DUBAI: Racing at Meydan had its 10th domestic meeting of the season on Thursday evening, which was highlighted by the featured fourth race, the Longines Master Collection Handicap over 1600m. Said affair was won in absolutely dominant style by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Mussabeh Al Mheiri-trianed Alkaamel, who was ridden aggressively by Antonio Fresu from his rail post, a move that proved vital when preventing heavily favoured Talento Puma from getting the lead and gathering any kind of confidence. Dismissing that rival after 400m in 24.47 and 800m in 47.31, the English-bred son of Havana Gold hit the 1200m in 1:11.15 and flew home, opening up 15-length gap by the furlong pole and finishing up under wraps and ultimately a 13½–length victory. The final time was a spritely 1:36.13 and was his first win on dirt in four tries; fourth career victory overall from 16 tries.
“That was pretty impressive,” Fresu said. “He was always travelling strongly and we had the ideal draw in stall one to be positive, which has really suited him. I had the race won turning for home and was able to ease down in the final 100m.”
Al Mheiri added: “This horse had been working well and we were pretty hopeful coming here tonight thinking the 1600m would suit him and it has.”
One race later, there was a distinct case of déjà-vu after the 1400m handicap, the Longines Conquest VHP, with Speedy Move repeating his success of last year in the equivalent race. It was another winner for Satish Seemar and Zabeel Stables, continuing their fine campaign which looks almost certain to finish with the championship honours. An 8-year-old gelded son of Iffraaj, ridden by Richard Mullen for Touch Gold Racing & Sean Ewing, he was settled in midfield among the 14 runners before being switched wide leaving the home turn. He then thundered home down the middle of the track, hitting the front 300m out and never in any danger afterwards.
A 1200m turf winner at Meydan on his penultimate start, thus was a seventh career victory for the horse, fourth in the UAE and second over this course and distance. The winner is a half-brother to Dubawi (G3) winner Raven’s Corner and German 1000 Guineas (G2) winner Unforgetable Filly.
“He is a very genuine horse,” Seemar said. “(He’s) not a very big one, but he has a massive heart and always tries his very best. If you look at the previous races, this evening he has done very well to win from a wide draw and from off the pace. He is just all heart.”
The meeting kicked off with a 1200m maiden, the Longines La Grande Classique, for which 13 went to post, but only one horse ever really mattered once Miqyaas and Adrie de Vries made their way to the front. Leading from the outset, they took advantage of an easy second 400m around the turn and came home with authority in 1:11.84. Trained by Rashed Bouresly, the 4-year-old gelded son of Oasis Dream was making his second career start. Unraced by his breeder HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum when in the care of John Gosden, he was subsequently sold for a modest price at Goffs UK in Doncaster in August 2018.
De Vries said: “He has actually done that quite nicely and seemed to relish those positive tactics, the blinkers and the dirt surface. On that evidence he will stay further but he also has plenty of tactical speed so could be a nice, fun horse for connections.”
The evening’s second race, the 1600m Longines Hydroconquest Handicap over 1600m, was won in strong fashion by Xavier Ziani and Untold Secret. Breaking well and then waiting patiently being the pace, the pair found a gap on the rail 300m out, sweeping swiftly past stablemate Rich and Famous and then holding off Guernsey. Trained by Salem bin Ghadayer for HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, the 8-year-old gelded son of Shamardal now has five wins to his name.
“That is how you have to ride this horse and you need to be patient with him,” Ziani said. “For some reason, he seems to love it here at Meydan, so I was happy to choose him over Rich and Famous and, luckily, I picked the right one.”
The Bouresly bandwagon gathered further momentum when Fabrice Veron and Shanty Star made virtually every post a winning one in the 1600m maiden, the Longines Conquest VHP Ladies, which went as the evening’s third race. A 4-year-old Hard Spun colt, Shanty Star had not managed to win in ten previous career outings, the best of which had been on turf, highlighted by a fourth place finish in last year’s 1600m Listed Meydan Classic in February and had placed plenty of classy foes before dropping kindly into this spot.
“This horse is still a big baby, but has won that nicely and given his greenness he should improve,” Veron said. “He enjoyed being out in front and travelled strongly before picking up well and running on strongly. It was a good win. When you look at his form, he goes well on turf and has now proved he can win on dirt, so connections should have some fun with him.” The nightcap, Longines Conquest Classic Handicap over 2000m, was won in come-from-behind fashion by the hard-trying Ali Rashid Al Rayhi trainee Quartier Francais, who closed from last in the two-turn affair to win going away by six lengths under Fernando Jara for owner Mohd Khalifa Al Basti. A son of Street Cry who has finished in the top three in 10 of 20 previous starts, he won for the fourth time in his career.