Firnas races towards the finish line to win The Entisar Listed Stakes at the Meydan Racecourse on Thursday.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
Topped by a pair of Listed stakes, the The Entisar and Garhoud Sprint, the Meydan Racecourse’s six-race card meeting on Thursday night served as a launching point for Dubai World Cup night dreams, as both of the features are course and distance preps for their corresponding races, the Dubai World Cup (G1) and Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1).
Each affair was won by a longshot trained by Salem Bin Ghadayer, topped by a win by lightly raced 7-year-old blueblood Firnas, who overtook Saltarin Dubai after a chess match-like edition of The Entisar.
Settled in second by Xavier Ziani, stalking Saltarin Dubai and Richard Mullen, Firnas edged ahead about 1300m from home and kept on galloping, challenged throughout by that rival with the pair dueling all the way up the home straight. Mullen’s mount probably drew level again about 150m out, but Firnas found a bit more to pass the post in front. Saddled by Ghadayer, completing a big race double, for Ahmad Ghalita Almheiri, the 7-year-old Dubawi gelding has now won four times, thrice in the UAE and this was his second course and distance victory this season having won a handicap a month ago.
Ghadayer said: “He is a lovely horse who has won three of his four most recent starts and has been running consistently well.”
Important Mission, ridden by Royston Ffrench, wins The Garhoud Sprint.
Favourite and local debutant Pakistan Star weakened into fourth having held every chance halfway up the straight. A dual Group One winner in Hong Kong, he is now in the care of Doug Watson who said: "He seemed to be hanging right throughout which was not ideal. We will get him home and scope him to see if anything comes to light, but we will probably put the blinkers back on him next time."
Over 1200m, the Listed Garhoud Sprint sponsored by DP World UAE region, was won in stunning fashion by Important Mission who was last of the seven runners and seemingly outpaced at halfway before flying home under Royston Ffrench in the final 300m to snatch victory from Behavioral Bias who had snatched the initiative from his stable companion Bochart entering the final 200m.
The last named held on for third, but Ffrench’s mount was going clear at the line and actually won quite cosily in the end. Saddled by Ghadayer for Sheikh Juma Dalmook Al Maktoum, the 6-year-old More Than Ready gelding was winning for the fifth time, third locally and a second 1200m Meydan dirt victory. He had arrived in the UAE with two victories for William Haggas from just five starts.
Kicking off the card was a sophomore maiden that was won stylishly in stalk-and-pounce fashion by Miller's House.
Ffrench said: “We missed the break a bit which was not ideal because he normally races prominently, but I was forced to take my time. He had the benefit of a previous run this season which the others did not and they went very quick, so that race fitness has probably proved a key factor.
“We always thought he had the ability to win a good race and he now has which is great for the whole team and owner.”
A 1600m handicap, the Jebel Ali Port, provided a crackerjack of a finish with Gervais produced by Sandro Paiva to lead close home from stable companion One Vision who himself had only led for about 50m having passed Torno Subito who faded into fifth behind Spring Jig who snatched fourth, a place behind Dirilis Ertigul. First and second are both trained by Ali Rashid Al Rayhi with stable jockey Connor Beasley on the runner-up with Gervais actually doubling his career account in the process and he has now finished in the first three in half of his 28 starts. Owned by Jumaa Mubarak Al Junaibi, the 6-year-old Distorted Humor gelding’s previous success was posted over 1600m at Al Ain in November 2018.
Beasley was on the right one in the finale, a 1400m condition race for juveniles, the JAFZA, probably never headed aboard Zhou Storm, the pair following up their 1200m maiden victory from a month ago, completing a double for Al Rayhi in the process. A Due diligence colt, he was penalised for that maiden victory when forced to work very hard by Rare Ninja who was well beaten in eighth on this occasion.
Restricted to 3-year-olds, the opening 1600m maiden, the Mina Rashid attracted a field of 15, but very few were ever able to get in contention and, once passing stable companion Mass Media leaving the home turn, Miller’s House soon had the race in safe keeping. Trained by Satish Seemar for Mohd Khalifa Al Basti, the Munnings colt was settled just behind Mass Media by Richard Mullen who always appeared confident before committing his mount for home about 600m out. It was just a fourth career start for the winner who raced once in Britain for David Simcock in February and was having his third start of the current campaign, building on a promising third, over 1400m, here at Meydan a fortnight ago.
Thirteen went to post in the following P&O Marinas, a 2000m maiden, but there was only ever one leader, seasonal debutant Kanood sent straight to the front by Adrie de Vries who kicked him clear of eventual runner-up Bladesmith fully 600m out and they never looked likely to be caught.Owned and trained by Fawzi Nass, the winner, a 4-year-old son of Distorted Humor was having just his third career start and first since being gelded after two heavy defeats last season, both at Meydan, on turf for his debut and then over this 2000m course and distance. An expensive yearling, attracting a lofty $450,000, he paid back a small amount of that purchase price, $13,480 to be precise.
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The 1600m dirt highlight was contested by just six runners, but once Tadhg O’Shea set sail for home early in the straight there was only ever going to be one outcome.
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