Thursday’s seven-race Dubai World Cup Carnival card, the eighth of 2020, was worth $1,355,000 and lived up to its billing as one of the most highly anticipated race days thus far this season. The evening was topped by four Group stakes and included three highly competitive handicaps, while also providing numerous clues toward the world’s richest race day, Dubai World Cup on March 28.
DUBAI MILLENNIUM (GROUP 3)
$200,000 | 2000m (turf)
Living up to his rating of 126, the highest in the UAE, Godolphin’s Ghaiyyath made short work of his five opponents in the $200,000 Dubai Millennium (G3), easily taking command early and never allowing his talented opposition within six lengths of him after the first furlong. Reeling off 400m sectionals of 26.69, 49.69, 1:13.06 and 1:36.44, he came into the lane with a commanding lead over Group 1 winner Royal Meeting and defending champ Spotify. The son of Irish 2000 Guineas (G1) and Irish 1000 Guineas (G1) winners Dubawi and Nighttime finished up in a canter under the line in 2:00.33—a new stakes and track record for the 2000m on turf. The final winning margin was 8½ lengths, with Spotify, under James Doyle, running on well for second and Norwegian Derby winner Privilegiado returning to good form in third under Dane O’Neill. . Certain Lad, Desert Encounter and Royal Meeting completed the order of finish
A 14-length winner in similar fashion two races back of the Grosser Preis von Baden (G1) in September and unplaced when last seen in the prestigious Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) in October, the Charlie Appleby trainee will now run in five weeks in the $6 million Longines Dubai Sheema Classic (G1).
Pedigree: Dubawi – Nighttime (Galileo)
Trainer: Charlie Appleby
Jockey: William Buick
Official Time: 2:00.33 (New Stakes and Track Record)
Previous Track Record: 2:00.67 – Hunter’s Light, 2016; Certain Lad, 2020
Previous Stakes Record (Meydan): 2:00.67 – Hunter’s Light, 2016
Margin of Victory: 8½ Lengths
William Buick, Jockey, GHAIYYATH (1st)—“He’s a very energetic horse and was a little bit fresh today. He puts a lot into everything he does. It was an exercise where we hoped to produce and he did it well. He’s a hugely talented horse and like Charlie mentioned, he’s going to get a nice rest until World Cup night now.”
Charlie Appleby, Trainer, GHAIYYATH (1st)—“I’m delighted. We’ve all seen what this horse can do, especially coming up his first start, there. The reason we’ve come here instead of going down the classic Sheema Classic route of running in the (Group 3) Dubai City of Gold (on Super Saturday, March 7) is that this gives us two more weeks. The plan was to just let him float into (the race) from his outside post and once he was on the lead, we would let him roll along. We’ve seen on numerous occasions what he can do when he’s left to his own devices like that. Hopefully we can just freshen him up now and aim toward the Sheema Classic. Knowing the nature of the beast, (free-running on the lead) is what you want to see. The main thing we all know in this game is just getting these horses to breathe. In the Arc, it was soft ground, but unfortunately he got hustled there and they went a strong gallop that day. He just could never get into a nice rhythm. Like any athlete, once you get them into a good rhythm where they’re breathing, they have the engine, which allows them to show their full potential.
“Ideally, you say you’ll have a wait and go straight (to the Sheema, in lieu of running today), but here in Dubai, he’s a bit more tricky than in the UK. We have stiffer gallops in the UK, where he we train on a flat track. He won’t want too much more galloping, because the more he does, the keener he gets. Hopefully now, with a run under his belt, we can just ease off on him and let him float into World Cup night and have a crack at the Sheema Classic.”
James Doyle, Jockey, SPOTIFY (2nd)—“Spotify ran a good race. He won the race last year, but we were not up against the same opposition in Ghaiyyath tonight. So he finished second tonight, he ran a good race, but not in the same league as the winner.”
Dane O’Neill, Jockey, PRIVILEGIADO (3rd)—“He’ll get farther. His last run was disappointing and everyone was scratching their heads wondering why it was so bad. He found his way back into some form tonight and he’ll get further and that’ll be the key to him. Hopefully he will have a little luck along the way. He got caught a little flat-footed on the turn and I thought that, since his run was so bad the other day, that I couldn’t put him under pressure to keep that position. I let him find his feet and let him finish from there.”
Down On Da Bayou, picture Dubai Racing Club/Erika Rasmussen
UAE OAKS (GROUP 3)
$250,000 | 1900m (dirt)
HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum’s Salem bin Ghadayer-trained Down on da Bayou put another notch in the shell of dam Bayou Tortuga, becoming her second foal to win the classic $250,000 UAE Oaks (G3), making all under Mickael Barzalona and finishing up 18½ lengths in front and in a 1900m stakes record time of 1:58.35. The daughter of Super Saver set fractions of 25.68, 49.78, 1:15.02 and 1:39.96, all while sprinting clear of her rivals, including favourite Dubai Love (Pat Cosgrave) and well-regarded Japanese invader Serein. The win was her second from five starts and followed a runner-up effort to the former in the $250,000 UAE 1000 Guineas (G3). Her half-sister Polar River won the race in 2016.
