DUBAI: Racing at Meydan Saturday saved the best for last when Hot Scot Racing Stable’s Riflescope shot down the nightcap and co-feature—the AED 205,000 Al Maryah Island Trophy Handicap over 1200m on turf— with authority. The final time was a blistering 1:09.90—quickest of the season thus far—and margin a rather dominant 2¾ lengths. Satish Seemar of Zabeel Stables landed a hat trick in the process and O’Shea won his second race of the evening.
“It’s great to win for the owner, who’s been here since Race 1 today and I’m sure there will be a good celebration tonight,” O’Shea said. “(Riflescope) is a horse who acts well on both surfaces, but sometimes they really like when you put them back on grass. He’s a very genuine horse who was drawn well and it’s a big team effort at Zabeel Stables and a pleasure to give them a winner.”
The other feature of the night was the Healthpoint Better Together Cup, a turf handicap over 1800m in which several of the 16 runners were eager to advertise their Dubai World Cup Carnival claims and it was Muzdawaj who was able to do that, leading in the final 100m to win well under Jim Crowley for His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who owned a quarter of the 16 competitors and also finished second with Tafaakhor. A half-brother to late sprint star Ertijaal, he was saddled by Musabbeh Al Mheiri.
Crowley said: “It is never easy picking the right one, but we thought he ran very well last time. Luckily, I made the correct choice on this occasion. Obviously, the Carnival races are going to be tougher, but this 1800m really suits him. Hopefully he will be competitive there.”
Restricted to 3-year-olds, the Special Olympics World Games Cup, a turf maiden over the same 1800m, was a dramatic affair with at least half of the 14 runners holding a realistic chance at some stage in the straight. Ultimately it was well-fancied Bila Shak who won in workmanlike fashion under Adrie de Vries, riding for Fawzi Nass and overcoming a lacklustre start. A colt from the final crop of Scat Daddy, the winner is a half-brother to Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) runner-up Giovanni Boldini and cost $250,000 at auction as a yearling.
“We have always really liked this horse, who trains like a very good one, but disappointed us last week, which is why we pulled him out again so quickly,” Nass said. “We thought he was one for the Al Bastakiya and UAE Derby, but he keeps missing the break, which is a lot harder to get away with in the dirt races.”
Runner-up on both his previous two efforts for his current trainer, Solar Shower made it third time lucky since joining Helal Al Alawi in the opener. Soon in front under Billy Lee, the 5-year-old entire by Oasis Dream was seemingly always travelling well with himself and, once sent for home early in the straight, was never in danger of being caught.
Lee, sporting the predominantly red silks of Saleh Omar Ali Bin Haldar and riding his first Meydan winner, said: “Obviously it is nice to get that first Meydan winner out of the way after a few close shouts. We probably won too easily in the end, but I was able to get to the front, give him a breather and then he quickened nicely when I asked. This is a horse who almost tries too hard, even at home in the mornings, and makes life harder for himself, but this should do his confidence a lot of good.”
Connections were then denied a quick double when their Sea Skimmer stayed on strongly in the following 2000m dirt handicap, the Masdar Trophy, but was unable to get on terms with Thaaqib, opening his UAE account at the tenth attempt and seventh run of the current campaign. The 5-year-old gelded son of Invincible Spirit initiated a double for Sheikh Hamdan when piloted to victory by Antonio Fresu, riding for his main local employer, Erwan Charpy.
“He was twice withdrawn at the start at Jebel Ali last season, so we needed to iron that out,” Charpy said. “That is one reason we have kept him quite busy at different tracks and, to be honest, we really wanted to run him at Abu Dhabi tomorrow, but he did not get in. We had a good low draw here, as well as a low weight, so were keen to utilise that by racing close to the pace and being positive. Luckily it has all worked out.”
Dropped in class by Satish Seemar, the progressive Beachcomber Bay was soon in front in the CCAD Healthcare Cup, a 1200m dirt handicap and, having seen off a persistent challenge from Alraased, was kicked clear 300m out by Richard Mullen and then always holding Power Link who probably did as well to finish as close he did having blown the start.
Mullen said: “We were pretty hopeful after his last run in a better race despite a poor draw and having to concede weight to the others, but he is a nice horse. I was able to get to the front and he really quickened in style to win his race when I asked. He is going the right way and hopefully there is more to come.”
Seemar completed a dirt double, this time combining with Tadhg O’Shea who produced Mazeed to lead close home in the Yahsat Trophy, a 1600m handicap. With Pirate’s Covetaking the 14 runners along at a frantic early gallop, stalked by Craving, that pair were still fighting it out with 200m left. Craving hit the front before Welford, also trained by Seemar, looked the likely winner before Mazeed appeared with a telling challenge before Quartier Francais flew home from last at halfway to snatch second. Sporting the silks of Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, the 5-year-old gelded son of Street Cry was doubling his career tally.
O’Shea said: “The fast gallop has really suited him and he stayed on very well, which was a good effort because we had a poor draw.” Sport Desk