Thursday’s EGA-sponsored Dubai World Cup Carnival meeting saw the Godolphin show return to Meydan, as the boys in blue provided winners for all three Thoroughbred Group races, including an imperious performance from Dubai World Cup hope, Frosted.
Frosted looked a class apart as he landed the $250,000 Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge R2 for trainer, Kiaran McLaughlin under jockey, William Buick.
A former multiple UAE Champion Trainer, McLaughlin, who saddled Invasor to Dubai World Cup victory win in 2007, looks to hold a strong hand in the 2016 renewal of the world’s richest race.
Already a Grade 1 winner, Frosted was tried in the very best of company in America last year, including when fourth in the Kentucky Derby and runner-up in the Belmont Stakes.
With His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai on hand, Frosted proceeded to live up to the hype he carried with him to Meydan Racecourse.
The son of Tapit always looked to be travelling strongly on his first UAE outing, tracking early leader, Munaaser, before easing past that rival with about 350m to run and putting the race to bed in a matter of strides.
Buick and Frosted also broke the track record in the process. “I am delighted with that,” said McLaughlin. “William gave him a great ride and with Sheikh Mohammed here to witness the win makes it extra special.
“Obviously the Dubai World Cup is the target and we had planned to run on Super Saturday as well but he has won so well tonight we may just wait for the big night.”
The Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 produced a Dubai World Cup winner in 2003 when another Godolphin runner, Moon Ballad landed the race on his way to World Cup glory.
African Story and Prince Bishop were also both runner-up in this contest before winning the world’s richest race.
McLaughlin and Buick also combined to win the 1,600m Group 3 Firebreak Stakes, again on dirt, with Confrontation leading in the final 50m to deny the Doug Watson-trained One Man Band who tried to make all under Pat Dobbs.
Once in front Dobbs was able to set only a modest gallop, stalked by Le Bernardin who was penalised for his Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 victory.
It looked as they would fight out the finish, but the penalty told on Le Bernardin and it was Buick and Confrontation who loomed large.
They led about 50m from home, winning in good style in the end.
“Full credit to Kiaran and his team,” said Buick. “He has produced these horses in great shape and they have both won well.
“I would expect the Godolphin Mile will be his main target and what a great night it has been for the whole team.”
Should Confrontation make it to the Godolphin Mile, he will be in good company with Tamarkuz, Variety Club and Skysurfers all winning the Firebreak contest on their way to Godolphin Mile victory.
And the night just continued to get better for the Godolphin operation, which had already won the 1,600m Group 2 Cape Verdi race for fillies and mares.
Very Special, a record third winner in the race for Saeed in Suroor, turned the contest into a procession under James Doyle.
“She is quite highly strung so we are very pleased with her,” said Doyle. “It was probably not the plan to lead but nobody else wanted to and she was pretty keen so I did not want to disappoint her.
“She ran all the way to the line so the extra 200m of the Balanchine should not be an issue for her.
“It was only her sixth start and she has thrived in the Dubai sunshine. Hopefully she has more improvement in her.”
To cap off the spectacular evening, the Bin Suroor-trained Think Ahead claimed the closing EGA Casthouse Trophy under Doyle.
There was an exciting finish to the 2,810m turf handicap with Andrea Atzeni opening his UAE account, when producing the Roger Varian-trained Battersea to lead right on the line.
It was also a first local winner for the Newmarket-based trainer who said: “We have always liked this horse and will step him up in class for his next outing.
Ertijaal was the easy winner of the 1000m EGA Billets Trophy for owner, Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, trained by Ali Rashid Al Raihe and the choice of first jockey, Paul Hanagan.
He was chased home by Fityaan with Tadhg O’Shea aboard for trainer, Musabah Al Muhairi.
An impressive course and distance winner at the first meeting of this year’s Dubai World Cup Carnival, he won just as well here and he looks a genuine prospect for the Al Quoz Sprint on Dubai World Cup night.
“He has always been a very good horse with Group 1 aspirations,” said Hanagan. “Reverting to sprinting has really suited him and taking on better horses in better races should help him as they will go quicker in the early stages.”
In the Purebred Arabian ranks, the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2, over 2200m on the dirt, opened proceedings and jockey, Wayne Smith produced Haajeb, one of two in the field trained by Nacer Samiri for Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to lead in the final 200m.
“He travelled really strongly and I was pretty confident a long way out,” said Smith. “I said to the trainer he could go straight to the Kahayla Classic and miss Super Saturday.
“The 2000m should really suit him and a small break should freshen him up nicely.”