Racing at Meydan on Saturday, a seven-race card with a first race time of 5:30 p.m., includes five handicaps to be contested by horses whose connections hope they can advertise claims for the 2021 Dubai World Cup Carnival.
In light of the on-going global health implications of the coronavirus and precautionary measures being implemented by the UAE government, Dubai Racing Club will be running the Super Saturday race meeting without paid hospitality spectators on March 7 at Meydan Racecourse.
Mutaraffa, with an official handicap rating of 91, is leading the way and heading the weights in the Mina, a 1200m dirt handicap. To be saddled by Musabbeh Al Mheiri for HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum and the mount of the owner’s retained jockey, Jim Crowley, the 4-year-old Acclamation gelding will be making his dirt debut on just his second local outing. Thrice a winner in Britain for Charlie Hills, twice over 1400m, once over 1500m, he seemingly found 1000m on the Meydan turf too much of a speed test when failing to beat a rival on his local debut.
Fawzi Nass both owns and trains local and dirt debutant Madkhal, making his first start since leaving Godolphin having won once over 1200m on the all-weather at Wolverhampton for Saeed bin Suroor.
Brett Doyle rides and said: “It looks a nice spare ride for a trainer whose horses have been running well on the whole. Hopefully the switch to dirt will suit him.”
The surface is not a query for Lytham St Annes, drawn widest of all in stall eight, and already a dual course and distance winner in the colours of Mohd Khalifa Al Basti. Sam Hitchcott is in the saddle for Doug Watson.
“He ran well when third at Jebel Ali last week and came out of the race well,” Watson said. “He was drawn 10 of 10 when he won over course and distance first time, so hopefully stall eight is not too big a negative.”
Connor Beasley partners the other course and distance winner in the field, Lady Parma, trained by Satish Seemar as is Pilgrim’s Treasure, a 1400m Jebel Ali winner on his latest start and a Meydan dirt winner, also over 1400m, in March 2018. He appears the choice of Tadhg O’Shea, in the saddle for that Jebel Ali victory three weeks ago.
Watson a Major Contender
However Lytham St Annes fares, Watson appears to hold a leading chance in the 1900m dirt handicap, the Mirage, with top weight Illusional, twice a winner for the yard after five local outings. His most recent appearance was a winning one, over 2000m on the Meydan dirt surface, six weeks ago.
He has a rating of 89, just below the 90 required for the carnival. Of Sam Hitchcott’s mount, Watson said: “He has had a nice break since his most recent win and seems in good form at home. Obviously, he has to concede weight in a tough looking race, but we are hoping for a good run.”
For Al Mheiri and Nasir Askar, Casey Jones was a pleasing third on his local debut, over 1400m at Jebel Ali, three weeks ago. A 2000m winner in Britain for John Gosden this step up in trip should suit him and he looks a big threat under Antonio Fresu.
The enigmatic Gundogdu has a wide draw to overcome under Royston Ffrench, but the Salem bin Ghadayer trainee was an easy winner when never headed over 2000m here on the dirt surface at Meydan on his latest appearance four weeks ago. If allowed an easy lead, he has proved on four victorious occasions, he can be a very hard horse to peg back.
Godolphin’s Beauvais faces 13 rivals in the finale, the Riviera 2, a 2435m handicap and is unbeaten in the UAE having landed a 2410m turf handicap on his local debut six weeks ago. Jockey Kevin Stott maintains the partnership.