Solid Gold as Manama maintains perfect record

Manama Gold has been one of the stars of the Dubai season so far and Fawzi Nass’s filly took her unbeaten record to three with victory in the G3 UAE Oaks [Presented by Longines] at Meydan on Friday night.

Ridden by Adrie De Vries, the daughter of Star Guitar disputed the pace along the rail and went clear in the straight, but then had to be kept up to her work to see off Mizzyaan, who was closing again at the line.

“I’m very pleased; I have a lot to do with her in the mornings and she’s a very special filly,” said De Vries. “At the moment, I think she’s not at her best – she’s growing a lot - but she has a lot of class.

“I didn’t really have a plan to make [the running] but no-one really wanted it. You can see when she gets in front she pricks her ears. I think she’ll be a better filly next year, but I’ll leave it to Fawzi and [owner] Sheikh Nasser to make a plan.”

Godolphin have a formidable record in the G2 Balanchine [presented by Longines] and  collected a tenth win in the 1800metre turf race – but not with the filly most expected.

Charlie Appleby’s Sapphire Seas was favourite but she couldn’t go with stablemate English Rose in the closing stages; Mickael Barzalona’s mount having had the benefit of a prep run in the Cape Verdi. The Frankel filly took her career record to three from four with a comfortable two and a half-length success.

“We went a good gallop and my filly travelled well from the beginning,” said Barzalona after his first win in this race. “It went well for us as the horse to beat was just in front of us. Maybe she was a bit fitter today.”

Appleby added: “Mentally she’s come forward as she was a bit keen first time out. She had the race under her belt and this is probably her ideal trip.

“We haven’t quite firmed up a plan for these fillies yet. This filly could join [Cape Verdi winner] Silver Lady on a trip to America for the Keeneland meet in April.”

There was a similar set of circumstances in the second Group 2 of the night, when Appleby second string Naval Power took the 1800metre Singspiel Stakes [presented by Longines].

Off the track for more than a year, Barzalona kept the four-year-old clear of some scrimmaging close home and he ran out the emphatic two length winner over San Donato, with Sean an unlucky in running third.

“I found a good spot very easily and in the end he showed plenty of quality,” said Barzalona. “It was a huge performance and I’m sure for Charlie and the team to get him ready for this race after a break, they must have expected something.”

Appleby collected a treble when Siskany picked up a tenth career win in the G3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy, making history in the process.

In backing up his 2023 win in this race, the six-year-old became the first horse to win it twice and earned his berth in the G2 Dubai Gold Cup, in which he finished second last year. It was a narrow success in the end for William Buick’s mount, who crossed the line a diminishing length ahead of Sea Stone.

“He’s just a lovely horse who has been around for a while now. He’s very predictable: he turns up, does his best and seems to excel here at Meydan,” said Buick.

“He’s probably a horse who enjoys having targets, but he knows where the line is here, so I just have to point and shoot.”

Killer Collects Derby Ticket

There was an epic dual in the Listed Al Bastakiya [Presented by Longines], where Killer Collect had to be extremely tough to see off the persistent Auto Bahn after a two-furlong battle.

Bhupat Seemar’s colt, ridden by Tadhg O’Shea, had the benefit of both the rail and a four and a half kilo weight break, but still had to dig deep to maintain his slender lead, winning by a neck.

“I was devastated the last time when nothing went right in the Guineas after he fluffed his lines in the gates,” said O’Shea. “He’s a lovely horse, I’ve loved him from day one, even when he was unsold at the sale here – I rang Michael Burke [owner] and luckily he decided to buy him.

“He’s got the perfect gap now; five weeks, so all roads lead to the [G2 UAE] Derby on World Cup night.”

Out of luck with Auto Bahn, trainer Julio Olascoaga gained recompense later on when Desert Peace won the Longines Spirit Flyback Handicap, over a mile on dirt.

A winner here twice when in the care of Charlie Appleby, the seven-year-old came from the clouds for this sixth career success, his run timed perfectly by Jose Da Silva for a neck victory over Al Jaddaf.

Another who loves Meydan is Topper Bill and he picked up his third win over the straight turf track – but first since 2021 – in the opening Longines Mini Dolce Vita Handicap, over 1000metres.

Ridden by apprentice Qais Al Busadi, the Musabbeh Al Mheiri-trained six-year-old hit the lead at the 400metre marker and was always holding favourite Vespasian; running out the cosy three-quarter length winner.

Busadi picked up a first Meydan double and gave trainer Osama Refai a first winner of the season when Maplewood took the closing Longines Spirit Zulu Time Handicap, over a mile on turf.

Carrying the silks of popular owner Sayed Hashish, this was a first local win for the five-year-old, who was running on dirt for the first time in the UAE.

“I’m happy too much!” said Busadi, after his ninth winner of the campaign. “I was waiting, and waiting and Insh’Allah, he went!”

The night’s other sprint, the Longines Conquest Handicap, over 1200metres on dirt, went to Al Musn, who gave Barzalona a double.

Trained by Salman Al Sabri, the four-year-old picked up a second career win and first in the UAE, outgunning Border Edge close home.

The Dubai Racing Carnival concludes next week, March 2nd, when ‘Super Saturday’ includes nine Pattern races, including the AED1.7million G2 Al Maktoum Classic.