Gulf News

Sprint­ers to the fore in Mey­dan fea­ture


- BY LES­LIE WIL­SON JR Rac­ing & Spe­cial Fea­tures Writer

Mey­dan Race­course hosts the first no­table ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ con­test in the form of the Listed Garhoud Sprint, spon­sored by Al Tayer Mo­tors, the fea­ture race of an in­ter­est­ing seven-race pro­gramme.

Run over the same dis­tance at the $2.5 mil­lion (Dh9.18 mil­lion) Group 1 Dubai Golden Sha­heen, spon­sored by Gulf News, the race has at­tracted a strong field of ten run­ners headed by Al­manaara, an im­pe­ri­ous 7½-length win­ner over the course and dis­tance in March.

Trained by cham­pion trainer Doug Wat­son, the ex­cit­ing son of Shamardal rep­re­sents Shaikh Ham­dan Bin Rashid Al Mak­toum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Min­is­ter of Fi­nance, whose horses have won four of the first five edi­tions of the race since its in­au­gu­ra­tion in 2013.

The race is an early pointer to the ma­jor sprint con­tests lead­ing up to the Golden Sha­heen and has un­der­stand­ably at­tracted some high-qual­ity speed­balls, in­clud­ing six win­ners from the 2018 Dubai World Cup Car­ni­val

Al­manaara won this race in 2016 and looks the one to beat. Wat­son also saddles Drafted, a bar­gain pur­chase at the 2017 Rac­ing in Dubai Sale, and the promis­ing Kim­bear.

“All three are in very good shape and work­ing well at home,” the trainer said. “Al­manaara has the best draw of the trio over what is prob­a­bly his ideal trip, but, hope­fully, the other two will be stay­ing on.

Ideal op­por­tu­nity

It is four weeks un­til the Dubai World Cup Car­ni­val and this looks an ideal op­por­tu­nity to get them back on the track.”

On his third UAE out­ing, Kim­bear chased home the Satish Seemar-trained Raven’s Cor­ner, who set a record over 1,400 me­tres on the Mey­dan dirt. Trained by Seemar, the five-year-old will be hav­ing his first start of the cam­paign. He is joined in the field by sta­ble com­pan­ion Cir­cle Dream, the mount of Tadhg O’Shea.

Bhu­pat Seemar, as­sis­tant trainer to Satish, said: “Raven’s Cor­ner is in very good form, but has been done no favours by the draw (post 9) and should im­prove for his first run back. Cir­cle Dream is a 3-year-old tak­ing on the older horses, which is never easy, but he is do­ing well at home.”

Fazza Sta­bles’ San­deep Jad­hav also runs two, with sta­ble jockey Roys­ton Ffrench opt­ing to part­ner Jebel Ali Race­course scorer High on Life and Xavier Ziani aboard Sut­ter County. “High on Life did not run as well as we hoped he would last time,” Jad­hav said. “He has a great draw and we are very hope­ful. Sut­ter County has been work­ing well since his first run, but the draw was not help­ful for him.”

Emi­rati han­dler Mus­abbeh Al Mheiri has sad­dled the win­ner of this sprint three times and is rep­re­sented by dirt debu­tant Ibn Ma­lik, the mount of Ben Cur­tis.

A win­ner twice in Great Bri­tain when trained by Char­lie Hills, he has of­ten run well in the face of a stiff task, hav­ing con­tested races won by the likes of sub­se­quent Group 1 win­ners Jun­gle Cat, Ribch­ester and The Tin Man.

Be­sides the fea­ture, to­day’s card also fea­tures the 1,400-me­tre Lin­coln Con­ti­nen­tal, and Lin­coln Nav­i­ga­tor over 2,000 me­tres.

The race is an early pointer to the ma­jor sprint con­tests lead­ing up to the Golden Sha­heen and has at­tracted high­qual­ity speed­balls.

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