Category Archives: Dubai Racing

Even Dozen Set for UAE 2000 Guineas

***This article was originally published Feb. 9 on the website***

Twelve evenly-matched colts and geldings are set to face the starter in the $250,000 UAE 2000 Guineas Sponsored by Dubal (UAE-III). The one mile contest is one of two stakes that will be run on Thursday over the Tapeta all-weather surface at Meydan Racecourse.

Mike de Kock will send out Zanzamar for owner Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum. By leading South African sire Fort Wood, Zanzamar has won three of seven starts, and has finished in the money six times. The bay colt wrapped up his juvenile season with a good third in the Premier’s Champion Stakes (SAf-I). In his debut at Meydan last month, Zanzamar looked sharp when capturing the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial by a length over Splash Point, who will also contest the 2000 Guineas. Richard Hills has the mount.

Argentine-bred Paulinho will be seeking to improve off of his second-place finish in a seven-furlong conditions race at Meydan on Dec. 30. Trained by Herman Brown for owners Malkinsky Stud and Zalim Bifov, Paulinho was undefeated as a juvenile in his native Argentina, winning his three starts by a combined 25 lengths. He capped off his season with an impressive six-length victory in the Estrellas Juvenile (Arg-I) on June 26. The son of Equal Stripes will be ridden for the first time by Ryan Moore.

Godolphin will send out the lightly-raced pair of Buffum and Bridgefield. Buffum, from the first crop of champion Bernardini, was purchased for $1.2 million dollars by Sheik Mohammed at the 2009 Saratoga Select yearling sale. After winning his debut going a mile at Belmont Park last October, Buffum ran in the Remsen Stakes (gr. II), where he finished last of five to the highly-regarded To Honor And Serve. Originally trained by Tom Albertrani, Buffum was transferred to the barn of Saeed bin Suroor. Frankie Dettori has the mount.

Bridgefield is the second Godolphin runner. Trained by Mahmood Al Zarooni, the son of Speightstown most recently ran third to Zanzamar on Jan. 20. Prior to that, Bridgefield captured a seven-furlong maiden race at Doncaster last October. Ahmed Ajtebi will ride.

Another to bear watching is the Clive Brittain-trained Abjer. A 3-year-old colt by Singspiel, Abjer captured the Jaguar XJ Autumn Stakes (Eng-III) at Ascot last October. He will have to improve off of a poor showing in the Criterium International (Fr-I), where he finished last of ten runners to Roderic O’Connor. Ted Durcan will ride.

Musir and Gayego Headline Firebreak Stakes

One race prior to the UAE 2000 Guineas, a field of 14 older runners will go to post in the listed $175,000 Firebreak Stakes Sponsored by Dubal. Run over the same course and distance as the Guineas, the Firebreak will mark the return of Musir, who captured both the UAE 2000 Guineas and UAE Derby (UAE-II) last year for trainer Mike de Kock. The son of Redoute’s Choice will be ridden once again by Christophe Soumillon, with their goal being a shot at the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) in March.

De Kock will also saddle Imbongi, who was second to Mendip in the Al Maktoum Challenge-Round 1 Sponsored by Longines (UAE-III) in his seasonal debut. De Kock has indicated that this race may lead to a possible start in the Godolphin Mile (UAE-II) on World Cup day.

Saeed bin Suroor will be sending out Gayego, Skysurfers, and Lochinver in the Firebreak. Gayego, a 6-year-old horse by Gilded Time has been absent since finishing third to Dakota Phone in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I). Ted Durcan will be aboard, as Frankie Dettori opts for Skysurfers, who finished third in last year’s Godolphin Mile.

Others to watch are the Herman Brown-trained Bankable, second in the 2010 Dubai Duty Free (UAE-IT), and Dandy Boy, a David Marnane-trained gelding who looked sharp when winning a seven-furlong turf handicap Jan. 13.

