The opening night of the 2019 Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan, UAE, more than lived up to expectations as Satish Seemar and Richard Mullen once again took out the Dubawi Stakes whilst Saeed bin Suroor and Christophe Soumillon claimed the Singspiel Stakes.
Bin Suroor and Soumillon were to claim a double on the first of the ten race meetings of this year’s Dubai World Cup Carnival which runs from January to March, ahead of the season-ending Dubai World Cup meeting which this year will be on Saturday 30 March.
With a lot of racing to unfold before then and more than US$10 m in prize money across those ten meetings, the first of the featured races was the Dubawi Stakes presented by Longines Ladies Master Collection in which Seemar and Mullen have formidable record. Having won the race four times with UAE sprint legend Reynaldothewizard, they made it a fifth success this time with Raven’s Corner, who beat the Doug Watson-trained favourite Drafted .
Sporting the colours of syndicate Touch Gold Racing, who own the 6-year-old gelded son of Raven’s Pass in partnership with Sean Ewing, the winner has not always been straightforward in the starting stalls. However, unlike his seasonal debut of a fourth place finish in the Garhoud Sprint over the same course and distance, he did not miss the break on this occasion and was always travelling well.
Mullen was his ever-patient self with his mount and having stalked the frantic early gallop of dictated by My Catch and High on Life, Raven’s Corner was sent to the lead 300 metres from the line and was never going to be caught. Race favourite Drafted closed fiercely up the rail under Sam Hitchcott after a troubled trip but Raven’s Corner was a comfortable winner by a length and three-quarters.
The Singspiel Stakes presented by the Longines V H P Collection had no less than five contenders from Godolphin in the 16 strong field and it was the Bin Suroor-trained Dream Castle who came in ahead of stablemate Racing History to take the $200,000 contest.
The 1800 metre course and distance is a marker for the $6 million Dubai Turf and the winner showed his credentials in an impressive success. On what was his 11th career start, Dream Castle travelled powerfully in the middle of the field and was unleashed by Soumillon just as Grade 1 winning favourite Deauville began to falter. The pair sprinted clear with just over 200 metres to run, going on to win by a length and a half; Racing History taking second by a head from Salsabeel
Another star from the Bin Suroor yard, Team Talk finished fourth, while Charlie Appleby-trained Salsabeel and Bay of Poets finished third and fifth respectively. The most fancied and highly regarded of the Godolphin contignent, the Appleby-trained Key Victory, was a disappointment and failed to factor when finishing in 12th place.
That completed a double for Bin Suroor and Soumillon as they earlier took out the very first race of the 2019 carnival, the Longines Gents Record Collection Handicap.
Run over a distance of 2410 metres, it was won impressively by Bin Battuta who settled well behind the leaders under Soumillon before shooting clear 300 metres out.
The pair were chased home by the same owner’s Ispolini, trained by Charlie Appleby but the success by a length and a half was comfortable as it was impressive for what was the horse’s fourth career victory on his ninth outing who has now won over 1200, 2000 and 2400 metre distances.
Won in each of the last three years for His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum by the now sadly-deceased Ertijaal, the Longines Ladies Record Collection Handicap was again won by the owner with Australian-trained Faatinah.
From a 12 strong field, the David Hayes-trained winner under the owner’s retained jockey Jim Crowley ran on strongly on the turf to deny the race favourite the Irish-trained Hit the Bid, coming home two and half lengths clear, with Ibn Malik a further two lengths adrift in third.
The UAE 1000 Guineas Trial presented by the Longines La Grande Classique produced an unlikely yet dominant winner in the shape of Al Hayette, who finished fast to win her second race in 14 days over the Meydan dirt.
Having broken her maiden over 1600 metres just before Christmas, the daughter of Union Rags – owned and trained by Ismail Mohammed and under the guidance of jockey Fabrice Veron – came in two lengths clear of favourite Nashirah in second and Muthhila in third.
A late charge by the George Scott-trained Another Batt took out the concluding Longines Master Collection Moon Phase Handicap, in doing so denying a treble for Godolphin, Bin Suroor and Soumillon.
The latter’s Top Score hit the front about 350 metres from home in the 1400 metre contest on the turf but they had no answer to the late challenge of Another Batt, a first UAE runner for young trainer Scott, who is based in Newmarket, UK. Ridden by Connor Beasley, the four-year-old owned by Excel Racing, whose members include Southampton footballer Charlie Austin, came in a length clear of Soumillon on race favourite Top Score, with Ekhtiyaar claiming third a further two lengths back.
The next racing at Meydan is this Saturday, 5 January, ahead of the second Dubai World Cup Carnival meeting of the season next Thursday, 10 January.