The 2015 Meydan Carnival continues this evening with arguably the strongest card of the year so far.
With a trio of Group Three contests supported by four ultra competitive handicaps, the card is headlined by the UAE 2000 Guineas.
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Run over 1600m on the dirt and, certainly not for the first time, the race is likely to be dominated by Godolphin and South African Mike De Kock.
The latter, seeking a record sixth win in the contest, saddles two with stable jockey, Christophe Soumillon, again riding Ajwad who chased home stable companion, Mubtaahij, in the 1400m trial a month ago.
That was a second local win for De Kock’s charge who had earlier won a maiden (notably against his elders) on his local debut over this 1600m course and distance.
The trainer said: “They are two nice horses. Mubtaahij was always a nice prospect and has done really well since he arrived here.
“We thought the 1600m over which he won his maiden was short enough so we were delighted when he won over 1400m. Ajwad chased him home on his first start of the year and he needed the run so should be competitive again.”
Heading the opposition would appear to be Godolphin’s Maftool, third in the trial four weeks ago when he lost any serious chance by missing the break badly.
His trainer, Saeed bin Suroor, seeking a fifth win in the race, said: “He actually ran very well last time after a bad start to the race. He has been breaking well from the stalls at home in the interim and hopefully the visor will help.”
Bin Suroor’s charge was a Group Three winner at Kempton in England last year when chased home by Burnt Sugar, trained by Richard Hannon.
The 1200m Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint looks ultra competitive and, among the 10 declared, are two previous winners of the Group 1 Golden Shaheen on Dubai World Cup night.
Both Krypton Factor (2011) and Reynaldothewizard (2013) achieved those big wins on the previous Tapeta surface but the latter has at least proved himself over course and distance.
The mount of Richard Mullen, he is trained by Satish Seemar and was an impressive winner of the Listed Dubawi Stakes just four weeks ago.
Beat Baby and Rafeej are the other course and distance winners in the field.
The penultimate event, the 1600m Firebreak Stakes, is the third dirt Group Three on the card and has proven in the past to be a race to keep a close eye on with regards to the Godolphin Mile on Dubai World Cup night.
Last year it was won by Variety Club who went on to glory on the big night, as did Godolphin’s Skysurfers in 2011.
Godolphin’s Fencing, handled by Charlie Appleby, the De Kock-trained Darwin and course and distance winner, Tamarkuz, trained by Musabah Al Muhairi for Sheikh Hamdan, could be the trio to concentrate on.
Trainer Musabah Al Muhairi was the man to follow at Jebel Ali yesterday, saddling half of the six winners, including Silver Galaxy, the impressive winner of the featured 1,950m conditions race.
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Connections identified this as a suitable ‘interim’ race before the rearranged Jebel Ali Mile in two weeks’ time and winning jockey Silvestre De Sousa said: I would think the Jebel Ali Mile is his next planned outing but you have to remember this horse had never raced before November end last year.
“All he has done is improve and he is definitely on an upward curve. The Jebel Ali Mile is still an obvious target but, personally, I would love to try him on turf at Meydan during the Carnival.”
De Sousa was also in the saddle on the same trainer’s Absolute Sway, comfortable winner of the 1,600m maiden.
The trainer’s treble was completed in the concluding 1,200m handicap, with De Sousa making the wrong choice, finishing only seventh on Art Wave, beaten three lengths by stable companion Sixty Minutes under Oscar Urbina.
Elsewhere on the card, ‘the home team’ of Sheikh Ahmed (racecourse patron), his trainer, Dhruba Selvaratnam and stable jockey Oisin Murphy registered a double. Leading the way was Canwinn in the opening 1,600m handicap.
That was followed by the victory of Gobooll in the same 1,400m handicap he was third in last year.
Murphy said: “The horses are really starting to run into form now and we were unlucky not to have a Carnival winner at Meydan yesterday when Sholaan and Master Of War ran so well when second and third in the sprint.
“Forjaat won really well at Abu Dhabi on Sunday so hopefully we can finish the season strongly.
“Gobooll has been threatening a big performance and, basically, everything went right today.”
An 1,800m handicap went to Mutual Force, ridden by apprentice Saeed Al Mazrouei for trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe.
The McLaren Silver Cup, as part of the Dubai Polo Gold Cup, comes to a thrilling conclusion this weekend when the two teams remaining duel in the final.
To be held on Friday at Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club, under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, the final will feature Ghantoot Polo against Desert Palm 2 for the silverware.
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A picnic area on the lawn will allow visitors to enjoy their own food, while watching the competition. There will be plenty of entertainment in the kids zone, with a fashion show, cheerleading performers and music by local and international DJs.
Along with music, the setting will have a tent with delicious cuisines in an international buffet lunch, along with a range of beverages. All of that comes with a great view of the polo action.
A shuttle bus will run from Habtoor Grand Hotel to the Polo Club every hour from 11:00 to 14:00 and back at 20:00, 21:00 and 22:00.
The Silver Cup commenced on January 23 as 10 teams battled in the first stage with handicaps up to 18 goals. Desert Palm 2 stormed through the field unbeaten, including an 8-7 victory over Ghantoot Polo.
In the semi-finals, both teams edged their competition by one goal, with Desert Palm defeating Bin Drai Polo 7-6 and Ghantoot Polo beating Zedan Polo 9-8.
Diego Cavangah scored the winner for Desert Palm 2, who will attempt to defend their 2014 title.
For Ghantoot Polo, Alejandro Muzzio provided the clincher to get past previously flawless Zedan Polo.
Bin Drai Polo and Zedan Polo will play ahead of the final in the third-place match.
The other teams that took part in the tournament included Desert Palm 1, Mahra Polo, Habtoor Polo, UAE Polo, Abu Dhabi, Edrees Polo.
The gates, VIP and Gold Lounge will open at noon, with the international buffet running until 16:00. The sub-final will take place at 14:00, followed by the final at 16:00.
The entrance fee for the public picnic area is Dh150 and Dh1,800 for VIP.
For more information, visit the Dubai Polo Gold Cup’s website www.dubaipologoldcup.com, where a live stream can be viewed, or their Facebook page.