$250,000 UAE 2000 Guineas Sponsored by Dubal (gr. III, race 6, 12:30 p.m. EST), 3yos (3yo NH-bred, 4yo SH-bred), 8 furlongs (Tapeta).

PP, Horse, Wgt., Jockey, Trainer

1. Mayfair Lad (GB), 120, R. Ffrench, A. Al Raihe

2. Abstrato (Brz), 130, K. Shea, M. de Kock

3. Abjer (Fr), 120, T. Durcan, C. Brittain

4. Paulinho (Arg), 130, R. Moore, H. Brown

5. Hoot (Ire), 120, C.P. Lemaire, A. bin Huzaim

6. Air of Grace (Ire), 120, A. Murgia, I. Mohammed

7. Zanzamar (SAf), 130, R. Hills, M. de Kock

8. Buffum (KY), 120, L. Dettori, S. bin Suroor

9. Sonoran Sands (Ire), 120, C. O’Donoghue, J.S. Moore

10. Bridgefield (KY), 120, A. Ajtebi, M. Al Zarooni

11. Splash Point (KY), 120, M. Barzalona, M. Al Zarooni

12. Krypton Factor (GB), 120, K. Fallon, F. Nass

$175,000 Firebreak Stakes Sponsored by Dubal (listed, race 5, 11:50 a.m. EST), 3yo (SH-bred) and up, 8 furlongs (Tapeta). All carry 126 lbs.

1. Il Grande Maurizio (Ire), R. Ffrench, A. Al Raihe

2. Bankable (Ire), R. Moore, H. Brown

3. Imbongi (SAf), K. Shea, M. de Kock

4. Accountforthegold (NY), R. Cleary, R. Bouresly

5. Frosty Secret (FL), B. Fayd’Herbe, M. de Kock

6. Lochinver (KY), M. Barzalona, S. bin Suroor

7. Cat Junior (KY), O. Peslier, N. Petersen

8. Skysurfers (GB), L. Dettori, S. bin Suroor

9. Green Coast (Ire), T. O’Shea, D. Watson

10. Dandy Boy (Ity), C. O’Donoghue, D. Marnane

11. Comradeship (Ire), R. Burke, R. Bouresly

12. Mujaazef (GB), R. Hills, A. Al Raihe

13. Musir (Aus), C. Soumillon, M. de Kock

14. Gayego (KY), T. Durcan, S. bin Suroor


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Round 2 of Maktoum Challenge Headlines Big Day at Meydan

Al Shemali, the upset winner of the Dubai Duty Free (UAE-IT) last year, is set to make his seasonal debut in the $200,000 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2-Sponsored by Etisalat (UAE-III) at Meydan Race Course Feb. 3. The Al Maktoum Challenge is one of three stakes races that will share the spotlight on the fourth night of the 2011 Dubai Carnival.

The 9 ½-furlong contest is the second in the ‘Challenge’ series that serve as preps for the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) which will be run on Mar. 26. Although Mendip, the winner of the first leg of the series, is bypassing this race to wait for Round 3 next month, the race still brings together an intriguing field of nine, headlined by five group/grade I winners.

North American racing fans should be familiar with two of the runners, Crowded House and Gitano Hernando.  Crowded House, a 5-year-old son of Rainbow Quest, captured the 2008 Racing Post Trophy (Eng-I) over fellow group I winner, Jukebox Jury. Winless in 12 starts since then, Crowded House now is based in California with trainer Ben Cecil. His best performance since the transfer was a strong second to Richard’s Kid in the 2010 Pacific Classic Presented by TVG (gr. I). Crowded House does appear to have a strong propensity for synthetic racing surfaces, especially the Tapeta at Meydan, where he finished second twice in stakes races last year.

Ryan Moore will have the mount.

Team Valor and Gary Barber’s Gitano Hernando will be making his first start since finishing a decent fourth to Twice Over in the Emirates Airline Champion Stakes (Eng-I) in October. A 5-year-old horse by Hernando, Gitano Hernando made a splash in his U.S. debut when he got up in the final strides to take the 2009 Goodwood Stakes (gr. I) over Colonel John.

