De Vries settles for Meydan hat trick

Dutch great narrowly denied a memorable four-timer

Sari Dubai, ridden by Patrick Dobbs, wins the sixth race on Sunday at Meydan. — Photo by Neeraj Murali
Sari Dubai, ridden by Patrick Dobbs, wins the sixth race on Sunday at Meydan. — Photo by Neeraj Murali

Leslie Wilson Jr

Published: Sun 5 Feb 2023, 10:21 PM

Big-race jockey Adrie de Vries must surely have left Meydan Racecourse on Sunday evening with mixed feelings after narrowly missing out on a memorable four-timer.

The Dutch veteran, who even at the age of 54 is an extremely competitive rider, was at his brilliant best when partnering a hat trick of winners for Bahraini trainer-owner Fawzi Nass.

However, De Vries could well have claimed an unprecedented fourth win had his horse, Kanood, not encountered traffic problems in the Emirates Airline Handicap on turf.

The 1,800 metre contest, one of the feature events of the afternoon, was won by Sari Dubai, ridden by Pat Dobbs for former champion trainer Doug Watson.

But the horse doing the best work closer to the finish was the seven-year-old Kanood who had to weave his way through a maze of horses before he saw daylight. Once clear Kanood unleashed a blinding run, but it was a case of a little too late as the finish line came too soon.

De Vries, a late bloomer in the sport and 13-time champion jockey in his native Netherlands, has always said that he loves riding more than anything else and can’t imagine a life away from the saddle.

It’s always hard to handle defeat and given the passion that the Dutchman has for his sport, he must have felt the pain of losing a race that he probably should have won comfortably.

Nonetheless, he has the three wins to savour for the moment in what has been a reasonably rewarding season in the UAE where he has achieved 11 winners, 11 second and 11 third-place finishes.

Shake Hand, Sharar, and Go Soldier Go provided De Vries with his perfect hat trick winning consecutive races with astonishing ease.

“This looked a good opportunity on paper and the colt took full advantage and did it well,” he said of the first of his three winners.

Sharar, a three-year-old colt by 2017 American Horse of the Year Gun Runner, was perhaps the most impressive of the Nass-De Vries three-peat.

After stalking the pace for most of the 1800 metre trip, Sharar found another gear inside the final two furlongs and effortlessly pulled clear for a four-length victory.

"That was only his fourth start and just second on turf,” said De Vries. “He was very professional today and surprised me just how well he won.”

Meanwhile, Pat Dobbs, an Irish jockey who is very much at home at Meydan Racecourse, helped himself to a second success on the day when teaming up with Exciting Days to win the concluding Emirates Airline handicap over 1,800 metres on turf.

The preceding race, the Emirates SkyCargo handicap over six furlongs on turf, was there for the taking for the Rashed Bouresly-trained Migyas, who sprinted to victory over Harvest Gold and Dubai World Cup-winning rider Mickael Barzalona.

Kuwaiti-native Bouresly has been a popular figure on the UAE tracks over the past decade or so having first started as an owner and subsequently taking on training duties himself.

He has a skill for getting the most out of horses by racing them sparingly and with specific targets in mind.

An eight-year-old gelded son of Oasis Dream, who won the Cartier Racing Award for European Sprint Champion in 2003 and was bred by Shadwell, had previously scored just once at Sharjah.

Earlier, First Winter and Gabriel Malune won the Arabian Adventures handicap which produced the best finish of the day with three horses battling to the line.

However, it was First Winter who narrowly held on to score from South American challenger El Patriota and Aeonian.

“Dropping him to 1600m was a good move and I was always happy behind the leaders,” said Malune. “He then quickened well and was brave at the end.”

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