The straight turf at Meydan Racecourse was used for the first time this season on Saturday and produced an exciting finish with Charlie Croker and Pat Dobbs hitting the front in the dying strides to land the sprint spoils.
In doing so, they denied Chris Hayes and Roossey, a combination which themselves had only led in the final 50m having passed Knavery who looked likely to hold on under David Probert.
The winner, trained by Doug Watson, was having only his second UAE start, having shown promise on the Jebel Ali dirt four weeks earlier. He was ridden with immense patience by Dobbs who, after they were one of the quickest away, anchored his mount in last of the ten runners.
They closed at halfway, about the same time Knavery hit the front and Roossey started his challenge, before the trio fought out the finish.
“We thought he had a decent chance back on turf,” said Watson. “He has plenty of speed and his best form in England was on fast ground so he had plenty in his favour.
“He is only a young horse and hopefully has more to offer.”
Watson and Dobbs were completing a rapid double, having landed the preceding 1400m dirt handicap with State Law whose success was secured in total polar fashion; they made virtually all the running.
Sporting a visor for the first time, Dobbs’ mount was quickly away and sent straight to the front. Even though drawn nine of ten runners, they were soon able to claim the rail and never really looked likely to be beaten.
They skipped clear entering the straight and eventually crossed the line almost six lengths clear.
“Both his previous wins were over 1600m but we know he has the pace for 1400m,” said Watson. “We just put the visor on to sharpen him up a bit as he has not really fired in his last two runs.
“Pat has given him a great ride and done well to get across from a poor draw.”
The evening’s finale, a 1600m handicap, was the second of two turf races on an informative card and Godolphin scored with their sole runner, the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Udododontu.
Ridden by Qatar’s Champion Jockey, Harry Bentley he was settled just off the modest early pace set by Sadeek’s Song. It was at the halfway point that Tadhg O’Shea decided they were dawdling and took Need To Know out wide and to the front.
He kicked for home a long way out, opening up a decent advantage but Bentley always looked confident and soon reduced the deficit, leading 300m out and posting an easy win.
The meeting opened with a maiden over 1900m, won very easily by Baroot, one of two runners at the meeting, both in this race, for South African, Mike de Kock.
Noted staying on strongly in a 1400m handicap on his previous outing, he made the most of this drop in class and was far too good for his 11 rivals.
Ridden by Wayne Smith, he was quickly away and always stalking the early leader Stamford before shooting through a gap on the rail early in the straight.
The race was soon over as a contest with Smith’s mount opening his account at the seventh attempt and third in the UAE.
“We knew that if he stayed he would be hard to beat,” said Smith. “It was a weak race but all he could do was win and he has, in style.”
The 1400m handicap produced a thrilling finish with Padlock and Sam Hitchcott, who led from the outset, challenged throughout the home straight by Paul Hanagan and Ajraam.
They flashed past the post locked together with the judge determining it was Hanagan’s mount who had led, literally, right on the line to deny the gallant Padlock by a nose.
Homebred by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Musabah Al Muhairi-trained Ajraam was recording a second Meydan victory this season, having won over 1200m at the track’s first meeting of the campaign in November.
“I was not sure as we passed the line but Sam thought I had won,” said Hanagan. “It was obviously very close and luckily we were in front. He was ever so brave and answered my every call.
“He is tough which always helps and he was giving the second plenty of weight so it was a pleasing effort.”
Riding for Ahmad bin Harmash, stable jockey Freddie Tylicki and mount, Brabbham were another combination to lead virtually all the way in a 1900m dirt handicap.
A new recruit to the UAE this season, the winner was opening his local account at the fifth attempt and losing his maiden tag in the process on his tenth career outing.