Pevensey Bay, ridden by Olivier Peslier, leads the pack during the Group 2 Cape Verdi at Meydan.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
Friday’s opening card of the 2022 Dubai World Cup Carnival (DWCC) was highlighted by the first rounds of the Al Maktoum Challenge, both over 1600m on the Meydan dirt track with pride of place going to the Thoroughbred version, won by Golden Goal, winning on the opening night of the carnival for the second consecutive year.
He actually established a 1400m dirt track record on the opening night last year, when it was a week later, and this was a career best effort under Sam Hitchcott, sporting the silks of Dale Brennan for Doug Watson to take the Thoroughbred Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge R1.
A gelded son of Dark Angel, the 8yo and Hitchcott took full advantage of their draw in stall one and disputed the lead pretty much throughout with Secret Ambition, the old adversary whom he chased home in the Godolphin Mile on the Dubai World Cup card last March.
The pair were locked in battle throughout the second half of the race, Hitchcott’s mount only stamping his authority on proceedings in the final 200m.
The Purebred equivalent which opened the card, over the same 1600m on dirt, the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R1was turned into a rout by RB Rich Lyke Me who was soon in front under Adrie de Vries and probably never saw any of his seven rivals thereafter.
Having just his second start for Fawzi Nass and in the colours of Victorious, who own the horse in partnership with the trainer, the 6yo entire had top class form in the US and remains unbeaten in the UAE having posted an equally emphatic success in the 1400m Group 2 Bani Yas on his local debut 57 days ago.
De Vries said: “We had a perfect draw and he was always travelling very strongly and was happy out in front.
The turf feature, the Group 2 Cape Verdi for fillies and mares, was also over 1600m was won in breathtaking fashion by Pevensey Bay who absolutely flew home in the final 300m to snatch victory under Olivier Peslier.
Trained in France by Japanese handler Hiroo Shimizu for Mme Julia & Jonathon Aisbitt, the 6yo Footstepsinthesand mare was winning for the fourth time but the first in such illustrious company.
Settled in midfield, on the rail, by Peslier she was switched out to challenge halfway up the straight before producing devastating acceleration over the closing stages.
Peslier said: “We did not break particularly well but the pace was slow which suited her as that is how we mostly race in France.
“I was not unduly worried and happy to take my time because I knew she has that turn of foot and she really picked up in style.”
For 3yos, the inaugural 1200m Festival City Stakes, a conditions race on the dirt, attracted a field of seven but only one ever really mattered with Bet Law probably never headed under Vagner Leal for trainer Antonio Cintra Pereira and owners Stud Crespi.
Winner of two of his three starts in South America, most recently a Listed contest at Maronas in Uruguay, the Universal colt was conceding weight to his six rivals but always looked in control to post an impressive victory.
Pereira said: “There is another similar race for him just for 3yos in a few weeks so we will probably aim for that.”
Over 2410m on the turf, the Listed Dubai Racing Club Classic looked competitive on paper with 15 runners but Godolphin’s Dubai Future proved far too good under Pat Cosgrave for Saeed bin Suroor.
Settled just behind what appeared a modest gallop, Cosgrave drove the 6yo Dubawi gelding to the front entering the final 400m after which they never looked likely to be caught.
The horse was winning for the fifth time and at a third consecutive Meydan carnival.
Also on turf, the 1400m Jumeirah Classic Trial, another conditions contest for 3yos, provided Godolphin a quick double, this time Charlie Appleby and William Buick combining with Sovereign Prince.
A gelded son of Dubawi, Appleby’s charge had won once from five starts in the UK, losing his maiden tag at the fifth attempt in a 1400m Epsom nursery at the end of September.
Always prominent, probably second throughout the first 1000m, Buick found a dream passage on the rail in the final 400m with his mount quickening nicely and the race in safekeeping from about 250m out.
The finale, the Dubai Dash, a 1000m turf sprint, was contested by a capacity field of 16 with Shadwell’s Mutaraffa coming out on top under Antomio Fresu for Musabbeh Al Mheiri.