Photo used for illustrative purpose.
Gulf Today, Sports Reporter
The opening night of the new Dubai Racing Carnival was one to remember for the Touch Gold Racing syndicate, who added to their trophy cabinet in the two most valuable races.
Mike Kaye’s ownership group has renewed its investment in Dubai racing and one of their new purchases, Western Symphony, quickly paid back a chunk of his fee when taking the night’s feature, the Emirates Airline Handicap, over 1600metres.
Ridden by Tadhg O’Shea for Bhupat Seemar, the five-year-old registered a fourth career success in smooth fashion, taking it up at the top of the straight and beating the eye-catching Seyouff by a length and a half.
“He’s a really strong traveller, which you want for the dirt,” said O’Shea. “He puts a lot into his races so we might space them out a bit more this season.”
35 minutes later, the same connections graced the winner’s enclosure again when Leading Spirit sprinted to his fifth career success. Facing Group 3 winners Al Tariq and Gladiator King, this was a competitive renewal of the 1200metre Emirates Airline Handicap, but Leading Spirit won with a bit in hand, taking over the lead from pacesetter Fast-Uno off the turn and holding on by a diminishing neck from Magic Petition.
“There were a couple on my outside that I didn’t want to follow so I probably went forward a bit sooner than ideal,” said 11-time Champion Jockey O’Shea. “These are lucky colours tonight, anyway!”
The first two-year-old race of Meydan’s season, the Emirates Holidays Maiden, over 1200metres, produced an exciting winner in El Nasseeb, who gave trainer Musabbeh Al Mheiri his 500th UAE winner.
“I am very happy to have this number on this night,” said Mheiri, “as tomorrow it’s my birthday! “I want to say thanks to my team, as we are working as if we are one.”
The landmark couldn’t have come in much more impressive fashion as El Nasseeb, a 6,173 Euros Goffs Dubai Breeze-up purchase, powered home by seven and a quarter lengths on his debut. Gasssid, well-fancied beforehand for in-form trainer Michael Costa, was second.
“If you asked me before I would have said it’s a question mark,” said jockey Bernardo Pinheiro. “He’s very ready at the gates but then doesn’t show much in the mornings. Mheiri made it 501 in race five, when Qareeb scored on debut for the trainer. Previously handled by Doug Watson, the five-year-old poked his nose in front of Vasilakos just before the line and won a shade cosily under jockey Al Moatasem Al Balushi.
Connor Beasley’s good start to the season continued as the British jockey collected win seven when Al Jaddaf broke his maiden in the Emirates SkyCargo Handicap, over 1600metres. Ahmad Bin Hamash’s four-year-old was second to Perfect Balance at Sharjah two weeks ago but reversed that form here, hanging on for a length and a half success over Aldhaja, with Perfect Balance third.
“Things are going well and it’s great to be back with Ahmad Bin Harmash,” said Beasley, who is riding in the UAE for the first time since 2021. “This horse ran well at Sharjah and I got to know him a bit better. If anything I got to the front a bit too soon today but he kept going nicely.”
Australian jockey Jimmy Orman is on a two-week working holiday in Dubai and he rode his sixth winner when Meshri made a successful debut in the three-year-old Arabian Adventures Maiden over 1600metres.
Costa’s new stable jockey is Irish Group 1-winner rider Ben Coen and he collected his first UAE winner when Sadeedd took the closing 1400metre Emirates.com Handicap, giving the trainer a double. Placed on his last three runs, Sadeedd deserved a change of luck and was brave in seeing off a three-horse challenge, with Triple Venture, Shake Hand and Fight Zone all threatening inside the final 100metres. In the end it was Sadeedd who prevailed by a neck.
The opening Emirates SkyCargo Handicap, for Purebred Arabians over 1400metres, went to AF Yatwy, who took his career statistics to three from four for trainer Saif Almarar. Ridden by Oscar Chavez, he held off AF Layth by a length and a half.
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.
“This was his first time running this well on firm ground and in the past he’s run well on softer ground, so taking him over to Europe is high on his to-do list. We’d like to head to Royal Ascot for the Prince of Wales’s Stakes.”
Dettori had previously secured the Dubai World Cup on Dubai Millennium, Moon Ballad and Electrocutionist, but this was the first time he had done so in colours other than those of Godolphin.
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 first ever Auction based Windmills ICAP Cricket League, held on 24rth and 25th of Feb, concluded with a thrilling victory for CountingINC, overpowering Raylaz in the final match.
Welcoming all 194 teams to this year's finals, Sheikh Hamdan praised the expansion and diversity achieved by the Gov Games, which includes the return of 28 international teams participating in the Battle of the Cities.
The former Real Madrid star will also have to pay a fine of 20,000 Saudi Riyals to Al Shabab, to cover the costs of the club filing the complaint, and half of that amount to the federation. The decision cannot be appealed.
Abu Dhabi’s school community will swap classrooms for courts, pitches, the track and more as the third edition of the Abu Dhabi Sports Championship for Schools and Universities reaches a thrilling finale.