Salute The Soldier became the first horse to win two editions of G1 Maktoum Challenge R3 (sponsored by Emirates Airline), rolling back the years in Super Saturday’s $450,000 feature.
Ridden by Adrie de Vries for Fawzi Nass, the eight-year-old was drawn wide in 10 and couldn’t take up his customary front-running role, as First Constitution took the field along over the 2000metre dirt course. Off the home turn it was favourite Bendoog who set sail for home, but Salute The Soldier soon loomed large on his outside and wasn’t stopping, powering to a two-length success, the tenth of his long career.
“We went fast and I was happy with my draw on the outside,” said de Vries. “I followed James [Doyle, on Bendoog] as he had, in my opinion, the horse to beat. I gave him a nice breather on the turn and he took him a while to pick up, but he seems to have a lot more stamina now and he made it look easy at the end.
“He wasn’t the same last season, for whatever reason, but the team have done an amazing job to get him back to his old form.”
Watch and wager on international racing at PlayUp Racebook. New players can earn up to a $250 bonus.
Rated 111 ahead of this race, Salute The Soldier’s connections will be hoping for another invitation to the $12million Dubai World Cup, in which he finished fifth in 2021.
It was a night to remember for owners Victorious, Nass and de Vries who 35 minutes earlier took the Listed Al Bastakiya when Go Soldier Go came from last to first for a breathtakingly narrow success.
Salute the Soldier Wins Maktoum Challenge R3
Turning for home in the 1900metre dirt event, prep for the G2 UAE Derby, it was Southern Artist and Ami Please who were locked in battle. When they began to tire, Mr Raj and Go Soldier Go swooped close home and the latter stole the win by a head.
It was a second win in the race for trainer Nass, who also took it in 2014 with Asmar, while his jockey was winning it for the first time.
“He takes time to get going, although he travelled OK,” said de Vries. “I was stuck behind beaten horses on the backside so then I had to rush him a bit, but he has plenty of stamina.
“Once he got out of the kickback he quickened up really well. I’ll just have to ride him the same way [in the G2 UAE Derby] and see if they go fast enough.”
Go Soldier Go, a son of Tapiture, is a graduate of the inaugural Dubai Breeze-up sale, having previously been through the Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
Alfareeq repeats in Jebel Hatta
There was some more history in the G1 Jebel Hatta (sponsored by Emirates.com) when Alfareeq became the first dual winner in the history of the race.
Trained by Musabbeh Al Mheiri and ridden by Dane O’Neill, for owners Shadwell, the grey beat well-fancied Godolphin runners Real World and Master Of The Seas in a hot edition of the G1 Dubai Turf prep, wearing home British raider El Drama late on for a narrow neck success.
“[El Drama] took a bit of passing but my lad is nothing if not tough,” said O’Neill, enjoying one of his best seasons to date in the UAE. “He’s been second on every start this season and he deserved that, but he dug deep for it.
“He was a little bit tricky when we first got him over here, as the training regime is quite different to France, so Musabbeh and the team have done an amazing job with him.”
Go to Whoa for Global Storm in G2 City of Gold
William Buick produced a frontrunning masterclass on Global Storm, all the way winner of the G2 Dubai City of Gold (sponsored by Emirates SkyCargo), prep race for the G1 Longines Dubai Sheema Classic.
Riding the six-year-old instead of the withdrawn Rebel’s Romance, Buick settled into an easy lead and his mount responded well in the final furlong to hold off stablemate Kemari by two and a half lengths. It was a good performance by the Night Of Thunder gelding on his first start since September and he gave Charlie Appleby a fifth win in the 2410metre turf contest.
“We had to work to get to the front, but he did everything right,” said Buick. “He relaxed well and when he picked up on the apex of the bend I thought it would take something decent to get past him. He was third in this race last year and he was third in the G2 Princess Of Wales’s at Newmarket, so he’s a pretty decent horse.”