Trainer Marco Botti is plotting a slightly different strategy for Gitano Hernando’s Dubai World Cup try this year, wintering the horse in Dubai for the full racing season instead of just shipping him in for the World Cup. In 2010, Gitano Hernando finished sixth in the World Cup after capturing the listed Winter Derby Trial Stakes at Lingfield. Weichong Marwing will be aboard for the first time.

Dismissed at odds of 40-1, Al Shemali stormed home to take the 2010 Dubai Duty Free (UAE-IT) by 1 ½-lengths over a quality field that included Take The Points, The Usual Q.T., Good Ba Ba and Presvis.  In his lone start since then, the 7-year-old finished a strong third to Lizard’s Desire and Gloria De Campeao in the Singapore Airlines International Cup (Sin-I). Regular partner Royston Ffrench will once again have the mount.

Bold Silvano hails from the powerful barn of Mike de Kock. A multiple stakes winner in his native South Africa, Bold Silvano capped off his 2010 season with an impressive victory in the Vodacom Durban July (SAf-I). Christophe Soumillon picks up the mount.

Trainer Pascal Bary sends out the fifth group I winner in the race, Interaction. Winner of both the Clasico Carlos Pelligrini (Arg-IT) and the Gran Premio Clasico Jockey Club (Arg-IT) in Argentina, Interaction will look to improve off of his dull seventh-place finish in his lone start in France last September. Christophe Lemaire will ride.

The field is rounded out by Godolphin’s Spring Of Fame, stakes winner My Indy, and outsiders Silverside and Trois Rois.

Al Shindagha Sprint and UAE 1000 Guineas on Undercard

Mike de Kock’s Our Giant heads a wide open field of 12 in the other group race on the card, the $200,000 Al Shindagha Sprint Sponsored by Etisalat (UAE-III). A son of Giant’s Causeway, Our Giant is a group I winning sprinter in his native South Africa. He enters the race off of a strong win in a six furlong conditions race at Meydan on Jan. 13.

Another to watch is Sangaree, a half-brother to Congaree who will be making his first start for Godolphin. The son of Awesome Again was transferred from trainer Bob Baffert to Saeed bin Suroor last fall.

The top finishers from the UAE 1000 Guineas Trial Sponsored by Longines will once again do battle in the $250,000 UAE 1000 Guineas Sponsored by Etisalat. Once again, Mike de Kock will have a loaded hand, with Mahbooba, Reem, and Empire Rose representing the trainer. All three fillies are owned by Sheik Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum.

Trainer Herman Brown sends out the fourth-place finisher from the Trial, Chocolicious. A 4-year-old daughter of Kahal, Chocolicious captured the Allen Robertson Challenge (SAf-I) last May. Ryan Moore will ride.

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Presvis Storms Home in Al Rashidiya

***This article was also published Jan. 27 on the Blood-Horse website***


Presvis showed no signs of rust as he powered away from his rivals through the stretch to win the Al Rashidiya-Sponsored by Gulf News (UAE-IIT) by a commanding 4 ¾-lengths at Meydan Race Course Jan. 27. The nine furlong turf contest was the featured race on the third night of the 2011 Dubai Carnival.

The 7-year-old Sakhee gelding, who was making his first start since Royal Ascot last June, now has won at least one race at the Carnival for three years running.

Ridden by an ultra-confident Ryan Moore, Presvis was settled into last after the break, as outsiders Tam Lin and Tequilla Heights went to the front and set the pace. Frankie Dettori had Caymans just behind that pair in third, as the favorite Irish Flame raced in sixth.

Both outsiders continued to duel on the front end through the early stages of the race, with Caymans tracking them closely. Presvis continued to bring up the rear, trailing the field by as much as four lengths.

As the field entered the turn, Caymans assumed command, but Presvis was slicing his way through the pack, making up several lengths with each stride. As the horses hit the top of the straight, Presvis shot to the front and the race was over within a few strides. Presvis streaked to the wire under just mild urging from Moore, and crossed the finish line an easy winner.

