The opening night of the 2019 Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan featured the 1200m Dubawi Stakes and 1800m Singspiel Stakes—both Group 3 and worth $200,000—with each providing thrilling stretch runs and popular victories. The evening also featured three wide-open, lucrative handicaps on turf and the UAE 1000 Guineas Trial for newly turned 3-year-old fillies.
Recap: DUBAWI STAKES (Group 3, $200,000)
Satish Seemar and Richard Mullen have a formidable record in the 1200m Dubawi Stakes presented by Longines Ladies Master Collection (G3), having won the race four times with UAE sprint legend Reynaldothewizard. They landed a fifth, this time with Raven’s Corner, who bested Doug Watson-trained favourite Drafted by 1¾ lengths.
Sporting the colours of syndicate Touch Gold Racing, who own the 6-year-old gelded son of Raven’s Pass in partnership with Sean Ewing, Raven’s Corner has not always been straightforward in the starting stalls. Unlike his seasonal debut, when fourth in the Garhoud Sprint (Listed) over the same course and distance, he did not miss the break and was always travelling well. Sent to the lead 300m out, having stalked the frantic early gallop of 23.84 seconds for 400m and 47.12 for 800m dictated by My Catch and High on Life, he was never going to be caught by Drafted, who closed fiercely up the rail under Sam Hitchcott after a troubled trip. Already the course record holder for 1400m, he finished up the 1200m in 1:11.68. The son of Raven’s Pass now holds a record of 5-4-1 from 16 starts.
“It’s fantastic,” said Mike Kaye, principal of Touch Gold Racing. “We’ve been knocking on the door. Every time we have run in graded races, we tend to get a wide stall. We thought we had him absolutely perfect today and as good as we’ve ever had him. He travelled like much the best horse. They went super-quick on quite a slow track and he got a little tired at the end, but he’s won quite convincingly. It’s pleasing. We’ll see how he comes out, but the (Group 3) Al Shindagha (Sprint) would be the plan. If we give him a little break, it would be between that and the Dubai Golden Shaheen (on Mar. 30).”
“Exactly what we were saying before the race,” Seemar added. “If everything goes just perfect for him, which it did today, this is who he is. He’s had his problems with this and that, but everything was right for him today. He has proven before by breaking a track record for seven (furlongs last February) that he’s a good horse and today he’s back. He’s going to go step-by-step, but the (Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint) is likely.”
Dubawi Stakes Replay
Mullen said: “A lot of work has gone behind the scenes. He is a horse who has to have things nice and calm; no distractions, no changes. That is why I have not sat on him this year, I just said to the boss, leave Santiago (to ride him); he knows him well. I just jumped on him on race day. It probably helped it was a small field and we were able to load last. You know he is a horse who has a little quirk, it goes from the elusive quality bred into them, but he is extremely talented and we always felt it.
“He is a very fast horse. He does things his own way and he likes to be calm and relaxed. He is ultra-talented, as we saw him there. Drafted is probably the benchmark for our local sprinters and he is a very talented horse and luckily we beat him today. I think they are two of the best sprinters on dirt in the UAE at the moment, and they are going to contest many battles in the months to come.”
Watson, who also trains Group 3 winner My Catch, was pleased with Drafted’s performance. “My Catch; I’m not quite sure what happened with him. Drafted, he’s impressing me every time. He’s in with a shot in every race and horses don’t close like that here. He made up tons of lengths in that last (150m). He’s a proper horse.”
“It was a good run; bad trip. Plain and simple,” Hitchcott added.
“I was forced to go a little quicker than I wanted earlier on,” said Pat Dobbs, who rode My Catch, who was last seen finishing eighth in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1). “But once he got to traveling really sweet, he just got a bit tired up the straight. He will improve for the run.”
Recap: SINGSPIEL STAKES (Group 3, $200,000)
When Grade 1-winning favourite Deauville began to falter in the lane of the Group 3 Singspiel Stakes, the race immediately opened up to any horse with a proper closing kick. Luckily for Godolphin, it had at least five of those prospects and proceeded to sweet the first five spots in the $200,000 affair, led by the Saeed bin Suroor-trained duo of Dream Castle and Racing History. The former, with Christophe Soumillon aboard, won by a clear 1½ lengths in a time of 1:49.40 for the 1800m course and distance prep for the $6 million Dubai Turf sponsored by DP World (G1) on Dubai World Cup night (Mar. 30). Another from the Bin Suroor yard, Team Talk finished fourth, while Charlie Appleby-conditioned Salsabeel and Bay of Poets finished third and fifth. The highest regarded of the Godolphin sextet, Appleby-trained Key Victory, failed to factor and finished 12th of the 16.
