The rains tumbled down on the Meydan track but nothing was going to stop an action packed eight race card highlighted by some upsets, an international first and a red hot favourite from Charlie Appleby that would not be defeated.
The Friday meeting marked the fourth fixture of the 2023 Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan Racecourse highlighted by the Group 3 Firebreak Stakes, over the same 1600m on dirt as the Godolphin Mile.
The feature race turned into a clinic from the Doug Watson stable producing first, second and third with Prince Eiji, Everlast and Thegreatcollection.
With a smaller field on the card, eight runners, prior to the race two runners shared the bulk of the money in Discovery Island and Law of Peace, with both having both having Listed or Group race experience.
However it was Prince Eiji with an impressive ride from Sam Hitchcott to stalk the early speed and cruise in the straight to victory.
Owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Obaid Al Maktoum, the winner, a 7yo Dubawi gelding was impressive winning on his seasonal debut, over this course and distance, in the Listed Dubai Creek Mile. He was then, however, under the same conditions, seemingly disappointing in the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge R1.
Enjoying the first three to finish Watson was impressed.
“Obviously it is a great result for the whole team and Sheikh Mohammed Obaid. It was nice to see the winner bounce back, Everfast has run very well and Thegreatcollection was staying on.
“It was a fantastic result and Prince Eiji had a lovely tow into the race and has done that in style.”
The Listed Dubai Sprint came down to an intense finish for spectators with a under three lengths between the winner and fifth place runner. Attracting a field of 15 the red-hot favourite was always going to be the 113-rated Man Of Promise, trained by Charlie Appleby. The 6YO gelded son of Into Mischief was looking to make it five wins from 13 career starts with wins in both Listed and Group Three company. The bulk of the money was in his corner and from the barriers he moved quickly from seventh to lead with 200m left of the journey. Gordon Elliot’s 5YO Coachello was not going to be ignored and ambled up to lay down the challenge in the leaders inside and with 50m left thrust his head forward under Pat Dobbs to take the spoils at great odds. It was the winners first victory in the UAE on its third attempt having not won since December 2021 at Deauville.
“He broke well and travelled strongly before really battling close home on ground he enjoyed,” hoop Dobbs said.
The card was opened with the Festival City Stakes with the favourite in the Musabbeh Al Mheiri trained 3YO colt Lahresh showing how its done winning by 4.5 lengths. With Antonio Fresu onboard the son of Iffraaj battled it out at the front for most of the journey before hitting the lead with 600m left to run and kicking away to win well.
The partnership of Bhupat Seemar and Tadhg O’Shea took their first win of the night in the Longines Legend Diver Collection which posed an interesting situation with the bulk of the market being shared between four horses in Book Review, Withering, El Patriota and Quality Humour.
However flipping the script on all of that was the 4YO colt Franz Strauss who previously unraced on dirt came up with the win by a neck on Withering when it counted with a clear passage set through the middle by the talented O’Shea.
The Fawzi Nass trained Withering now has four second placings at Meydan from seven attempts and with rides like that from Adrie de Vries will find himself back in the winner’s circle sooner rather than later.
Race four saw the fillies stepping out and from a field of 15 all of the money was piled on the Saeed bin Suroor trained Mawj who from five starts has two wins and two placings showing her potential. Lining up odds on this was her UAE debut after taking Group Two glory and in her last start finishing third in a Group One, both in Newmarket. The money was right and the hoop Patrick Cosgrove showed his talent pulling her off the rail with 600m left to run as Alseyoob played pace setter up front moving up and shooting clear with 250m left to run in winning.
Prior to the race next best in the market was another Godolphin owned and bred filly in Dream of Love who while also on her UAE debut under William Buick passed most of the pack to throw down the challenge but finish second by the shortest of necks, with the judge still required.
“I started to ask her for an effort too early in all probability, especially on that ground, but she has a touch of class which has saved the day,” Cosgrove said of the winner.
An international first was seen and history made in the Zabeel Turf, race five, with the first Danish trained winner at the Dubai World Cup Carnival in Good Fortune prepped by Soren Jensen.
“I’m so happy to win here,” Jensen said of the moment.
The Saeed bin Suroor trained White Wolf stormed home hitting top gear but it was too little to late with the 5YO gelded son of Appel Au Maitre winning by a short head on his UAE debut.
With the shortest odds on the card Naval Power showed what all the hype was about with the 3YO colt prepared by Charlie Appleby teaming up with William Buick to take out the Listed Jumeirah Classic.
The homebred son of Teofilo now has six career starts for five wins which include three Listed victories and jockey Buick was pleased with the effort from his mount given the conditions for the meet.
“That ground was quite testing and it was a decent race as we know the second and third are good horses so we have to be very pleased. He will be better on faster ground.”
Seemar and O’Shea rounded out their doubles for the night with a win in the closing race, this time combing with Al Rashid Stables whose silks were carried to victory aboard Western Symphony.
The results from the card moved Seemar to second spot on the Championship ladder while solidifying O’Shea as the hoop to beat this season with 39 wins, 11 clear of the impressive Italian Antonio Fresu.