Introduced in 2003 as a dress rehearsal for the Dubai World Cup card three weeks later, all seven races are mirror images of the races to be contested on that ultra-valuable occasion.
Three horses have won the Group 1 US$400,000 Al Maktoum Challenge R3 before following up in the $10 million Dubai World Cup and North America will try and emulate them after a smooth success in the big race of the day on dirt.
Drawn six in a field of 12, Richard Mullen’s mount was well away and ridden positively to get to the lead.
Two-time Group 1 winner Thunder Snow, last year’s UAE 2000 Guineas (G3) and UAE Derby (G2) winner, was among those tracking him throughout and challenged as the two turned for home, ultimately failing to close in on his rival.
In the end, North America was a 5¼ lengths winner to Thunder Snow with multiple G1-winning mare Furia Cruzada finishing a game third, 3¾ lengths farther back.
“Last time, when second to Thunder Snow (in Round 2), was probably a career-best and he has built on that again tonight,” said Mullen of North America.
“I just wanted to get him into a rhythm; not necessarily to lead, but we broke so well, I was able to get to the front and he was then always happy. Obviously the Dubai World Cup is going to be a stronger race, but he deserves his chance.”
In the main turf race, the 1800m Group 1 $300,000 Jebel Hatta, race-goers were treated to a thrilling finish as the lead change hands at least six times in the final 400m.
The telling challenge, though, came from Godolphin’s Blair House, who pounced inside the final 150m under James Doyle, riding for Charlie Appleby.
Saeed bin Suroor-trained Benbatl was a close second, with Mike de Kock-conditioned Janoobi a head astern in third.
Runner-up on his first two Carnival outings this year, Blair House had landed a handicap over this course and distance three weeks ago. The Group 1 $6 million Dubai Turf is the equivalent race on the big day.
Appleby, who won the 2016 Jebel Hatta with Tryster, said: “We knew this horse arrived here in good form and it looked a wide open race, as it transpired to be. I am sure we will have to come back with him in three weeks in what will be a stronger race but he owes us nothing now.”
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