Winner: DOWN ON DA BAYOU
Pedigree: Super Saver – Bayou Tortuga (Empire Maker)
Owner: HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum
Trainer: Salem bin Ghadayer
Jockey: Mickael Barzalona
Official Time: 1:58.35 (New Stakes Record)
Track Record: 1:55.18 – Mendelssohn, 2018
Previous Stakes Record (Meydan Dirt): 1:59.66 – Rayya, 2018
Margin of Victory: 18½ Lengths
Mickael Barzalona, Jockey, DOWN ON DA BAYOU (1st)—“I think she’s improving every run. She’s a very sensitive filly and I think today she really liked the trip. I could ease her into the race. She raced on very well when I asked her to go. She did it very easily and the time was good. I’m happy with that. We know she can be very fast and there’s no point to fight against her. You let her go and it was a good test to see if she could stay today and she did.”
Salem bin Ghadayer, Trainer, DOWN ON DA BAYOU (1st)—“She’s an amazing filly. Before we had the question mark about the distance, but she showed her class. Thank god everything went well. We just wanted a clear run. We knew should get at least nine furlongs, so it was only a question of the final 100m. She made the best for herself. At home, even when she had hard training, she wasn’t getting too tired. She’s an honest filly. It’s an owner’s decision (where she goes next). We entered her in the Saudi Derby and I asked my boss if we should go to this race and he said no problem. The next and last step for her this season I think will be next week (in Saudi Arabia). The short time, but she always recovers quickly. One day after a race, she needs two persons (to lead her). I hope everything goes well and she’ll be fine and sound and in good health.”
Pat Cosgrave, Jockey, DUBAI LOVE (2nd)—“She’s done well, but was no match for the winner today. She didn’t do anything wrong—the winner was just too good. No excuses, was beaten by a better horse today.”
Yutaka Take, Jockey, SEREIN (3rd)—“It was good. She was a little bit excited before the race and in the stall. It was not quiet. It was only a week here (since shipping from Japan). Maybe next time we’ll get it.”
ZABEEL MILE (GROUP 2)
$250,000 | 1600m (turf)
In a thrilling blanket finish, Godolphin’s Charlie Appleby-trained Zakouski proved an exciting type by landing the $250,000 Zabeel Mile (G2) by a neck, his second win of the 2020 DWC Carnival. Tracking behind leaders Salute the Soldier (Adrie de Vries) and stablemate Mythical Magic (William Buick), who set 400m sectionals of 26.55, 50.47 and 1:12.78, jockey James Doyle waited to produce the son of Shamardal until the final furlong, accelerating with Group 1 winner Dream Castle (Christophe Soumillon) to his right and splitting horses to get in the final three strides. The final time was 1:35.93.
Defending winner of the race Mythical Magic, the choice of William Buick over Zakouski, finished second, a neck to the good of Dream Castle, who in turn was a neck ahead of Salute the Soldier. Zainhom, Eqtiraan and Golden Jaguar completed the finish. Winner of a 1600m handicap last month, 4-year-old Zakouski won for the third time from four career starts.
Pedigree: Shamardal – O’Giselle (Octagonal)
Trainer: Charlie Appleby
Jockey: James Doyle
Official Time: 1:35.93
Track Record: 1:34.84 – Magic Lily, 2020
Stakes Record (Meydan): 1:35.19 – Championship, 2017
Margin of Victory: Neck
James Doyle, Jockey, ZAKOUSKI (1st)—“To be honest, not at any stage did I think he would win until probably the final 100m. He seemed to find the ground a bit loose today, but you have to remember that was just his fourth career start and he has beaten three tough customers already proven at this level. He hit the line well and hopefully he’ll have a nice campaign now from here. I think he’ll take a big step forward from today.”
Charlie Appleby, Trainer, ZAKOUSKI (1st)—“We know Mythical Magic had solid form and at home was the better work horse. You just have to go back to Zakouski when he broke his maiden over a good horse at Kempton and has always had ability. It will be interesting to see (if he’ll go farther) and what James says. I’m delighted with the results.”
William Buick, Jockey, MYTHICAL MAGIC (2nd)—“He had a similar race to what he had last year in the race. He’s obviously a year older and he ran very well. It’s just that Mythical Magic had been there and done that and was a safe bet, but I knew (Zakouski) was an improver.”
Christophe Soumillon, Jockey, DREAM CASTLE (3rd)—“He ran really well. Unfortunately, he stumbled at the 300m mark and it cost him probably second place.”
