For The Top, ridden by Antonio Fresu, races towards the finish line to win The Entisar at Meydan Racecourse.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
Racing at Meydan on Thursday evening was highlighted by the biggest Thoroughbred race of the season to date at the UAE’s flagship racecourse, The Entisar, won impressively by For The Top, committed for home fully 700m out and staying on strongly for Antonio Fresu.
Inaugurated in 2013, the 2000m Listed feature was won by subsequent Group One winner Special Fighter in 2015, the first of what is now three victories in the race for Musabbeh Al Mheiri who also saddled Military Law to claim the prize in 2018, also under Fresu.
A 6yo entire son of Equal Stripes now owned by RRR Racing, he was originally campaigned in his native Argentina, where he was a Grade One winner, before joining Bob Baffert in the States where he failed to win in three outings.
He then joined Salem Bin Ghadayer, again failing to add to a pair of South American victories. This was just his second start for Mheiri, having finished well beaten on the Abu Dhabi turf 18 days ago.
The main support race, a 1600m rated conditions stakes, went to local debutant Everfast who looked likely to win easily when shooting clear under Pat Dobbs entering the final 400m. However, he was either tiring or getting lonely in the final 100m with Gentle Bellini flying home in second, though never really threatening Dobbs’ mount.
Saddled by Doug Watson for Kildare Stud’s Frankie O’Connor, the 5yo gelded son of Take Charge Indy was twice successful in the US and was returning to action here after an absence of 336 days on his first start for trainer and owner.
Proceedings commenced with the sole Purebred Arabian race on the card, a 1600m conditions contest in which trainer Abdallah Al Hammadi and Al Ajban Stables continued their bright start to the campaign, their Only Smoke delivered by Pat Cosgrave to snatch the spoils close home from local debutant Thayer Athbah.
A tenth winner this season for both owner and trainer, the 4yo colt was doubling his own career tally on his seventh start. His previous success, on his second appearance, was in a 1600m Al Ain maiden, a race he won by almost ten lengths on this very weekend 12 months ago.
Now an 8-year-old, after 20 starts he has won just once, his final appearance in his native France, over 1,700m on turf, in July 2018. He joined Mohd Ramadan, making a very pleasing local debut in a conditions race over the same 2,000m as Friday’s race.
The Abu Dhabi turf played host to six races on Sunday and UAE champion Jockey Tadhg O’Shea landed four consecutive races for a memorable four-timer, including doubles for both Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda and Ernst Oertel.
Racing at Meydan on Thursday features a Stakes race apiece for both the Purebred Arabians and the Thoroughbreds, the latter, the Listed Dubai Creek Mile the most valuable race on the card and attracting a field of 11, including last year’s winner, Thegreatcollection.
Over 1200m on dirt, the surface on which the whole card was staged due to issues with the turf track caused by inclement weather, it was contested by a select sextet but, having raced in the rear, O’Shea took aim at the other five leaving the home turn and found a willing partner.
The committee directed the referees to allow any Muslim player to break the fast during the evening matches during the month of Ramadan.
Lions Led by Upul Tharanga and Tillakaratne Dilshan's breezy half-centuries Asian Lions scored an emphatic seven-wicket victory with 23 balls to spare.
The Team Games Co. in Hatta Sports Club organizes the championship, held annually during the Holy Month of Ramadan, with the support of Dubai Sports Council.