Military Law upset the form book in The Entisar, winning by three lengths in what was only his second start on dirt and in the UAE. The four-year-old may have been well beaten on his local debut in a 1600 metre handicap at Meydan a fortnight ago, but on this occasion was always travelling strongly under Antonio Fresu. With the benefit of that run under his belt, race fitness proved key as he powered past Gronkowski, runner-up in this year’s Dubai World Cup, who finished third and runner-up Saltarin Dubai, who tried valiantly to make all the running.
A second Listed race, the 1200 metre The Garhoud Sprint then followed and looked very competitive on paper but it proved to be a straightforward task for Ibn Malik. In the horse’s first run since finishing eighth in the $1.5 million Godolphin Mile in March, the winner made up for last year’s runner-up finish to Drafted who pulled out from this year’s edition earlier this week. Allowing the speed to unfold ahead of him, O’Neill kept his mount in the clear, going four-wide around the turn and quickly easing past his opposition en route to a comprehensive four and three-quarter length victory. The six year old homebred by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum was chased home by fellow Shadwell Stud colour-bearer Waady, who ran on strongly for trainer Doug Watson and jockey Sam Hitchcott, with Bochart third almost six lengths further back.
The hat-trick of victories for Watson started in the 2000 metre handicap, the Hamdan bin Mohammed Cruise Terminal, which was won stylishly by Grand Argentier after a typically confident ride by Pat Dobbs. Settled in third initially, the seven-year-old was always travelling strongly before being sent for home 300 metres out. Once in front, the result was never in doubt with Grand Argentier recording a fourth career victory and third in the UAE having also won over 1500m on soft turf in France back in February 2015. Firnas was second coming in two and a half lengths back, with joint favourite Mark Of Approval taking third.
Watson was soon celebrating a double in the Mina Hamriya, a 2200m metre handicap, as Sam Hitchcott guided Arch Gold to a close fought victory. The four-year-old had only been a winner just once previously, in a 1950m maiden at Jebel Ali last November, and had to work hard to repel his rivals. Hitchcott settled Arch Gold just off the speed before striking for home early in the straight and the horse ran on gamely to hold off the challenge of Quartier Francais to win by a neck. The leading pair were four lengths clear of Sa’ada in third at the wire.
Watson had to wait until the evenings finale, the Mina Rashid 1400 metre handicap, to earn the treble which came courtesy of the heavily favoured Midnight Sands. With Dobbs in the saddle, the winner was sat comfortably on the pace before powering clear and then holding off the hard charge of Gaudi in second to win by a neck, with Gervais two lengths back in third.
The meeting kicked off with the P&O Marinas 1600 metre maiden which produced a thrilling finish. Five of the eight runners were in the hunt entering the final 200 metres at which point Majestic Thunder hit the front under Richard Mullen. However, with challengers fronting up on all sides it was Celtic Prince who claimed the honours and a first winner this season for owner-trainer Rashed Bouresly, with it also being a first ever locally for his young Czech jockey, David Liska.
The juveniles also had their moment under the Meydan lights in the Jebel Ali Port, a 1600 metre conditions race. Richard Mullen and Satish Seemar, may have been out of luck with Majestic Thunder in the opener but they were soon rewarded with victory by Commanding who ran out the very easy winner. Just two weeks after a hard-luck loss over 1400 metres on debut, the winner was sent straight to the front by Mullen and the colt was never headed as it shot clear at the top of the straight. From here the result was never in doubt and the five length success from Dark Of Night and Sanad Libya in second and third was every bit as comfortable as it sounds.
The next racing at Meydan is on Thursday 19th December.