By Muhammad Rafiq
DUBAI: Racing at Meydan Racecourse on Saturday, a matinee meeting with eight races, is highlighted by a 1600m turf handicap, which has attracted the maximum field allowed of 14. Trainer Salem bin Ghadayer is enjoying a fantastic season, both at the Dubai World Cup Carnival and Jebel Ali and has declared Mailshot, Hyde Parkand Mind That Boy, clearly merit the utmost respect in a wide open contest.
Mickael Barzalona has opted to partner Mailshot, on whom he won a course and distance handicap at a non-carnival Meydan meeting in January. He has since run twice during the Carnival, most recently finishing strongly to claim third in a turf handicap over 1800m.
Xavier Ziani, like Barzalona, also based with Bin Ghadayer at Fazza Racing Stables, is aboard Hyde Park who will be having just his second local start having joined current connections from John Gosden. Under Barzalona, he ran well for a long way in a 1400m Carnival turf handicap two weeks ago.
Meanwhile, Gerald Mosse rides Mind That Boy, who is yet to fire in seven starts this season, having previously been off the track since March 2016 when he contested the Group 3 Burj Nahaar on Super Saturday.
“We are hoping all three can run well and Mailshot is only a four-year-old who seems to be improving,” bin Ghadayer said. “Hyde Park pleased us with his first run and is fitter now, while Mind That Boy was off a long while before returning this season. He has needed his runs, so far, but hopefully is showing the right signs at home. All three, with luck, should run well.”
Doug Watson has four in the race with Jim Crowley, retained by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, riding the owner’s Ejaaby, who is seeking a hat-trick after Meydan turf victories over both 1200m and 1400m.
“He was staying on well for both his wins and the extra 200m should not be a problem,” Crowley said. “It looks another open race, but hopefully he will be thereabouts.”
Pat Dobbs chooses to ride Stunned with Sam Hitchcott, also employed primarily by Watson, aboard Pillar of Society. Stunned has actually not raced on turf since making his local debut, at Jebel Ali, in December 2015. A winner twice on the dirt at Meydan, he also has a Jebel Ali victory to his name but did not manage to register a success in eight turf outings in Europe where his only win was on the all-weather at Chelmsford. Pillar Of Society made a very encouraging local debut when second to stable companion, the aforementioned Ejaaby, in a 1400m turf handicap here at Meydan. He then failed to stay 1800m, also on the Meydan turf, a fortnight ago.
Musawaat will be having just his second outing for Fawzi Nass after staying on strongly, on his dirt debut, in a 1400m handicap here last week. He won twice on turf in England for Charlie Hills but was well beaten, albeit on soft ground, on his only previous attempt at 1600m, his final UK outing.
The meeting begins with a 1600m three-year-old maiden on dirt provides a welcome chance for some unexposed types to advertise their potential UAE Derby claims.
Watson saddles Big Brown Bear, fourth a month ago on his only previous start, over this course and distance. He looked in need of the experience on that occasion and should have benefitted from the run. That race was won by Yulong Warrior, trained by Satish Seemar who is responsible for three (after the withdrawal of Hawazen) of the 11 runners.
Richard Mullen has opted for Last Desire, well-beaten in that same contest in which Big Brown Bear debuted. Stable companion Grand Storm was third on just his second and most recent outing, in a 1600m maiden at Jebel Ali won by Mullen on another Seemar horse, Jabir.
It is then just seven days until the second biggest meeting of the UAE season, Super Saturday, the dress rehearsal for the Dubai World Cup card three weeks later.