Singspiel Stakes Replay
A homebred 5-year-old son of Frankel, Dream Castle had been gelded since last seen in public and was actually winning for the first time since making a successful debut as a 3yo at Doncaster in April 2017, after which he was fifth in the 2000 Guineas (G1). On what was his 11th career start, he travelled powerfully in the middle of the field before being unleashed by Soumillon with the pair sprinting clear with just over 200m to run, completing doubles for ‘Team Thunder Snow.’
“Yes I talked with Pat Cosgrave a lot before the race because he knows the horse better than any other jockey,” Soumillon said. “He told me the horse has changed a lot this year and was much more settled in the morning track-work. I could feel it straight when I was going down the start, and he was really settling down and just inside the gate he was a bit stressed. I was happy everybody went in quickly, because he was close to jumping somewhere in there. When the gates opened, he was settling down very easily. I got a perfect race just behind the lead and I came a bit wide and we didn’t go very fast, so I had to ask him to quicken quite well by himself in the middle of the track. He gave me a very good effort. The big race for him now will probably be the (Dubai) Turf over the same distance. I am sure he can run between seven furlongs (1400m) and 1800m, without a problem. It just depends on the pace.”
“He got a really soft time up front and ran to suit himself,” said Luke Morris, who rode Deauville to an 11th-place finish for new trainer Fawzi Nass (previously trained by Aidan O’Brien). “He didn’t run since September, so he needed the run.”
Remainder of Card
Earlier, the very first race of the 2019 carnival, a 2410m turf handicap (Longines Gents Record Collection) was won impressively by Godolphin’s Saeed bin Suroor-trained Bin Battuta who settled well behind the leaders under Christophe Soumillon before shooting clear 300m out, while being chased home by the same owner’s Ispolini, trained by Charlie Appleby. Off the track for 495 days, the 5-year-old Dubawi horse had last been seen when finishing second in the 2800m Melrose Handicap at the prestigious Yorkshire Ebor meeting in August 2017. This was his fourth career victory on his ninth outing and he has now won over 1200m, 2000m and twice at 2400m.
Bin Suroor said: “That was a very good and pleasing performance and we were quite hopeful because he had been working well after his break. We will stick to handicap company for now, but we think he is a Group horse and we will step him up in grade at some stage. He stays further than this and he could, possibly, be a Dubai Gold Cup horse.”
Won in each of the last three tears for His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum by the sadly deceased Ertijaal, the Longines Ladies Record Collection, a 1000m turf handicap, was again won by the owner with Australian-trained Faatinah, running on strongly to deny Irish-trained Hit the Bid. Trained by David Hayes, he was ridden by his owner’s retained jockey Jim Crowley.
A delighted assistant trainer, Ben Hayes, said: “As he has aged, he seems to have become quicker and we were keen to run him over 1000m, as he had perhaps not always been seeing out the 1200m. He is my favourite horse in the yard and we will now have to think about how to campaign him. He runs well fresh as we know so that might be the plan; to give him plenty of time between runs, with the Al Quoz Sprint the final target on the Dubai World Cup card.”
Over 1400m on the dirt track, the UAE 1000 Guineas Trial presented by Longines La Grande Classique produced an unlikely, yet dominant winner in the shape of Al Hayette, who finished fast to win her second race in 14 days over the Meydan dirt, having broken her maiden over 1600m on Dec. 20. The daughter of Union Rags is bred beautifully for the surface, being out of a Hennessy mare, and is owned and trained by Ismail Mohammed, who said: “We were worried about dropping her back to 1400m, as she showed last time she is better over 1600m. In the future, she will stay further. Obviously we will go for the UAE 1000 Guineas next and perhaps the UAE Oaks later on. She is a nice filly and will appreciate the extra 200m in the UAE 1000 Guineas. We always had Dubai in mind for her but she ran well on her three starts in the UK and has continued to improve since arriving here.”
A treble for Godolphin, Bin Suroor and Soumillon appeared likely when Top Score hit the front about 350m from home in the concluding Longines Master Collection Moon Phase, a 1400m turf handicap, but they had no answer to the late challenge of Another Batt, a first UAE runner for young trainer George Scott, who is based in Newmarket, UK. Ridden by Connor Beasley, the 4-year-old gelded son of Windsor Knot is owned by Excel Racing, whose members include Southampton footballer Charlie Austin
Scott said: “That was a nice surprise, really, but he is a very smart horse and one we have always had high hopes for. We thought he was fit enough to do himself justice but we were probably hopeful of a place, rather than expecting to win.”