All-weather star Tryster proved his class at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday, claiming the featured Group 3 Dubai Millennium Stakes sponsored by Al Tayer Motors for Godolphin trainer, Charlie Appleby, emphatically answering questions about his ability to perform on turf.
Tryster won the Winter Derby and Easter Classic on Polytrack in the UK last year but failed to beat any of four rivals in his one sole start on turf in the Group 3 Brigadier Gerard Stakes. Yet on Thursday evening at Meydan he scorched to scintillating turf victory for the first time since he broke his maiden at Brighton in July 2014.
He was last to leave the Dubai Millennium Stakes starting gate, but had no problem running down his rivals to land the Group 3 contest under Godolphin jockey, William Buick.
“The slow pace did not really suit us,” said Buick. “He tends to miss the break and has done so again but travels so strongly he can make up ground easily.
“He quickens so well which is always a potent weapon and hopefully the Dubai Turf on Dubai World Cup night will be the race for him.
“They should go quickly in that and the faster they go, the better to allow him to unleash that acceleration at the death. We are really happy he adapted at that quality on the turf,” Buick said. “You’d have to be impressed by his turn of foot. We have seen it before on Polytrack before but it is nice to see it on turf.”
Trainer, Appleby was also impressed. “On paper he had to be very competitive but there was a question mark about whether he could show that on the turf and quite clearly he has shown that,” he said. “When he won the Easter Classic the times were very fast. This evening when they went steady, I was a bit concerned but I wound the clock back in my head and they went steady in the Easter Classic that day.
“On the performance he put up this evening he is going to be bang there [for Group 1 races]. The competition on Dubai World Cup night is going to be much stiffer. He is a big confidence horse so that would have done him the world of good. It puts to bed all of those question marks and hopefully we can look forward to a nice summer ahead, as well.”
Tryster now has the option to run in the Group 1 Jebel Hatta over 1800 metres on Super Saturday on March 5, and/or go straight to World Cup night and a clash with reigning champion Solow in in the Dubai Turf on March 26.
It was a fourth consecutive win in the Dubai Millennium Stakes for Godolphin trainers but a first for Appleby whose decision to run his horse on turf, not dirt, was vindicated in style.
Godolphin was back in the Winner’s Circle for the last race of the evening, the Jaguar XF Handicap over 1600m on the turf, this time courtesy of trainer, Saeed Bin Suroor.
Carry On Deryck, under Welshman David Probert, led home a Godolphin 1-2-3-4 that saw Udododontu, Secret Brief and Flash Fire follow him over the line.
The meeting opened with the only Purebred Arabian race on the card, the Group 2 Bani Yas, a 1400m dirt contest in which eight went to post but only two were ever really involved.
Pat Dobbs and Shateh flew out the stalls to take an early lead, tracked by Paul Hanagan on AF Mathmoon. The pair had the race between them from just after halfway with Dobbs trying to increase the tempo on Shateh but Paul Hanagan covering every move aboard AF Mathmoon.
At the 400m pole, Hanagan sent his mount to the front and, despite Shateh trying his best, they were always in control.
“He is a nice, young horse with low mileage,” said Hanagan. “I was always going well and it was a good performance, beating a decent horse in the process.
‘Hopefully, he is still improving.”
The owner completed a double, this time with his second jockey, Dane O’Neill in the saddle aboard Maftool who was having his first start for Musabah Al Muhairi having won last year’s UAE 2000 Guineas for Godolphin.
He had not won since, though was second in both the UAE Derby and Group 2 Bosphorus Cup in Turkey on his final Godolphin outing and was gelded over the winter. The Godolphin Mile could be his Dubai World Cup day target.
Winner of last year’s Group 3 Meydan Sprint, the 1000m turf dash on Super Saturday, the Ian Williams-trained Sir Maximilian won for the first time since landing a handicap over the same course and distance.
Ridden for the first time by Pat Dobbs and drawn 14 of the 14 runners, Dobbs settled his mount in last of a group of six on the nearside. They always looked to have the measure of their five rivals but, 300m from home, the far side looked to be ahead.
Roicead hit the front in that group but, as the line approached, Dobbs was able to put his mount’s head in front to land the spoils.
The jockey is enjoying a fantastic season, especially here at Meydan, and he promptly completed a double, partnering the Doug Watson-trained Faulkner to a hard fought victory in a 1900m dirt handicap.
Gallant veteran Tiz Now Tiz Then tried to make all under Richard Mullen with Dobbs never far behind him. It was a two horse race from a long way out with Dobbs able to force his mount ahead 200m out and they held on grimly from a renewed challenge from the runner-up.
“Faulkner is a real favourite in the yard,” said Watson. “It is a great result for the whole team as he has had a few niggling problems.
“We will miss Super Saturday and perhaps look at the Godolphin Mile.”
The 1400m turf handicap went to Bahrain with Mickael Barzalona performing the steering of the Ali Jan-trained Fils Anges, providing the trainer a first ever Dubai World Cup Carnival winner.