Steele Tango overtook Caymans in the final yards to claim second by 1 ¾-lengths. Irish Flame made a brief move at the top of the stretch but was no match for the winner and had to settle for fourth.

Final time for the nine furlongs over a good turf course was 1:49.56.

Winning trainer Luca Cumani told reporters after the race, “He did it very, very well. I was very pleased as I thought he would need the race. I’ve not been able to do everything I wanted with him, but he probably knows best now.”

“Ryan gets on with him like a house on fire,” Cumani continued. “I didn’t give him any orders, I just said go out there and do what you normally do. The next stop will be the next group race here at this trip and then the Dubai Duty Free (UAE-IT) on World Cup night.”

Presvis, whose biggest victory to date has been the 2009 Audemars Piguet QE II Cup (HK-I), improved his record to seven wins from 21 starts. The $120,000 winner’s share of the purse increased his earnings to $3,806,150.

Presvis was bred in England by Mrs. M. Campbell-Andenaes, and is owned by Leonidas Marinopoulos. He is out of the winning Never So Bold mare, Forest Fire.

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Presvis Makes 2011 Debut in Al Rashidiya

***This article was originally published on Jan. 26 on the Blood-Horse website***

Group I winning-globetrotter Presvis makes his seasonal debut in the Al Rashidiya-Sponsored by Gulf News (UAE-IIT) at Meydan Race Course on Jan. 27. The nine furlong turf contest highlights the third night of the 2011 Dubai Carnival.

Trained by Luca Cumani for owner Leonidas Marinopoulos, Presvis will be making his first start since finishing a disappointing ninth in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes (Eng-I) in June at Royal Ascot. A winner at each of the last two Carnivals, Presvis turned in an impressive performance to capture the 2010 Jebel Hatta (UAE-IIT), scoring by 1 ½-lengths over Alexandros. The son of Sakhee was also a sharp second to champion Gladiatorus in the 2009 Dubai Duty Free (UAE-IT) at Nad Al Sheba.

The connections of the 7-year-old gelding are hopeful of their chances, with Cumani’s assistant trainer, Charlie Henson telling The Racing Post, “He has been off a long time now and is sure to improve from the run, but he looks in good shape and enjoys his time in Dubai.”

Ryan Moore has the mount.

Trainer Mike de Kock has a strong contender in Irish Flame, a 5-year-old South African-bred colt by Dynasty. A winner of six of 11 lifetime starts, Irish Flame had a banner year in 2010, capturing the Daily News 2000 (SAf-I), the S.A. Derby (SAf-I), and the Gold Circle Derby (SAf-II). He capped off his season with a narrow defeat to stablemate Bold Silvano in the Vodacom Durban July (SAf-I).

Regular rider Kevin Shea will be aboard.

Godolphin will be represented by two runners in the Al Rashidiya. Frozen Power will be making his second start this season for trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni. The son of Oasis Dream will be hoping to make amends for his seventh-place finish to Mendip in the Al Maktoum Challenge-Round I Sponsored by Longines (UAE-III).

Frozen Power as always been well-regarded by the Godolphin team, and competed in several top races as a 3-year-old last year. A half-brother to champion Finsceal Beo, Frozen Power captured the Mehl Muhlens-Rennen-German 2000 Guineas (Ger-II) in May. Jockey Mickael Barzalona will ride.

Saeed bin Suroor trains the other half of the Godolphin entry, Caymans. The Australian-bred 6-year-old gelding has been lightly-raced due to various minor ailments, and has made just 10 career starts. He has shown plenty of ability despite his brief career, with his best result coming with a victory in the 2008 Betfair Sandown Guineas (Aus-II).

Frankie Dettori will be aboard.