MEYDAN SPRINT (GROUP 2)
$250,000 | 1000m (turf)
Giving HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum win number 900 in the UAE, Doug Watson-trained Waady returned from just one week’s rest to land the Group 2 $250,000 Meydan Sprint over heavily favoured Equilateral. Always involved, the gritty son of Approve followed the swift pace set by G2-winning 11-year-old Caspian Prince (Ben Curtis) before challenging in the final 300m of the straight 1000m dash. Engaged with Equilateral in the final furlong, he outlasted the Juddmonte colour-bearer to win by three-quarters of a length and for the third time this season. The final time was a swift 56.87, with American sprinter-miler Blitzkrieg closing well to finish third under William Buick, 1¼ lengths astern the runner-up. Caspian Prince, Yaalail, Angel Alexander, Poet’s Society, Mazzini and Inverleigh completed the order of finish. Last Thursday, the 8-year-old won a 1000m handicap in a time of 57.24, his ninth victory from 32 lifetime starts.
Pedigree: Approve – Anne Bonney (Jade Robbery)
Owner: HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Trainer: Doug Watson
Jockey: Jim Crowley
Official Time: :56.87
Track and Stakes Record: :55.90 – Ertijaal, 2017
Margin of Victory: ¾ Length
Jim Crowley, Jockey, WAADY (1st)—“I think he’s improved. It was a better performance than last week. A lot of credit must go to Doug Watson and his team. He’s not an easy horse in the mornings. They’ve done a great job with him to come back a week later and put in a better performance. The key to this horse is that he stays five (furlongs) so well and gallops past the line. It was a job to pull up with him. He just keeps going. He’s come out here and he’s thriving out here. At the age of seven, he’s really found his form.”
Doug Watson, Trainer, WAADY (1st)—“This horse surprised us all season, his third with us and we have changed his preparations and training routine this campaign. Everything has gone well. He has natural speed for 1000m, but we will have to go back up to 1200m now, but he deserves a crack at another big prize.”
James Doyle, Jockey, EQUILATERAL (2nd)—“Obviously, I’m very disappointed. I am not sure. We will see how the horse comes back. Nothing he did before in his last race suggested he would get beaten tonight. That is horse racing, so we will see how he comes back.”
William Buick, Jockey, BLITZKRIEG (3rd)—“He ran great. Obviously five furlongs is probably a little bit sharp for him. Ideally he probably wants six furlongs. He stayed on well. He just got a little bit outpaced at half-way, but all in all it was a good effort. When the race reopened, they made the right choice to run him. I think the ground today is a little bit loose and maybe had to find his feet again when he was a bit outpaced, but then he finished well.”
Earlier in the card, the $135,000 Range Rover Velar Handicap over 1400m on dirt saw Cool Silk Partnership’s Doug Watson-trained Midnight Sands power home impressively and in swift time, winning his fifth consecutive. Patrick Dobbs was aboard the 4-year-old son of Speightstown, who stalked Fasuba around the final turn and easily pulled ahead to finish up 3 ½ lengths in front in a final time of 1:23.79—just .72s off the track record time. Trainer Doug Watson will certainly be looking for an invitation to the $1.5 million Godolphin Mile (G2) after this smart effort, having used the same track with One Man Band in 2016.
“The owners deserve a lot of credit, because they let me put him away after he won in March and they are reaping the rewards because we wanted to freshen him up,” Watson said. “Hopefully this will be enough to get him in the Godolphin Mile, because the five weeks between races will be ideal. We like to space his races out.”
The evening’s split 1600m turf handicaps, the $135,000 Jaguar XE Handicap and $135,000 Jaguar F PACE Handicap, featured highly entertaining results. First up was Melbourne 10 Racing’s Jamie Osborne-trained Cliffs of Capri, who closed resolutely after losing ample ground throughout, landing his first DWC Carnival win this season from his third start. The 6-year-old son of Canford Cliffs sat mid-pack, but was shuffled back under Tadhg O’Shea approaching the far turn. Patiently handled, the bay charge waited until the straight to do his best running, showing a determined turn-of-foot to deny Al Ali Rashid Al Rayhi-trained Moqtarreb by a head. The final time was 1:36.74.
“We were confident the ability was still there, but were starting to question his temperament, so we put the blinkers on and it has worked,” Osborne said. “We were probably in front plenty early enough and the horse perhaps had a little think, but it is great to see him win again and a big result for all of us involved.”
In the second division, the nightcap, was won in smart fashion by Abdullah Menahi’s Epic Hero, making up for close calls in his two DWC Carnival efforts thus far—a third going 1800m on Feb. 6 and a second going 1600m on Jan. 16. Closing fastest of all after going between horses at the 300m mark, the Simon Crisford-trained son of Siyouni out-punched favourite Land of Legends and held off the persistence of UK-based Wait Forever and USA-based One Flew South, who held on for third and fourth. The win was the 4-year-old’s second from nine career tries and James Doyle was in the saddle. The final time was a smart 1:35.35.
Waddy, picture Dubai Racing Club|Erika Rasmussen