The opening night of the 2019 Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan featured the six-furlong Dubawi Stakes and 1 1/8-mile Singspiel Stakes—both Group 3 and worth $200,000—with each providing thrilling stretch runs and popular victories. The evening also featured three wide-open, lucrative handicaps on turf and the UAE 1000 Guineas Trial for newly turned 3-year-old fillies.
Satish Seemar and Richard Mullen have a formidable record in the Dubawi (G3), having won the race four times with UAE sprint legend Reynaldothewizard. They landed a fifth, this time with Raven's Corner, who bested Doug Watson-trained favorite Drafted by 1¾ lengths.
Sporting the colors of syndicate Touch Gold Racing, who own the 6-year-old gelded son of Raven's Pass in partnership with Sean Ewing, Raven's Corner has not always been straightforward in the starting stalls. Unlike his seasonal debut, when fourth in the Garhoud Sprint (Listed) over the same course and distance, he did not miss the break and was always travelling well. Sent to the lead 300 meters out, having stalked the frantic early gallop of :23.84 and :47.12 dictated by My Catch and High on Life, he was never going to be caught by Drafted, who closed fiercely up the rail under Sam Hitchcott after a troubled trip. Already the course record holder at seven furlongs, he finished up the six furlong test in 1:11.68. The son of Raven's Pass now holds a record of 5-4-1 from 16 starts.
“It's fantastic,” said Mike Kaye, principal of Touch Gold Racing. “We've been knocking on the door. Every time we have run in graded races, we tend to get a wide stall. We thought we had him absolutely perfect today and as good as we've ever had him. He travelled like much the best horse. They went super-quick on quite a slow track and he got a little tired at the end, but he's won quite convincingly. It's pleasing. We'll see how he comes out, but the (Group 3) Al Shindagha (Sprint) would be the plan. If we give him a little break, it would be between that and the Dubai Golden Shaheen (on Mar. 30).”
“Exactly what we were saying before the race,” Seemar added. “If everything goes just perfect for him, which it did today, this is who he is. He's had his problems with this and that, but everything was right for him today. He has proven before by breaking a track record for seven (furlongs last February) that he's a good horse and today he's back. He's going to go step-by-step, but the (Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint) is likely.”
Mullen said: “A lot of work has gone behind the scenes. He is a horse who has to have things nice and calm; no distractions, no changes. That is why I have not sat on him this year, I just said to the boss, leave Santiago (to ride him); he knows him well. I just jumped on him on race day. It probably helped it was a small field and we were able to load last. You know he is a horse who has a little quirk, it goes from the elusive quality bred into them, but he is extremely talented and we always felt it.
“He is a very fast horse. He does things his own way and he likes to be calm and relaxed. He is ultra-talented, as we saw him there. Drafted is probably the benchmark for our local sprinters and he is a very talented horse and luckily we beat him today. I think they are two of the best sprinters on dirt in the UAE at the moment, and they are going to contest many battles in the months to come.”
Watson, who also trains Group 3 winner My Catch, was pleased with Drafted's performance. “My Catch; I'm not quite sure what happened with him. Drafted, he's impressing me every time. He's in with a shot in every race and horses don't close like that here. He made up tons of lengths in that last (150m). He's a proper horse.”
“It was a good run; bad trip. Plain and simple,” Hitchcott added.
“I was forced to go a little quicker than I wanted earlier on,” said Pat Dobbs, who rode My Catch, who was last seen finishing eighth in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1). “But once he got to traveling really sweet, he just got a bit tired up the straight. He will improve for the run.”
When Grade 1-winning favorite Deauville began to falter in the lane of the Group 3 Singspiel Stakes, the race immediately opened up to any horse with a proper closing kick. Luckily for Godolphin, it had at least five of those prospects and proceeded to sweet the first five spots in the $200,000 affair, led by the Saeed bin Suroor-trained duo of Dream Castle and Racing History. The former, with Christophe Soumillon aboard, won by a clear 1½ lengths in a time of 1:49.40 for the 1 1/8-mile course and distance prep for the $6 million Dubai Turf sponsored by DP World (G1) on Dubai World Cup night (Mar. 30). Another from the Bin Suroor yard, Team Talk finished fourth, while Charlie Appleby-conditioned Salsabeel and Bay of Poets finished third and fifth. The highest regarded of the Godolphin sextet, Appleby-trained Key Victory, failed to factor and finished 12th of the 16.
A homebred 5-year-old son of Frankel, Dream Castle had been gelded since last seen in public and was actually winning for the first time since making a successful debut as a 3-year-old at Doncaster in April 2017, after which he was fifth in the 2000 Guineas (G1). On what was his 11th career start, he traveled powerfully in the middle of the field before being unleashed by Soumillon with the pair sprinting clear with just over 200 meters to run, completing doubles for 'Team Thunder Snow.'
“Yes I talked with Pat Cosgrave a lot before the race because he knows the horse better than any other jockey,” Soumillon said. “He told me the horse has changed a lot this year and was much more settled in the morning track-work. I could feel it straight when I was going down the start, and he was really settling down and just inside the gate he was a bit stressed. I was happy everybody went in quickly, because he was close to jumping somewhere in there. When the gates opened, he was settling down very easily. I got a perfect race just behind the lead and I came a bit wide and we didn't go very fast, so I had to ask him to quicken quite well by himself in the middle of the track. He gave me a very good effort. The big race for him now will probably be the (Dubai) Turf over the same distance. I am sure he can run between seven furlongs and (nine furlongs), without a problem. It just depends on the pace.”
“He got a really soft time up front and ran to suit himself,” said Luke Morris, who rode Deauville to an 11th-place finish for new trainer Fawzi Nass (previously trained by Aidan O'Brien). “He didn't run since September, so he needed the run.”
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