Other contenders include Sea Lord, a 4-year-old colt by Cape Cross who hails from the rich female family of champions/grade I winners Numbered Account, Rhythm, Girolamo, and Super Saver, and the hard-knocking Bushman, a tough 7-year-old gelding trained by David Simcock.

$200,000 Al Rashidiya-Sponsored by Gulf News (gr. II, race 6, 12:45 p.m. EST), 3yo (SH-Bred) and Up, 9 furlongs (turf).

PP, Horse, Wgt., Jockey, Trainer

1. Sea Lord (Ire), 127, A. Ajtebi, M. Al Zarooni

2. Bushman (GB), 126, J. Spencer, D. Simcock

3. Tequilla Heights (Brz), 126, B. Reis, E. Martins

4. Bribone (Fr), 126, R. Mullen, S. Seemar

5. Le Drakkar (Aus), 126, C.P. Lemaire, A. bin Huzaim

6. Irish Flame (SAf), 129, K. Shea, M. de Kock

7. Caymans (Aus), 126, L. Dettori, S. bin Suroor

8. Steele Tango (KY), 126, T. Durcan, R. Teal

9. Grand Hombre (KY), 126, R. Burke, R. Bouresly

10. Tam Lin (GB), 126, P. Cosgrave, M. bin Shafya

11. Frozen Power (Ire), 124, M. Barzalona, M. Al Zarooni

12. Third Set (Ire), 126, R. Hills, I. Mohammed

13. Presvis (GB), 126, R. Moore, L. Cumani

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Aspectoflove Determined Winner of Cape Verdi

***This was originally published on Jan. 20 on the Blood-Horse website. Please check out the recap on their site if you would like to see a finish line photo***


Aspectoflove outlasted a stubborn Thai Haku to capture the $200,000 Cape Verdi Stakes-Sponsored by Bab Al Shams (UAE-IIT) at Meydan Race Course Jan. 20.  The turf event for older fillies and mares was the featured race on the second night of the 2011 Dubai Carnival.

Sent off as the 3-1 second choice under Frankie Dettori, the Irish-bred daughter of Danetime was trying to capture her first stakes race in Dubai, having finished a close second on two occasions last year.

Dettori was content to settle Aspectoflove into third, as longshot Anam Chara led the field of 11 through very slow early fractions.  Christophe Lemaire had Thai Haku in the second spot, with Aspectoflove just off her heels in third.  Favored River Jetez hugged the rail in fourth, as 2009 Cape Verdi victress Deem raced toward the back of the field in seventh.

Anam Chara continued to set the pace, opening up a two-length lead as the field entered the home straight.  Lemaire went to work aboard Thai Haku, and the daughter of Oasis Dream powered past Anam Chara, taking the lead with just over two furlongs left to run.

At the same time, Dettori had moved Aspectoflove off of the rail so she would have a clear path, and went to work aboard the 5-year-old mare.  Aspectoflove quickly drew alongside Thai Haku, and the pair battled the length of the stretch, with Aspectoflove finally gaining a slight advantage as they hit the wire.  The official margin of victory was a quarter-length, although it appeared to be much closer.

Christophe Soumillon had attempted to make a daring move along the inside rail aboard River Jetez, but the pair had to snatch up quickly when they ran out of room.  The South African mare was full of run and made up several lengths once she got into the clear, but it was too late and she had to settle for third, another half-length further back.

Final time for the mile over the good turf course was 1:36.52.

The victory was the first of the season for Aspectoflove, who had captured the listed EBF Normandie Stud Fleur de Lys Stakes last October at Lingfield.  With the victory, the bay mare improved her record to seven wins from 20 career starts for owner Godolphin Racing.

Trained by Saeed bin Suroor, Aspectoflove was bred in Ireland by Patrick Cassidy.  By Danetime, she is out of the unraced Caerleon mare, Rose Vibert.

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Aspectoflove Headlines Cape Verdi Stakes

***The following is a preview of the Cape Verdi Stakes, which will be run on Jan. 20 at Meydan Race Course. You can also find this preview on The Blood-Horse website.  I thought I’d also include it here.


