2017
• Ageless Heavy Metal Could Shine Brighter
• Navarro Eyes Dubai with Multiple Horses
• Long River and Frankyfourfingers Ready for Returns
AGELESS HEAVY METAL COULD SHINE BRIGHTER
When warrior racehorse and local favourite Heavy Metal commanded a salty renewal of the Dubai Creek Mile (Listed) from start-to-finish on Dec. 21 at Meydan, ultimately winning comfortably by 4½ lengths under Royston Ffrench, his success was not quite a surprise. That being said, the way in which he did so was not exactly expected, either, as son of Exceed and Excel took his sire’s name literally and manhandled his opposition.
Facing the likes of last season’s Al Bastakiya (Listed) winner Cosmo Charlie – the international favourite – and multiple Grade I winner Wild Dude, the Salem bin Ghadayer-trained and His Excellency Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum-owned charge took the race immediately to the former, out-willing said speedster to the front. Easing his way into the turn with a clear advantage in both placement and general momentum, he then spurted away turning for home and eased up under the line without a doubt to his superiority.
“I’m so pleased with him, especially after the race,” bin Ghadayer said. “The main thing is his form. He was maybe 80% for the race. He came back very good and very sound. I’m very pleased.
“I went into this race preparing him Maktoum Challenge Round 1 (G2, on Jan. 11 at Meydan) and I am confident to say he won easily. I’m very happy with that,” bin Ghadayer continued. “If you remember last year, he needed three races to be in his 100% form. If you ask me who the best miler in UAE is, I think Heavy Metal is in the top three. I know many horses will come in from around the world, but he really came back to his training and has a very strong heart. We just needed a little luck. He might be (better than last year).”
Heavy Metal won for the 12th time in 54 starts and returned to the form that saw him win last March’s Burj Nahaar Sponsored by Emirates Holidays (G3) over this same Meydan 1600m trip. It was his fifth victory with his current conditioner from 18 starts in the UAE.
Previously, the English-bred was with Mark Johnston in the United Kingdom for his first 36 tries, including a 2-year-old season in which he was regarded highly enough to race in six consecutive Group events. His best efforts were a victory in the 2012 Richmond Stakes (G2) at Goodwood and a second in the Gimcrack Stakes (G2) at York.
Heavy Metal spent a pair of seasons (2013 and 2014) in England’s handicap ranks before bin Ghadayer took over training duties, switched him to the dirt and assisted him in becoming the fan favorite he is today over the last three seasons.
Heavy Metal defeats stablemate Frankyfourfingers in last Carnival’s ADCOP Handicap, picture DRC/Andrew Watkins
NAVARRO EYES DUBAI WITH MULTIPLE HORSES
South Florida-based trainer Jorge Navarro has had a taste of Dubai over the last two Dubai World Cup cards and apparently wants more, according to reports from his Gulfstream Park base. The accomplished conditioner confirmed that his star sprinter X Y Jet, second in the 2016 Dubai Golden Shaheen Presented by Golf News (G1) as the heavy favourite, has a return date in the race that barely eluded him two years prior.
Owned by Rockingham Ranch and Gelfenstein Farm, X Y Jet returned from a 13-month layoff in last weekend’s Mr. Prospector Stakes (G3) at said Hallandale Beach, Florida, racecourse and led gate-to-wire in sharp fashion. The effort was only his third since Dubai and first since returning from injury.
Navarro reported to the Gulfstream Park media team that the son of Kantharos will likely have one more race before heading this way.
“I think there is a Florida-bred race (Jan. 20 Sunshine Millions Sprint). If I can get a month in between, you’ll see him (at Gulfstream) on more time (before the Dubai Golden Shaheen),” he said.
Navarro also has a pair of possible Dubai World Cup night runners pointing toward the US$16-million Pegasus World Cup (G1) at Gulfstream in Loooch Racing Stables and partner’s War Story – fourth last out in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) – and Dubai-acquainted Sharp Azteca, the beaten favourite when a perplexing third in last season’s Godolphin Mile (G2).
While Navarro has not committed travel-friendly War Story to any plan of action after the Pegasus, he has mentioned via twitter that Sharp Azteca is aiming toward a return to Dubai for redemption.
“Both (X Y Jet and Sharp Azteca) could run at (Meydan) on March 31,” he stated.
Owned by Ivan Rodriguez (principal of Gelfenstein Farm), the son of Freud exits a one-sided victory in the prestigious Cigar Mile (G1) at Aqueduct in New York earlier this month. His Pegasus effort – stretching out in to the 1800m – will likely determine if his Dubai date is one of counterblow (Godolphin Mile) or conquest (Dubai World Cup).
LONG RIVER AND FRANKYFOURFINGERS READY FOR RETURNS
Accomplished young conditioner Salem bin Ghadayer has indicated that regally bred star pupil Long River is ready for his resurfacing at the upcoming 2018 Carnival at Meydan Racecourse. The His Excellency Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum-owned son of Breeders’ Cup champions A. P. Indy and Round Pond has not raced since finishing off the board in Arrogate’s Dubai World Cup (G1), but has trained well for his connections leading up to what will be his 8-year-old bow.
“He’s so good right now,” bin Ghadayer said. “He needs a little special training, but he is training very well right now. He’s a high-rated horse, so there aren’t many options for him. You can’t run him in a handicap race.
“He’s, in my mind, doing as well as he was (this time last year),” bin Ghadayer continued. “He is in the (US$250,000) Al Maktoum Challenge (Round 1, G2) right now. We will see.”
Winner of the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 (G1) last season, the former Kiaran McLaughlin trainee and multi-continental stakes winner has five victories from 26 starts and has competed in two of the previous three Dubai World Cups.
If Long River stays in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 (G2), on Jan. 11, a race in which he finished second last year to Le Bernardin, he may be joined by a pair of stablemates.
Fellow 2010-born battler Heavy Metal proved his mettle, as well as his trainer’s prowess with returning a veteran off the bench, easily winning last week’s Dubai Creek Mile (Listed). Another possible joiner is come-backing Frankyfourfingers, who returns from an 11-month layoff in Friday’s AED 110,000 Jebel Ali Mile Prep over said course and 1600m distance. He was last seen finishing a game second to Heavy Metal in January’s ADCOP Handicap.
“He still has the form,” bin Ghadayer said. “We need to think about that race. After Jebel Ali, we will decide. He has had all of his races at Meydan, so I do not know if (the layout of) Jebel Ali will suit him. The long straight may not suit him, but he’s shown me he is in good form right now (in his training).”
The son of Sunday Break is looking for his first victory since taking the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 (G2) in February 2015.