Dubai World Cup Carnival: Frankyfourfingers cruises to Al Maktoum Challenge R2 win
Frankyfourfingers gave rookie flat race trainer, Salem Bin Ghadeyer a first big-race win in the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge R2 empowered by IPIC on Thursday evening’s Dubai World Cup Carnival card.
The middle round of the Al Maktoum Challenge series, held over 1,900m, also featured African Story, the Dubai World Cup defending champion, who ran home unplaced on a first try on dirt.
Frankfourfingers was runner-up in the first round of the Dubai World Cup prep-race series, over 1600m, and had clearly improved from that outing appearing to relish this step up in trip.
Stable jockey Mickael Barzalona settled his charge just off the speed, before sending his mount for home 200m from the pole.
The pair soon put distance between themselves and their 10 rivals and never looked likely to be caught, despite an impressive late effort from last year’s winner, Prince Bishop.
“He needed that first run,” said Barzalona. “We knew he was a lot fitter this time and had no worries about the extra 300m. That has really suited him.
“I imagine we will be looking at Super Saturday and, hopefully, Dubai World Cup night with him. He is a really nice horse and this is a great result for our new yard.”
The 2003 winner of the Al Maktoum Challenge R2, Moon Ballad, went on to win the Dubai World Cup that year and African Story, runner-up in this last year but well beaten this time, is another who went on to win the world’s richest horse race.
The Group 1 Purebred Arabian version, over 2,200m, also on dirt was won impressively by Richlore ridden by Adrie De Vries for HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
One of four mares in the field, Richlore was always travelling particularly strongly under her Dutch jockey who was clearly prepared to bide his time before asking for a serious challenge.
When he did, the pair went in pursuit of Raaziq who had hit the front about 700m from home and they swept past with 300m to go, winning comfortably.
“She is a lovely mare who stays well and loves this surface,” said De Vries, who rode a first and last race double on the night. “I was always going well and pretty happy throughout. She travelled great and then picked up in style. It was a good win.”
This race was won last year by Rabbah De Carrere, subsequent winner of the Dubai Kahayla Classic on Dubai World Cup night.
The Listed UAE 1000 Guineas, over 1,600m on the dirt, was turned into a procession by Godolphin’s Local Time, ridden by James Doyle and a ninth winner in the race for trainer Saeed bin Suroor.
Always prominent in a closely bunched bunch of six, Doyle eased his mount to the front on the home turn and the pair soon skipped clear.
“She is a nice filly and really relishes this dirt surface,” said Doyle. “We won the trial narrowly but this extra 200m was always going to suit her and she has done that really well.”
She was chased home by stable companion Good Place.
Bin Suroor later saddled a further 1-2 when William Buick and Famous Kid denied Doyle and Ahzeemah in the 2435m turf handicap.
In a race run at a pedestrian pace, Buick’s mount quickened past Ahzeemah about 200m out and they won convincingly in the end.
“We knew both were fit and well,” said Bin Suroor. “We were pretty hopeful coming into the race and it has tuned out perfectly. Famous Kid had the benefit of a recent outing and Ahzeemah has made a great start to his campaign.
“They both stay well and can be competitive in these longer distance races.”
The 1,400m (on turf) Meydan Classic Trial went to South Africa and Mike De Kock who saddled Mastermind, owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum and ridden by the owner’s retained jockey, Paul Hanagan.
The pair basically made all and the winner had clearly benefitted from his UAE debut when an excellent second in a 1200m handicap almost three weeks ago.
“He ran very well the other day,” said Hanagan. “We had a great draw in two today so the idea was always to be positive. He always seemed happy bowling along in front and when I have needed to ask him for an effort he has found plenty.
“He should stay further and can hopefully go on from this.”
Second on his local debut, behind fellow UK raider Belgian Bill, on his local debut in a 1600m turf handicap three weeks ago, the Brendan Powell-trained Dark Emerald made no mistake in the 1200m handicap on the same grass surface.
Ridden by Richard Mullen, who was aboard Belgian Bill on the previous occasion, he led close to home to deny the Dhruba Selvaratnam pair of Sholaan and Master Of War.
A delighted Powell said: “The mile handicap at the end of today’s card was our original target but we would not have made the cut. This was the alternative and it has really worked out well.
“Richie Mullen has given him a great wide.”
The concluding 1,600m turf handicap was won by Samurai Sword, ridden by Adrie De Vries for his main employer, Ahmad Bin Harmash.
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