Thursday’s third meeting of the 2016 Dubai World Cup Carnival was highlighted by the Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort and, for the second year running, the 1400m turf feature was won by Godolphin’s Safety Check.
It was a first Carnival winner of the campaign for trainer, Charlie Appleby and stable jockey, William Buick. At the halfway stage Buick and Safety Check were a long way off the leaders with Ghaamer and Mastermind setting a frantic early fractions.
The Ali Rashid Al Raihe-trained Ghaamer ran out of steam with 300m remaining, leaving Mastermind in front but he, not surprisingly, was tiring and had no answer to Buick and Safety Check as they pounced inside the final 200m.
Harry’s Son, one of five runners in the race representing South Africa, ran on to snatch second with the legendary Piere Strydom riding for Paul Lafferty. The Mike de Kock-trained Mastermind held on for third.
“He just loves it in Dubai,” said Appleby. “The track itself and the style of racing really suits him and that was a good performance first time out. We were pretty hopeful and thought we had him fitter for this return than when he won a course and distance handicap first time last year.
“He won the Group 2 Zabeel Mile last year and that will be the next target but he does work well on dirt so, maybe after that, we will try him on the dirt. It is nice to get the first winner on the board.”
Safety Check broke the track record in the process, becoming only the second dual winner of the race since Linngari won consecutive Al Fahidi Forts in 2006 and 2007 when the race was run over the longer trip of 1600m.
“He’s a legend, a stable favourite,” said the winning jockey, Buick. “Tonight was tricky because there was such a strong pace on and it’s difficult to judge when to push the button. He has an electric turn of foot but it doesn’t last very long.”
Only eight went to post for the 1000m turf handicap with two trained by Dhruba Selvaratnam and they dominated proceedings, finishing first and second with Wayne Smith aboard the winner, Roicead who ran on too strongly for stable companion Saayerr, the mount of stable jockey, Chris Hayes.
Smith, completing a rapid double, sent his mount after early leader, Caspian Prince at the halfway mark and Roicead found a telling burst of acceleration to lead about 300m from home.
They never looked likely to be caught with Saayerr finishing well to snatch second close home from Caspian Prince.
“They worked together here on the turf last week,” said Selvaratnam. “Saayerr galloped all over Roicead then but Saayerr has probably needed the run tonight as he had been off almost a year.
“We will keep them both to the turf sprints for now and they are two nice, solid sprinters. Obviously it is great to win any Carnival race but to have the second as well is more than we could have hoped for.”
Hayes had to settle for the runner-up berth there but completed a double for Selvaratnam with the determined victory of Top Clearance in a 1600m dirt handicap.
A promising eighth in the opening round of the Al Maktoum Challenge two weeks ago, he showed the benefit of that outing to lead close home.
Representing Korea, Success Story, the first Korean-bred runner to race in the Dubai World Cup Carnival, tried to make all but was collared by Godolphin’s American Hope 200m from the line but Hayes was rousting Top Clearance and they led in the final stages to complete a great evening for the Selvaratnam team. Success Story was an honourable third and received a rousing reception on his return to the Parade Ring.
“We did not enjoy a clear run last time,” said Hayes. “We were pretty confident of a big effort today and I am delighted to ride my first Carnival winner.”
This week’s non-Carnival race was the opening 1900m dirt handicap won by Smith aboard the Ismail Mohammed-trained Respect Me.
Selvaratnam was not the only trainer to saddle first and second in the same race with South African, Mike de Kock and Godolphin trainer, Saeed Bin Suroor repeating the same trick. In De Kock’s case, it was Sanshaawes who denied stable companion, Whistle Stop in the District One Trophy over 2000m turf handicap.
Christophe Soumillon rode the winner having stalked a very steady early pace set by Godolphin’s Tha’Ir before throwing down a determined and ultimately successful challenge. Switching his mount off the rail, Soumillon mustered a good turn of foot from Sanshaawes, winning in the UAE for a third time having tasted victory twice at Meydan in 2014.
“He ran very well when third first time this year,” said Soumillon. “They did not go quick and I was always happy I was in the right place to challenge when the pace quickened.”
Initially reluctant to enter the stalls, Special Fighter, ridden by Fernando Jara for Musabah Al Muhairi, set a 1900m dirt track record when comfortably beating five rivals in a handicap.
“He ran over 1600m in the Maktoum Challenge two weeks ago and went well enough,” said Jara who won the 2007 Dubai World Cup aboard Invasor. “This is definitely a better trip for him and he will stay further.
“He really goes nicely on this dirt surface and it was a good performance today. We will think about going back up in class with him now and he is a nice horse to have in the yard.”
The finale, a 2435m turf handicap was claimed by the Saeed Bin Suroor-trained Haafaguinea under William Buick while stable companion, Al Saham gave the Godolphin handler a one-two.