Friday’s Young Presidents’ Organization-sponsored Racing at Meydan meeting was highlighted by a 1600m handicap, won in style by Stormardal under jockey, Wayne Smith.
The meeting was the last to be held at Meydan Racecourse before the season-ending Dubai World Cup day on Saturday March 26.
Only six faced the starter in Friday’s feature race, with Scotland Forever keen to get to the front under Richard Mullen and tracked by Padlock.
However Smith, who was in double form on the night after also steering the Mike de Kock-trained Baroot to victory, was travelling strongly in behind on the Ismail Mohammed-trained Stormardal. Padlock ground his way past the weakening Scotland Forever 400m from home yet it was only a brief lead. Smith was able to secure a clear path between the previous leaders, hitting the front himself 300m out and Stormadal soon put the race to bed.
It was a second UAE and fourth career victory for Stormardal, who had won over the same course and distance on his penultimate start.
“I was always going nicely and able to save ground on the inside,” said Smith. “They went pretty hard up front which has played into our hands and, once a gap appeared, he quickened through it and was never going to be caught.
“I honestly thought he would be a Dubai World Cup Carnival horse but he has had a few problems. He seems to run well fresh and, hopefully, can build on this next season.”
HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum is enjoying a fantastic season and his Moosir was the easy winner of an earlier 1600m handicap, continuing not only his own prolific campaign but that of the horse’s trainer, Doug Watson.
Having made a belated return to action a winning one at Sharjah Racecourse two weeks ago, Moosir scored more comfortably here, making all under the owner’s retained jockey, Paul Hanagan.
“He has done that well, said Hanagan. “Full credit to Doug and his team for getting him back in such good form.”
Owner and jockey celebrated a treble on the night, when Alareef led on the line from the Tadhg O’Shea-ridden Mutahaddith in the 1200m handicap. Later, Nathr scored in the concluding 1900m handicap by nine-and-a-quarter lengths.
“When you win a treble, it doesn’t really get much better,” said Hanagan. “Nathr gave me a lovely feel. He’s been hitting the crossbar a few times and he really deserved this.”
Nathr crossed the line in 1:57.05, interestingly just 0:38sec outside the record set by Dubai World Cup contender, Frosted in the Al Maktoum Challenge R2 earlier this season.
De Kock was another to claim a double when jockey, Smith aboard Baroot, were the comfortable winners of a 1400m handicap.
As he had on Stormardal, Smith sat just in behind in the early speed and was content to wait before launching his challenge.
Richard Mullen tried to steal the race on the home turn, kicking Conquerant past early leader, Ticket Holder but Smith had the move covered.
Baroot led at the 200m pole to win going away and register his second career victory, following up his 1900m maiden success two starts ago in January.
“It was a good performance,” said Smith. “We thought he would cope with this drop back in trip after an excellent second over 1600m last time.”
The meeting opened with the first of two maidens, this one over 1600m and was won reasonably comfortably by Rockley.
As a graduate of the Racing in Dubai sale, the Salem bin Ghadayer trainee claimed not only the AED75,000 first prize but also became the second winner of an AED15,000 bonus offered for winners from the sale.
Having shown promise on his local debut when fourth in a 1200m Jebel Ali maiden last Friday, he and Royston Ffrench stayed on strongly to land this and deny Boarding Party who led for the first 1350m under Pat Dobbs.
“He is only a three-year-old and ran well last week over a trip on the sharp side,” said Ffrench. “We thought the extra 400m would suit him and he ran on strongly so will probably stay further.”
The second maiden, over 2000m, was turned into a procession by Burnt Pavlova, the only filly among the nine runners, and who was never headed under Chris Hayes. Hayes was deputising for Harry Bentley who was in action in Qatar, riding at a meeting originally rained off on Wednesday.
Trained by Ahmad bin Harmash, Hayes’ spare ride was a staying on second in a 1600m handicap at Al Ain Racecourse two weeks ago and was opening her account at the seventh attempt on her fourth UAE outing.
“It was certainly a nice spare ride and the connections were pretty confident,” said Hayes. “I was happy to be positive on her and she was always going well in front.
“I did not actually realise how far clear I was and she is a nice filly.”