Aspectoflove heads a field of 11 older fillies and mares that will go to the post in the Cape Verdi Stakes-Sponsored by Bab Al Shams (UAE-IIT) at Meydan Race Course on Jan. 20.  The Cape Verdi highlights the second day of racing of the 2011 Dubai Carnival.

Trained by Saeed bin Suroor for Godolphin, Aspectoflove finished second in this race last year, coming up just a quarter-length short to Soneva.  The 5-year-old daughter of Danetime made seven additional starts in 2010, capturing two listed events over the same eight furlong distance of the Cape Verdi.

Aspectoflove has been training very well of late, and Suroor is looking for big things from her. “She ran well in both her Meydan races last year and we are very happy with her. She is better racing prominently and we expect her to go close.”

Frankie Dettori has the mount.

South Africa’s Mike de Kock, who perennially factors as one of the leading trainers during the Dubai Carnival, sends out the hard-knocking River Jetez.  An 8-year-old mare by the leading South African-based sire, Jet Master, River Jetez is a full-sister to the 2007 South African Horse of the Year, Pocket Power.

A multiple stakes winner in her native country, River Jetez won three of her four starts last year, which was highlighted by a gallant victory in the prestigious J & B Met (SAf-I).  In that ten-furlong contest she not only defeated Pocket Power-who was bidding for an unprecedented fourth straight win in the race-but also Mother Russia, who recently captured the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate (SAf-I) at Kenilworth on Jan. 8.

Originally trained by Mike Bass, River Jetez was turned over to de Kock with an eye toward racing in the carnival.  Leading French rider Christophe Soumillon will be aboard.

Deem will be trying to win the Cape Verdi for the second time.  The daughter of Dalakhani, who is trained by Jerry Barton for Prince Sultan Mohammed Saud Al Kabeer, captured the event in 2009.  Last year, the 6-year-old mare claimed a victory over Aspectoflove in the Balanchine Stakes (UAE-IIIT) before finishing a close fourth to Dar Re Mi in the Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-IT).

Olivier Peslier has the mount, and is looking forward to riding Deem. “She is in good form and seems to thrive in Dubai,” Peslier said.  “We have to be hopeful of a good run and hopefully there will be a decent pace in the race to utilize her stamina.”

The Kentucky-bred My Sweet Baby will be making her first start since May of last year.  The 5-year-old daughter of Minardi captured the Premio Regina Elena (Italian 1000 Guineas, gr. III) in 2009.  My Sweet Baby is a half-sister to champion Gladiatorus, who was undefeated in three starts in Dubai. He captured the Dubai Duty Free (UAE-IT) and the Premio Vittorio di Capua (It-I) on his way to being named champion in both Italy and the U.A.E. in 2009.

Other contenders include Ralph Beckett’s Forest Crown, a half-sister to group I winner Crowded House and the Stan Moore-trained Kinky Afro.

$200,000 Cape Verdi-Sponsored by Bab Al Shams (gr. II, Race 6, 12:45 p.m. EST), Fillies & Mares, 3yo (SH-bred) & Up, 1 mile (turf) (all carry 126 lbs.)

PP, Horse, Jockey, Trainer

1. River Jetez (SAf), C. Soumillon, M. de Kock

2. Aspectoflove (Ire), L. Dettori, S. bin Suroor

3. Anam Chara (Ire), C. O’Donoghue, A. Oliver

4. Kinky Afro (Ire), K. Fallon, J.S. Moore

5. Forest Crown (GB), J. Crowley, R. Beckett

6. Ayun Tara (Fr), G. Benoist, X. Nakkachdji

7. Summer Games (GB), T. O’Shea, R. Bouresly

8. Emper Holly (Arg), P. Cosgrave, M. bin Shafya

9. Deem (Ire), O. Peslier, J. Barton

10. Thai Haku (Ire), C.P. Lemaire, M. Delzangles

11. My Sweet Baby (KY), W. Smith, F. Nass


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