His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Muarrab (GB) battled with American raider X Y Jet (USA) down much of the Meydan stretch in a duel for the ages in the $2m Dubai Golden Shaheen sponsored by Gulf News. Both horses gave their all and ran winning races, with the final margin of victory a neck.
“Those last 200m felt like a long way, to be honest,” said winning jockey Paul Hanagan. “Every time I kind of got his head in front, the second horse kept battling back with me.
“When it’s like that, it’s too close for comfort. But I knew my horse is so genuine and tough that he would give his all for me, which he did.”
As soon as the gates opened in the 1200m Dubai Golden Shaheen, the race was on between Muarrab and X Y Jet, who were joined at the head of the 10-horse field early by Rich Tapestry (IRE), who broke alertly from his rail post position.
Those three blazed through the first 800m before Rich Tapestry began to fade out of the picture, leaving Muarrab on the outside and X Y Jet to his inside to slug it out while bobbing heads down the stretch.
Finishing three and three-quarter lengths further back in third was Morawij (GB), with 2013 Dubai Golden Shaheen winner Reynaldothewizard (USA) fourth.
Sheikh Hamdan greeted Muarrab, who had won the Group 3 Mahab Al Shimaal as his prep, in the winner’s circle and gently grasped the seven-year-old gelding’s left ear to celebrate.
Trainer Musabah Al Muhairi grinned widely as he led Muarrab into the parade ring.
“I am not surprised,” Muhairi said. “This horse just gets better.”
Trainer Jorge Navarro also praised his charge X Y Jet, greeting him after the race by kissing his face. Navarro suggested there may be a rematch in 2017.