Golden Goal landed the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge Round-1, the most valuable prize in the seven-race card in the Dubai World Cup Carnival’s opening meeting at Meydan on Friday.
The Doug Watson-trained Dark Angel gelding with Sam Hitchcock in the saddle held on gamely to get the better of Bhupat Seemar’s pair Secret Ambition under Tadhg O’Shea and Kafoo ridden by William Buick by one and-a-half length and three and-a-quarter lengths respectively.
“We knew after he ran in the [Listed] Creek Mile four weeks ago that he usually needs his first run,” Watson said after Golden Goal avenged his defeat to Secret Ambition in the Godolphin Mile on the Dubai World Cup night last year.
“Most of our horses are running off in eight-nine months layoff and I thought he'd improve tonight. He had a good draw and Sam gave him a good ride and we were able to hold off Secret Ambition.”
The second Group 2 prize on the night, the Cape Verdi for fillies and mares, was scooped by France-based Japanese trainer Hiroo Shimizu’s Pevensey Bay with Olivier Peslier on top.
The Footstepsinthesand mare finished like a bullet-train to Ascot Brass and Godolphin’s Wedding Dance by three quarter lengths and half a length, respectively.
“She’s like the French horses, very tough,” Peslier said. “I know her and I know that she has a very good turn of foot. In fact, the last two furlongs she was doing very well.
“I'm very surprised that the last two furlongs it was very rough inside but when I came outside, she changed her legs and she showed her acceleration.”
Godolphin clinched the double on the night, with Saeed bin Suroor celebrating his first winner of the year at Meydan with Dubai Future and Charlie Appleby’s Sovereign Prince completing the double.
Dubai Future under Patrick Cosgrave burst through the pack to take the Listed Dubai Racing Club Classic, the third race in the card.
“The horse, he always tries well,” the Emirati said of the Dubawi gelding. “This is his best trip, a mile and a half.
“He’s doing well, always working nicely in the morning. He has a good turn of foot. He won well, by four lengths. I want to see how he comes out of the race but we’ll look at a Listed or Group race for him after this.”
The royal blues were in the winner’s enclosure again when Buick steered the Sovereign Prince to a facile victory in the Jumeirah Classic Trial 35 minutes later.
RB Rich Lyke Me followed up his impressive debut win in the Group 2 Baniyas at Meydan seven weeks ago with another resounding success in the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge Round-1 for the Purebred Arabians.
Drawn in gate 1, Adries de Vries grabbed the inside rail and the lead, and then stayed motionless on the bridle as the chasing pack struggled to keep pace behind the leader.
He went clear from 600 metres before being eased approaching the winning line to win by four lengths from Jean-Claude Pecout’s Brraq under Pat Dobbs.
“He’s a lovely horse,” De Vries said. “You can drop him in if he goes too fast. He’s not keen when he has horses upside him. You can decide to take him back and do whatever you want. He’s very professional.”
RB Rich Lyke Me’s next race may be in the $2 million Obaiya Arabian Classic at the Saudi Cup meeting on February 26.
“I’ve heard rumours [it will be] Saudi Arabia,” the winning rider said when asked where he goes next.
“But it’s up to Fawzi and the owner Sheikh Nasser [bin Hamad Al Khalifa]. He seems to handle this track beautifully. Saudi is a very different surface. I don’t know what the best option is but I’ll leave that up to Fawzi.”
6pm: Al Maktoum Challenge Round-1 — Group 1 (PA) $50,000 (Dirt) 1,600 metre
Winner: RB Rich Lyke Me, Adrie de Vries (jockey), Fawzi Nass (trainer)
6.35pm: Festival City Stakes — Conditions (TB) $60,000 (D) 1,200 metre
Winner: Bet Law, Vagner Leal, Antonio Cintra Pereira
7.10pm: Dubai Racing Club Classic — Listed (TB) $100,000 (Turf) 2,410 metre
Winner: Dubai Future, Patrick Cosgrave, Saeed bin Suroor
7.45pm: Jumeirah Classic Trial — Conditions (TB) $150,000 (T) 1,400 metre
Winner: Sovereign Prince, William Buick, Charlie Appleby
8.20pm: Al Maktoum Challenge Round-1 — Group 2 (TB) $250,000 (D) 1,600 metre
Winner: Golden Goal, Sam Hitchcott, Doug Watson
8.55pm: Cape Verdi — Group 2 (TB) $180,000 (T) 1,600 metre
Winner: Pavensey Bay, Olivier Peslier, Hiroo Shimizu
9.30pm: Dubai Dash — Listed (TB) $100,000 (T) 1,000 metre
Winner: Mutaraffa, Antonio Fresu, Musabah Al Muhairi