DUBAI: Meydan Racecourse hosts a matinee meeting on Saturday with the first of eight races due off at 4 p.m. The afternoon is highlighted by the Zayed Sports City Trophy, a 1400m turf handicap with the maximum allowed field of 16 declared.
It may not be a Dubai World Cup Carnival fixture, but South African Mike de Kock has five runners on the card, including Dream Dubai, who is conceding weight to his 15 rivals in the feature. To be ridden by Pat Cosgrave, he has not run for 343 days after having raced three times for the handler last year. Previously, he was being prepared in England by Sylvester Kirk, registering his only career victory, which came on debut in March 2016 on the all-weather at Lingfield.
De Kock said: “He did not really fire in his three outings last year, but is ready for this comeback and we think this 1400m is his best trip.”
Salem bin Ghadayer is enjoying a fine season and relies on Mind That Boy, who will be having just his second turf outing for the yard having joined them for the 2016 Dubai World Cup Carnival. The 6-year-old missed the whole of last season and his best of five runs this term was over 1400m on the Meydan dirt surface in December.
“We are hoping reverting to turf will help him and the trip should suit,” bin Ghadayer said. “He has been working well”
Champion trainer Doug Watson introduces Pillar of Society to the local racing scene, alongside Ejaaby, a 1200m turf winner at the previous Meydan Saturday fixture a fortnight ago. That was just his second UAE outing and only eighth in total, while Pillar of Society, the mount of Pat Dobbs, arrives as a dual 1600m winner for Richard Hannon in England.
“Pillar of Society is a nice new horse in the yard who has been pleasing us,” Watson said. “We think conditions will suit him and it will be interesting to see how he goes in such a competitive race. He is drawn high enough, in ten, but Ejaaby is actually in 12 which is not ideal but he has come out of that win very well. He won over 1400m in England so the extra 200m should not be an issue.”
Ejaaby was chased home last time by the Satish Seemar pair of Ejbaar and Riflescope, both in opposition again for a trainer who saddles five in the race, including last year’s winner, Pupil. Of the quintet, Richard Mullen elects to ride Riflescope with Antonio Fresu aboard Pupil.
Trained by Ali Rashid Al Rayhi, Portamento seemingly faces his easiest task since leaving Godolphin and ran well in last week’s Jebel Ali Mile until badly hampered. Tadhg O’Shea has been aboard for all five starts since he joined Al Rayhi and is so again.
“He works like a good horse and has faced some stiff tasks this season,” O’Shea said. “Hopefully he can produce what he shows us at home on the track on Saturday, in which case he must have a good chance.”
De Kock won the 1200m dirt handicap, the Mubadala Petroleum Trophy, on last year’s card with Alareef, who will bid to repeat that victory under Jim Crowley. The trainer will also be hoping Baroot can go one better than 12 months ago, when beaten just a head in the 1800m turf handicap, the Mubadala Champions Cup.
“Both have had a run two weeks ago, which they needed and have improved from,” de Kock said. “Proven under the conditions and with those outings behind them, we think they should be thereabouts.”
The fourth race on the card is an intriguing 1600m event on the dirt track for 3-year-olds. Led by the cleverly named Roy Orbison, who exits a good third last week over 1400m, the ADSB Trophy also features the debut of promising Doug Watson trainee Big Brown Bear, a son of Tiznow and half-brother to four winners from five starters, as well as the return of well-regarded de Kock trainee Pertinacious, who returns to the dirt after a grass try that went awry on Jan. 20. Sports Desk