Racing at Meydan on Saturday, a six-race card sponsored by Al Tayer Motors, features four handicaps all to be contested by horses on the cusp of qualification for the 2020 Dubai World Cup Carnival. To compete at the international showcase, a handicap mark of 90 is required. First post time is 5:30 p.m.
The first of said handicaps, the Lincoln Navigator, is over 1200m on the dirt and has attracted the maximum allowed field of 14. The race is headed by Alkaamel, trained by Musabbeh Al Mheiri and the choice of Jim Crowley from five runners owned by his main employer, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Rated 88, the 4-year-old gelded son of Havana Gold will attempt to concede weight to his 13 rivals on what will be just his second local and dirt outing having finished a close fifth two weeks ago under Crowley over 1400m at Meydan—his first UAE start. Formerly trained in Britain by William Haggas, winning three times on all-weather surfaces, this will be just his second attempt at 1200m.
“We were pleased with that run a fortnight ago,” Crowley said. “These choices are never easy but hopefully I have picked the right one.”
Satish Seemar has no less than five in the race and his main jockey Richie Mullen ops for local debutant R One for Shaikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi. A 4-year-old gelded son of Candy Ride, he won two of his eight starts in his native US, including his most recent, a 1300m allowance race at Louisana Downs in September. Currently rated 75, he is some way off DWC Carnival qualification, whereas his stable companions Lady Parma and Pop The Hood, the latter seemingly the yard’s second string with Tadhg O’Shea booked, are both on 86 and one good run away from obtaining the magic mark of 90.
Lady Parma, picture Dubai Racing Club/Erika Rasmussen
The following 2410m turf handicap, the Al Tayer Motors, has also attracted a maximum field of 14, with the top four in the weights all rated 88 or 89. Still, Godolphin’s Beauvais has to be one of the most interesting runners on the whole card. Trained by Saeed bin Suroor and the mount of Kevin Stott, this homebred 5-year-old entire son of New Approach has only had three starts to date, winning under Stott on his belated debut as a 3-year-old over 2200m at Ripon in May 2018. A month later he and Stott were second over 2400m at Pontefract, but the horse was then off 513 days before his sole 2019 appearance, a third over 2400m on the all-weather at Kempton in November. Rated 82, the very fact such powerful connections have brought him to Dubai looks significant.
Crowley partners Mudaarab for Sheikh Hamdan and Erwan Charpy, while Seemar and Mullen combine with Dolmen, a dominant 2000m winner on the Sharjah dirt when last seen in late December.
In the finale, a 1400m turf handicap, the Lincoln Aviator, Bin Suroor saddles Godolphin’s Ice Cave, the mount of Marc Monaghan. The 4-year-old Shamardal colt has only ever raced on the all-weather in Britain, winning once over 1400m at Kempton in October last year.
Again Crowley had five to choose from for Sheikh Hamdan, this time opting to combine with Erwan Charpy who saddles Moqarrar, a 5-year-old gelded son of Exchange Rate who won once in Britain for Sir Michael Stoute and doubled his career tally on his second UAE outing, landing a 1600m dirt handicap at Meydan on this card last year. Charpy also saddles Pinter, one of four in the maximum field of 14 rated 88 or 89 and thus hoping to get carnival qualified.
Thirteen are set to go to post in the penultimate race, a 2000m dirt handicap, with Recordman, rated 89, seemingly another good chance for Seemar and Mullen. From three Doug Watson runners, Pat Dobbs has sided with Big Brown Bear, always considered a DWC Carnival prospect, with Sam Hitchcott aboard stablemate Illusional and O’Shea picking up a nice spare ride on Tradesman.
The last named is owned by EERC (Emirates Entertainment Racing Club) whose spokesman Justin Byrne said: “We are very hopeful; the horse has been working well, stays well and Tadhg has a good record in our silks. Hopefully, we have a lot in our favour in a competitive race.”
Three-year-olds looking to earn themselves onto the road to the $2.5 million UAE Derby (G2) will be in action in the evening’s second race, a maiden over 1600m. All eyes will be on Seemar-trained Lake Causeway, who closed in smashing fashion on debut last out to just be denied by yard-mate Good Fighter over 1200m. Main rivals appear to be Phoenix Ladies’ Mambo Mischief and Nicholas Bachalard-trained Sadeedd, a half-brother to Diamond Oops.