Doyle lights up Carnival at majestic Meydan

Big-race jockey claims a hat-trick including big win aboard Algiers in the featured Al Maktoum Challenge

Algiers wins the Al Maktoum Challenge to set up a Carnival hat trick for big-race jockey James Doyle at Meydan Racecourse on Friday. — DHRIC
Algiers wins the Al Maktoum Challenge to set up a Carnival hat trick for big-race jockey James Doyle at Meydan Racecourse on Friday. — DHRIC

Leslie Wilson Jr

Published: Fri 6 Jan 2023, 10:05 PM

The Al Maktoum Challenge (R1) is a race series of major significance and genuine Dubai World Cup pointers and Algiers must surely have put himself in the big picture following an emphatic victory in Friday’s renewal of the historic mile contest.

With Godolphin’s James Doyle doing the steering aboard the six-year-old son of late superstar stallion Shamardal, Algiers hit the front approaching the final two furlongs of the 1,600 metre race and galloped strongly to score by six and a half lengths.

Discovery Island, the mount of Antonio Fresu ran, on for second with the Doug Watson-trained Everfast hanging on for third.

Doyle, who has ridden his fair share of quality, was full of praise for the winner who is trained by Simon Crisford, a highly respected figure in racing circles, thanks to his 12-year tenure as the racing manager of the powerful Dubai-owned Godolphin stables.

“He’s a tough old boy,” said Doyle who would go on to complete a big-race treble on the opening day of the 2023 Dubai World Cup Carnival.

“He’s shown that he’s a pretty high-quality horse,” said Doyle. “You do need the stamina in your legs over here, even over a mile but he travelled super. The only worry was the wide draw (10 ) but we kept his face clean and we know he stays further. So he didn’t end up doing too much.”

Trainer Simon Crisgord and the connections of Algiers on the podium at Meydan Racecourse. — DHRIC
Trainer Simon Crisgord and the connections of Algiers on the podium at Meydan Racecourse. — DHRIC

The quality of the Al Maktoum contest is best illustrated by the presence of several star contenders including two veteran former race winners, Kimber (Round 1 2020) and Capezzano (Round 3, 2019), and four-time Meydan dirt scorer Thegreatcollection.

A half-hour later Doyle was back in the winner’s enclosure at Meydan after riding Al Shuail to victory in the Group 2 Al Fahidi fort, to help record-breaking handler Charlie Appleby open his Carnival account which he went on to double when Lazuli won the concluding Ertijaal Dubai Dash.

Meanwhile, the Carnival’s widespread international appeal was brought to the fore with big wins for horses trained in the UK and South America.

Enemy, raced by one of Britain’s most travelled and successful dual-discipline handlers, Ian Williams, ran out an impressive winner of the 2,400 metre Dubai Racing Club Classic Presented by Zabeel Feed before Brazilian-bred Long Kiss upstaged some classy types to capture the 1,400 metre Jumeirah Classic Trial Presented by Zabeel Feed.

This was only the second running of the trial that is the first part of an exciting four-race Jumeirah Series which is dedicated to the Classic generation.

Ridden with aplomb by 2022 Epsom Derby-winning jockey Richard Kingscote, Enemy scored by a length from the ex-Godolphin trainee New Comedy.

Hikesh Parmar, representing the connections, said: “He’s been training well and everything just fell into place. Richard rode him to perfection. That was a very gutsy performance.”

Despite the significant success of Long Kiss in a competitive event like the Jumeirah Classic Trial, trainer Julio Olascoaga did not allow himself to get carried away.

“That was a very good performance,” he said. “But these are young horses who need a lot of nurturing. One thing is we know that he can act of both sand and turf, having won an earlier start here at Meydan on the dirt.

“So that gives us a couple of options for his next races, but the most important thing is to see how he comes out of this race before we make plans for the future. But we’re very happy with this win.”

Zabeel Stables have a knack for keeping older horses ticking and the fact was driven home in no uncertain fashion by Switzerland, a nine-year-old son of Speightstown, who streaked home a convincing winner of the Group 3 Dubawi Stakes Sponsored by Zabeel Feed.

The winner was ridden with an air of confidence by ten-time UAE champion jockey Tadhg O’Shea to land the 1,200 contest by a length and a half from Mubakker, the mount of Dane O’Neill.

Last season Switzerland reached the pinnacle of his career when it won the prestigious Dubai Golden Shaheen to give trainer Bhupat Seemar a career-first Group 1 success, and the handler was quick to lavish praise on his stable star.

“When you have a horse like Switzerland it makes your job a little bit easier,” said the reigning UAE champion trainer, “I was only a bit afraid because he’s nine years old and I was wondering whether the old legs still had some speed. But look he’s a brilliant horse that makes us all look good.

"Yes, we are very pleased with him. He’s got class and made it look easy.”

The Carnival got off to a flyer when Rb Rich Lyke Me bounced back from a dull 2021-2022 season to win the Purebred Arabian version of the Al Maktoum Challenge (G1) for Bahraini trainer Fawzi Nass.

More news from Sports