“Charlie [Appleby] told me to ride him and he told me how to ride him, so I thank him for this one!”
Buick and Appleby combined for a double, winning the Ras Al Khor Stakes (sponsored by Emirates Airline) with Al Suhail.
Winner of the G2 Al Fahidi Fort over this course and distance, Al Suhail didn’t have a penalty here and made the most of an extremely nice opportunity. All the same, the performance was electric, lowering the track record in a four-length demolition job over San Donato, who closed well along the rail from the back of the field.
“I think that’s how we all read the race,” said Buick. “It was a very different set up to the Al Fahidi but he showed his versatility there and when he gets a good even pace to run at he has a huge engine.”
Quirky in the past, Buick suggested that the six-year-old may now be maturing.
“Off his last run here and today, he seems to be taking things in his stride a bit more,” he added. “I know he’s not a young horse anymore but he does seem to be learning.”
Boughey’s exciting sprinter goes three for three
Al Dasim looks a sprinter with a big future after taking his Meydan record to three from three in the G3 Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint, prep for the G1 Al Quoz Sprint.
Trained in the UK by George Boughey, the sole three-year-old in the field travelled just off the pace early on in the 1200metre turf event and then had to stick to his task to see off the determined Miqyaas, who leaned on him in the closing stages. Nevertheless the winning margin was a convincing two and a quarter lengths, with Thunder Of Niagara third.
“It was a big question mark today against the older horses and we were unlucky to get a bad draw, but he stuck his head down and did his best,” said winning jockey Mickael Barzalona. “He had to perform today and he did that. Now he will have to perform in the Al Quoz Sprint against the best horses in the world.”
Barzalona completed a double, also taking the closing G3 Mahab Al Shimaal. It can take US recruits a while to settle into life in Dubai but that wasn’t the case for Sound Money, who cruised home in the prep for the G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen.
Owners RRR Racing and trainer Bhupat Seemar already have Switzerland in the big race and now this son of Flatter will join him after a smooth win which saw him travel notably well heading into the straight. When Barzalona pressed the button, it was race over, and a two and a three-quarter length win over the same owner’s Isolate.
“He’s a very talented horse as he showed in the past in the US,” said Barzalona. “He broke good and I had plenty in my hands during the run.
“He did everything very professionally. He’s a massive horse so I think he will come on a lot for this race.”
It was a good day for Seemar, who earlier saw his Discovery Island put down a marker for the G2 Godolphin Mile with a grinding success in the G3 Burj Nahaar, over 1600metres on dirt.
Trained by Bhupat Seemar and ridden by James Doyle, the son of Dubawi, wearing blinkers for the first time, had five horses in front of him turning for home but got on terms just before the 100metre marker and was going away at the finish, beating Raaeb by a length and a half, with his stablemate Royal Mews back in third.
“He’s a horse with speed, but he makes you work for it as he’s never the sharpest away,” said Doyle, winning this race for the first time. “He sees out this trip really well so it wouldn’t surprise me if one day they went up in trip with him.”
Earlier on, Jugurtha De Monlau claimed his second successive win in the opening G1 Maktoum Challenge Round 3 for Purebred Arabians. Ridden by Pat Dobbs, they quickly established a pace duel with Kerless Del Roc but was always travelling much stronger than that rival and was able to go clear in the straight, winning by six lengths.
“He’s a bit of a character, although you could call him other names!” said Dobbs of the Jean-Claude Pecout-trained seven-year-old. “He has a lot of ability and Jean said he had a couple of wind ops, but on his day he’s very good. He got into a nice rhythm and was nice and relaxed. When I pushed the button he had a little more in reserve.”
Jugurtha De Monlau is now likely to earn an invitation to the $1million G1 Dubai Kahayla Classic on Dubai World Cup day, in which he finished tenth last year.
That big day will be the next time Meydan Racecourse stages live action. Nine races, including six Group 1s, are worth $30.5million in prizemoney. Tickets are available from dubairacingclub.com