Racing at Meydan on Saturday officially featured The District One Magnificent Stretch, a one-mile turf handicap, but the main event was upstaged from the outset when H And B's Moshaher decimated a group of 3-year-old maidens with UAE Derby dreams in the opener. The one-mile affair, titled the District One Panorama Win, saw the Doug Watson-trained son of two-time Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile winner Goldencents track the leaders like a seasoned older horse before toying with his foes in the straight. Kept lightly to task, he finished up the race in 1:40.81, while finishing 6¼ lengths clear of the well-bred duo of Lacienegaboulevard and Raayan.
An $87,000 OBS April 2-year-old purchase and out of a half-sister to multiple Grade 1 winner Fleet Renee, Moshaher will now move on to the rich Dubai World Cup Carnival 3-year-old stakes program that culminates with the world's richest dirt derby, the $2.5 million UAE Derby (G2). It was a second debut winner for the 'Classic' generation for the owner after their Al Seel Legacy's made a victorious start to his career a fortnight ago.
“We were very hopeful coming into the race, because his work at home has been exceptional, but you just never know if they will reproduce that,” Watson said. “He did not trial as he arrived a bit late, but we did work him out of the gates and he did everything right. We think he is a nice horse, so it is nice to see him win like that first time out. Hopefully, there is more to come with the (Group 3, $250,000) UAE 2000 Guineas (on Feb. 7) his next race.”
In the previously scheduled feature, Musabbeh Al Mheiri-trained Azmaam proved simply too good for his rivals, wearing down Ajwad in the final furlong to win by a measured 1½ lengths. Jim Crowley was riding for his main employer, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Crowley said: “That was actually the first time I have ridden him, but the trainer was pretty confident and he is a horse who tends to finish his races strongly, so I was happy to take my time. He was not the best away and I had to hassle him a bit early on, but after that he has carried me there nicely before quickening well.”
Surely one of the gamest horses trained locally, Heraldic, ideally drawn in stall three, was never headed in the 2200m dirt handicap, the District One Landmark Award, responding to the urgings of Richard Mullen to hold off Hucklebuck, who tried valiantly to get past throughout the duration of the straight. Fresh off
Mullen said: “This horse is just so genuine and does not want to be passed, as he showed last time, and again today. That was another very gutsy effort and he is a credit to Satish and the whole team.”
Owners, trainer and jockey doubled up with arguably the easiest winner of the night, Bochart, who was sent straight to the front by Mullen in a 1400m dirt handicap, the District One Elegance Stretch Cup, and had the race won from the moment they shot clear early in the straight. A course and distance winner in November, in similar fashion, the 6-year-old Dubawi gelding carried top weight of 62 kg and appears to be a possible Carnival player.
Mullen said: “That was a career-best from him and that was always the plan, to go forward and give him a breather, then go for home. When I asked him, he quickened nicely. It would be nice to get him into the Carnival.”
Out of luck with Hucklebuck, trainer Ahmad bin Harmash was soon celebrating victory with the well-deserved success of Rua Augusta in the following 1600m turf maiden, the District One World Class Run. A 4-year-old gelded son of Arch, he was running for the 12th time in the UAE and 15th overall. With several good efforts in defeat on his resume, including finishing third in last year's Al Bastakiya (Listed) on Super Saturday, he battled on strongly to deny Paleolithic; asserting clearly that this is his preferred surface.
Bentley, riding his first winner of the UAE season on just his second mount, said: “He has really stuck his head out and seemed to appreciate being back on the turf, as he probably does not relish the kickback on the dirt surfaces. There are not many spare rides around this season with so many good jockeys here, but hopefully I will pick up more mounts.”
Caught close home on his previous two outings, when third over 1600m and second over 1200m, both at Meydan, Pirate's Cove was never headed in the 1200m dirt handicap—the District One Picturesque Run—to gain a popular victory for trainer Sandeep Jadhav and owner Hamad Rashed bin Ghadayer. Reunited with Mickael Barzalona, aboard for the only previous local victory registered by the 6-year-old gelded son of Dubawi, over the same course and distance last January, he was able to track across from his middle draw to get the rail and the lead. Stalked by Alraased, he was kicked clear by Barzalona about 250m out, after which they never appeared likely to be caught.
Jadhav said: “He has been so unlucky the last twice when only caught close home, so he deserved that and I am delighted for him and his owner. Full credit to Mickael, who is a world-class jockey and has given him the perfect ride from the front.”
The finale, the District One Crystal Lagoon Trophy, a 2000m turf handicap, Barzalona and mount Rio Tigre roared home a determined winner over Crowley and Mudaarab. The winner is owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum and trained by Jadhav—providing doubles for the jockey-trainer combination. It was the son of Teofilo's third win of the UAE 2018-19 season.
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