This lad was in good nick, Hitchcott says of Golden Goal

Jockey Sam Hitchcott rides Golden Goal to victory in Round 1 of the Al Maktoum Challenge at Meydan. — Dubai Racing Club
Jockey Sam Hitchcott rides Golden Goal to victory in Round 1 of the Al Maktoum Challenge at Meydan. — Dubai Racing Club

Published: Sat 15 Jan 2022, 11:59 PM

Champion trainer Doug Watson will take a tried and tested route to the Dubai World Cup meeting in March following Golden Goal’s impressive success in Round 1 of the Al Maktoum Challenge, Presented by Nakheel, the highlight of the opening day at the 2022 Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan Racecourse.

Having tracked the leader Eastern World for the first half of the 1600 metre trip Sam Hitchcott pushed Golden Goal to lead on the rail at the three-furlong post where he was soon joined by Godolphin Mile (Group 2) winner Secret Ambition and Tadhg O’Shea.

The pair began to pull away from the rest of their highly-regarded rivals but Hitchcott soon found himself in a stiff battle with the reigning UAE champion jockey.

However, it was Golden Goal who appeared to benefit from having a run under his belt as he did the better work in the closing stage to cross the line a length and a half ahead of Secret Ambition.

The unbeaten Kafoo ran a big race for William Buick to finish third, three and a quarter-lengths back, with Thegreatcollection staying on for fourth.

“You always have a plan in your head, fortunately, it worked out as I imagined,” said winning jockey Hitchcott.

“We had fitness on our side. Secret Ambition is probably fit but he’s running after a long time. This lad was in good nick, he’s a tough horse.”

Hitchcott hinted that the Burj Nahaar (Group 3) and Godolphin Mile (Group 2) would most likely be the next targets for the Dale Brennan-owned Golden Goal; the same races he contested last season.

Watson was delighted to win a third Al Maktoum Challenge, after Barbecue Eddie in 2013 and Kimbear in 2020, and said: “We knew after he ran in the Creek Mile that he usually needs his first run. Most of our horses are running off an eight to nine month layoff, so I thought he'd improve tonight.

“He had a good draw and Sam gave him a good ride and we were able to hold off Secret Ambition. It’s nice to get a win like that.”

Friday’s action produced a host of exciting races as the Carnival delivered on its international aspirations with wins for Uruguay and France and the now customary Godolphin double.

Cintra strikes again

Experienced Brazilian-born handler Antonio Cintra, who is based at Maronas in Uruguay, has brought a team of horses to Dubai and he picked up a second success of the season in the Festival City Stakes (Presented By Palm West Beach) with the smart Brazilian-bred Bet Law.

With stable jockey Vagner Leal doing the steering, the three-year-old Southern Hemisphere-bred made light of conceding four kilos to his rivals and soon led the 1200 contest. He pulled clear inside the final two furlongs to win by a comfortable margin of four and a quarter lengths from Tadhg O’Shea and Summer Is Tomorrow.

“He’s a nice horse; he has a lot of speed at the beginning and the final 400metres as well,” said Leal, who was notching a second Meydan success of the season, following that of Quality Boone last month.

“He’s still green, so we believe he can improve further.

“This is an amazing place. I enjoy riding here with some of the best jockeys in theworld.”

It's been seven years since Olivier Peslier last had a winner in the UAE, but the French ace made up for the delay when taking out the Group 2 Cape Verdi Stakes (Presented By Club Vista Mare), for fillies and mares, aboard the German-bred Pevensey Bay.

The six-year-old daughter of British stallion Footstepsinthesand, who is trained by French-based Japanese handler Hiroo Shimizu, came from the back of the field to defeat Norwegian hope Ascot Brass by three-quarters of a length. Godolphin’s

Wedding Dance was third, half a length further back.

“She’s like the French horses, very tough,” said Peslier. “I know her and I know that she has a very good turn of foot. The last two furlongs she was doing very well.

“It was very rough inside but when I came outside she changed her legs and she showed her acceleration.”

Bin Suroor opens account for new season

Earlier on, veteran Godolphin handler Saeed Bin Suroor got off the mark for the campaign when Dubai Future took the Listed Dubai Racing Club Classic under Pat Cosgrave. Second to Walton Street in this race a year ago, the six-year-old looks a better model this season and scooted to a five and a quarter length success over Group 3 winner Star Safari.

“The horse, he always tries hard,” said Bin Suroor, an eight-time champion trainer at the Carnival.

“This is his best trip, a mile and a half. He’s doing well, always working nicely in the morning.

“I want to see how he comes out of the race, but we’ll look at another Listed or aGroup race for him after this.”

More silverware for Appleby

Bin Suroor's Godolphin counterpart and dual Epsom Derby-winning handler Charlie Appleby did not leave the racecourse without his share of the silverware, saddling Sovereign Prince to win the first running of the Jumeirah Classic Trial (Presented By Palm Jumeirah).

Appleby, who was posting his fourth Meydan success of the season, commented: “He did a fair bit of leading at home so he’s kind of getting used to the others coming past him. So we felt tonight we need to have the cheekpieces on and it had the desired effect.

“He’s not got the profile of some of the three-year-olds we’ve brought in the past but as William [Buick] rightly said, he’s quite a genuine horse and he stuck to his guns tonight.

“They went a good gallop, but William had a lovely pitch in there and soon as the leader peeled off the rail it was a racing-winning move.”

The Carnival opened with Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 for Purebred Arabians which was won in imperious fashion by the very exciting Bahrain-owned Rb Rich Lyke Me, ridden by Dutch champion Adrie de Vries for trainer Fawzi Nass.

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