The meeting was highlighted by the Garhoud Sprint (Listed), sponsored by Al Tayer Motors, and there was a thrilling finish as the Watson-trained Drafted ran down dirt-debuting Ibn Malik in the final yards of the 1200 metre contest.
With jockey Sam Hitchcott in the saddle, the winner took the honours by a nose over the Musabbeh Al Mheiri-trained runner-up in a time of 1:11.86. The three arguably highest regarded in the field—Group 3 winner Kimbear, track record-setting Raven’s Corner and the fleet-footed frontrunner High on Life—filled out the following three spots in what is likely to be a Dubai World Cup Carnival warm-up for both the Group 3 Dubawi Stakes on 3 January and Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 on 10 January.
Speaking afterwards, Watson said: “He was missing the break a bit last season, so we decided to take the visor off and he has broken much better today. Sam has given him a great ride and timed his challenge perfectly. Drafted has probably tired in the final stages, but hung on gamely. Kimbear has also run very well over this shorter trip and that should put him spot on for the first round of the Maktoum Challenge in five weeks. Drafted will go on to the Dubawi.”
The Watson/Hitchcott combination came to the fore in the evening’s opener, the Lincoln MKZ Trophy handicap over 2000 metres. On this occasion it was Powderhouse who was making its local debut who came good by half a length, this after the race was delayed when J Be Space broke through the gate and lost his saddle and jockey Richard Mullen en route to being withdrawn. That did not deter Powderhouse’s maiden-breaking victory, ahead of Hucklebuck in second and Compliance in third.
Eleven juveniles contested the Lincoln, a 1600 metre conditions race that was won by the heavily favoured Walking Thunder who was the only previous winner in the field. Despite a less than ideal trip, the winner was clear of his opponents in the final throws, winning by four lengths under Connor Beasley for trainer Ahmad bin Harmash. Bila Shak took second with Raayan in third.
The longest race on the card was the 2200 metre Lincoln MKC handicap which was led from start to finish by Heraldic.
Soon in front under Richard Mullen, the Satish Seemar-trained charge stayed there throughout to win by two lengths, in doing so doubling his local tally and registering a third career success having scored once for Mark Johnston when trained in Britain. Illusional was second whilst third placed Immortalised was distant five and a quarter lengths further back.
The trainer completed a double with a narrow victory for Cachao in the Lincoln MKX 1600 metre handicap. The race attracted a full field of 16 and the winner enjoyed a stealthy ride by Tadhg O’Shea in an exciting finish. Cachao closed resolutely up the rail, and tipped out to pass frontrunner and eventual third-placed Pirate’s Cove before ultimately out-doing fellow late-runner Big Brown Bear to win by a neck.
The Lincoln Navigator, a 2000 metre handicap, looked competitive on paper but proved to be a fairly straightforward task for the Ali Rashid Al Rayhi-trained Key Bid. With Fernando Jara in the saddle, the winner picked up stylishly in the lane to outrun Welford for the victory by a length and a quarter. The leading pair were comfortably clear of Albernathy in third, making for a 1-2-3 finish for sire Dubawi.
The concluding 1400 metre handicap, the Lincoln Continental Trophy, was won by the Ahmad bin Harmash-trained Rodaini, who edged a stubborn Seemar-trained Bochart in the final yards by a short head under Connor Beasley.