All eyes on the enigmatic Pakistan Star at Entisaar-Listed contest.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
The iconic Meydan Racecourse’s fourth meeting on Thursday evening is undoubtedly the best fixture of the new season thus far, featuring a pair of Listed contests with proven Dubai World Cup Carnival runners set to be joined by those with aspirations for the 2021 international extravaganza.
Over the same 2000m on dirt as the Dubai World Cup itself, The Entisar sponsored by Hamdan Bin Mohammed Cruise Terminal has attracted a field of nine with all eyes likely to be focused on the enigmatic Pakistan Star, making both his local and dirt debut having joined Doug Watson after a varied career in Hong Kong.
The 7-year-old Shamardal gelding was foaled in Germany, but has raced, to date solely in Hong Kong, twice winning at Group One level, but just as famous, initially, for missing the break and producing a flying finish. However, his final appearance in Hong Kong, just over a year ago in the middle of November, ended abruptly when the horse basically pulled himself up after less than 200m.
Stable jockey Pat Dobbs rides with Sam Hitchcott aboard stable companion Just A Penny, considered by many as a Jebel Ali specialist having registered all nine career wins ‘up the hill’.
Watson, seeking a fifth win in a race inaugurated as recently as 2013, said: “Pakistan Star has settled in really well and has been a pleasure to deal with. Obviously we need to find out if he handles the dirt in a race; he has worked very nicely on it, but a race is a different matter and we are looking forward to running him.
“Just A Penny has not run at Meydan for a long time, but we thought it worth trying him there; the Jebel Ali Mile and Stakes are currently his main targets.”
For Satish Seemar, Saltarin Dubai was runner-up in this last year under Richard Mullen and the pair will be hoping to go one place better and record a third course and distance victory together. They won a carnival handicap in January 2019 and, in March 2018, landed the Listed Curlin Handicap.
Seemar also saddles George Villiers, another to have won a carnival handicap over this 2000m track and trip, in his case in January last year. Tadhg O’Shea rides.
Assistant trainer, Bhupat Seemar said: “We obviously know conditions suit both our horses and Saltarin Dubai has a very good draw which we can hopefully take advantage of.
“George Villiers ran over a mile a fortnight ago and that was on the sharp side for him, so he will be much happier back at 2000m.”
From three Salem Bin Ghadayer runners, Royston Ffrench has opted to ride For The Top, Xavier Ziani chooses Firnas, leaving the spare ride on Montsarrat for Ryan Curatolo.
Ghadayer said: “For The Top is definitely one of our very best horses and ran very well against Benbatl last season and then again in a very good race in Saudi Arabia. We hope he is going to have a very good season.
“Firnas was a course and distance winner a month ago for Xavier, but that was just a handicap and this is a stronger race. He is fit and well though as is Montsarrat who needed his comeback run at Jebel Ali. He was not beaten far by George Villiers in January and is better suited by the weights this time.”
Musabbeh Al Mheiri saddled Military Law to win this under Fernando Jara for Nasir Askar last year and the trio combine with Casey Jones, already a Meydan winner this season having landed the featured 1600m conditions race a fortnight ago.
The field is completed by dirt debutant Zaman, the mount of Fernando Jara and trained by Ahmad Bin Harmash for Abdullah Menahi. If taking to the surface, he could surprise a few, seeking a second Meydan victory at Listed level having won the 2018 Meydan Classic, over 1600m on turf, for Godolphin and Charlie Appleby. This will be just his second start for current connections.
Nine also go to post for the 1200m Listed Garhoud Sprint in which the Watson-trained Waady carries a penalty for his February victory in the 1000m Group 2 Meydan Sprint in February. That was on turf, as was the handicap he won a week earlier, but he did make a winning start to last season over the same 1200m on dirt as Thursday’s race. Dane O’Neill, riding for his main employer Deputy Rules of Dubai and UAE's Minister of Finance Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is aboard the 8-year-old, but they have not fared too well in the draw; he is in stall eight, but is better berthed than Watson’s second runner, My Catch, who is widest of all in nine as he seeks to repeat his victory in this race of 2016 under Pat Dobbs who again rides.
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