North America took out the renewal of the $350,000 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1, whilst Walking Thunder was in equally dominant form by easing to victory in the UAE 2,000 Guineas Trial.
The official feature of the evening, the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1, was turned into a procession by North America who was having his first start since a hugely disappointing performance in the 2018 Dubai World Cup.
Third in this race 12 months ago behind subsequent World Cup winner Thunder Snow and Heavy Metal who was unable to lead this time, North America was never headed under Richard Mullen who was riding for main employer Satish Seemar and owner Ramzan Kadyrov. The victory by nine lengths from the Doug Watson-trained duo of Kimbear in a distant second and Godolphin Mile runner-up Muntazah a further two lengths back in third emphasises just how dominant North America was.
Mullen said afterwards: “Considering we thought he’d need the run and is better over further we have to be delighted with that.
“I was always happy out in front and could not believe how well I was travelling or how far clear I was. Hopefully we can get to World Cup night in this kind of form.”
The UAE 2,000 Guineas Trial was an equally comfortable proposition for the Ahmad bin Harmash-trained Walking Thunder.
Winner of both his previous starts as a juvenile, the winner never looked in any trouble over the same 1600 metre dirt course under Connor Beasley despite being drawn widest of all. Having stalked early leader Power Link, the pair simply tormed clear in the straight to win by an impressive nine lengths. Manguzi was the distant runner-up with Al Seel Legacy’s a further six lengths adrift in third.
Beasley said: “This horse is improving all the time and learning on the job. He did that very well and must have a live chance in the UAE 2,000 Guineas.”
Bin Harmash and Beasley went on to complete a double in the penultimate race of the evening thanks to an easy victory for New Trails in the 1900 metre dirt handicap, the Special Olympics Cup.
The joint favourite is seen by many to be improving all the time and is in line to head to the $450,000 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 (G2) on 7 February after destroying his rivals on this occasion by ten and a half lengths. Tried And True came in second from Key Bid who was just over two lengths further back in third.
A new race this year, the Dubai Trophy sponsored by Masdar, a 1400 metre turf conditions contest for three-year-olds, was won in determined fashion by Godolphin’s Good Fortune, providing a first 2019 Carnival winner for both Charlie Appleby and James Doyle.
Never far off the pace, Doyle asked the New Approach colt to challenge at the top of the straight with the pair hitting the front about 350 metres from home before drifting slightly across the track, but never appearing in much danger to win by three-quarters of a length. The David Simcock-trained Woven did ran on well to take second as did Trolius to be third, which provided a small consolation for trainer Simon Crisford, whose favoured Sporting Chance disappointed in 12th of the 16 runners.
The Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi World Class Healthcare Cup, a 1200 metre turf handicap, was an absolute thriller with 13 going to post and six of them locked in battle throughout the final 50 metres.
In the end it was the Jamie Osborne-trained Dream Today, ridden by Chris Hayes, who pulled off the victory by a short head from Abrantes in second and Intisaab in third by the same distance.
The only Purebred Arabian race on the card, the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 over 1600 metres on dirt, provided trainer Mohamed Ali with his first winner of the season when Wadeeaa was never headed in her dirt debut.
Owned and bred by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the five-year-old mare flew out the stalls under Szczepan Mazur and proceeded to hold off the field in an impressive start-to-finish win.
The final race of the evening, the Cepsa Energy Cup, a 1600 metre turf handicap, was won impressively by Mike de Kock’s 7-year-old Baroot, who was making his first start since March last year.
Owned by Sheikh Ahmed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, the son of Dubawi closed from the tail-end of the field to pounce on his rivals and win with authority under Adrie De Vries. Race favourite On The Warp was two lengths back in second with Silent Attack a close third only by a nose.
The next racing at Meydan is next Thursday, 17 January, with the third meeting of the 2019 Dubai World Cup Carnival.