The Red Devils had lost to Brighton last weekend
Persistent rains created a slew of challenges for racegoers heading to Meydan Racecourse for the first meeting of the New Year on Saturday but once they arrived there they were served up a feast of high-quality racing that included the UAE 1,000 Guineas Trial.
Bahraini raider Shahama delivered the star performance of the evening when winning the UAE 1,000 Guineas Trial resolutely in the hands of the very capable Adrie de Vries.
Trained by Faqzi Nass, the Munnings filly by five-time Grade 1 winner Lookin At Lucky, may not have had it as easy as in her first start where she won by 9 lengths, but she still came home a comfortable 2 ½ length winner over Shinyar and Patrick Cosgrave.
Having raced in mid-division early in the 1,400 metre trip, Shahama appeared to find herself with traffic issues approaching the final two furlongs of the race. But in a matter of strides, she used her superior turn of foot to burst clear for a very impressive victory.
De Vries, a 12-time champion in his native Netherlands, was full of praise for the winner of a $450,000 purchase at the Ocala Sales in April, said: “She’s so professional. Going down today I was a bit worried at how quiet she was.
“She had an easy run first time out but you never know how these youngsters are going to handle it on their second start. But she took it well and she did this nicely.
“I was in the pocket for a little while, but I was glad things didn’t go too smoothly today because she learned something today,” he added. “She’s got that turn of foot and keeps going. An extra furlong will only suit her. She’s a very exciting horse.”
Saturday’s Meydan card, the run on the new UAE weekend, also featured the Al Garhoud Sprint, the first race in a series that lead up to the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen, one of the most prestigious sprint races in the world..
Switzerland aces Al Garhoud Sprint
And it went to the Bjupat Seemar-trained Switzerland, who was ridden with confidence by stable-jockey Tadhg O’Shea to win the 1m200 metre dirt contest by a wide margin of 9 ¼ lengths from stable companion Gladiator King, the 2020 winner of the Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint.
An eight-year-old son of Speightstown Switzerland showed that he retains the zest of racing when hitting the front at the 400 metre marker and stretching out to win in imperious fashion.
“He’s a horse with a lot of class,” said O’Shea, the multiple UAE champion jockey. “He’s very, very good fresh. He’s won on sloppy ground in America so this was not an issue.
“The race tied up nicely, I just followed the main danger, who I thought was Gladiator King, but one I asked him he was electric,” added the Irish rider.
“Touch wood he’s still fit as he’s older now.”
Seemar, who was completing a meet double with stable jockey O; Shea, having earlier won the Al Jadaf Mile with Conglomerate, was delighted with Switzerland’s performance.
That was very pleasing and we hoped for a good effort because he had been working very well,” said the Zabeel Stables handler. “We have learned a lot about him after just three runs for us last season.
“Gladiator King has also run a very big race so we can only be delighted with the whole race.”
Turf races switched to dirt due to rain
All the day’s turf races were switched to dirt due to the rains including the 2000m Nad Al Sheba Classic, which was won by Godolphin’s Desert Peace racing out of 2021 British Champion Trainer Charlie Appleby’s Al Marmoom Stables in Dubai.
Ridden by William Buick, the Curlin colt held on resolutely to deny Godolphin's Big Town, who ran on strongly for jockey Patrick Cosgrave.
The New Year’s meeting kicked off with a pair of 1400m Purebred Arabian maidens, which were split into two divisions.
The first produced a close finish where Al Khaleejy and Omani apprentice Abdul Aziz Al Balushi prevailed by a neck from the Royston Ffrench-powered JAP Hadad.
The second division fell to the Royal Cavalry of Oman-bred Fakhr who was given a peach of a ride by Antonio Fresu to see off Maahya by a neck.
Maiden Meydan success for Omani handler Al Hadhrami
It was the first Meydan winner for Omani handler Ibrahim Al Hadhrami and the Omani Royal Cavalry, whose son, Alwarith Al Hadhrami said: “We have had many seconds here but that is great to get a first finally at Meydan.
“This is a nice horse with whom we have taken a while to lose that maiden tag with. Hopefully, now he can progress.”
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