Racing returns to Meydan with Down On Da Bayou leading charge in season opener

The 2020 UAE Oaks winner heads field in featured handicap over the mile trip

Royston Ffrench steers Down On Da Bayou to victory at Jebel Ali in January, 2022. Photo: DHRIC
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UAE's racing season steps up the pace this Friday with the first Meydan meeting of the new campaign.

The season kicked off last week with three meetings across Al Ain, Jebel Ali and Sharjah, but the first at the racing headquarters brings out the quality with a seven-race card for the thoroughbreds highlighted by a couple of handicaps for horses rated 80 to 100.

Down On Da Bayou, the 2020 Group 3 UAE Oaks winner, in the silks of the Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed heads the 10-runner field run over the 1,600-metre distance.

Trained by Salem bin Ghadayer and with Royston Ffrench in the saddle, the five year old mare won twice, at Jebel Ali, last season during which she was mostly in good form throughout.

Doug Watson has three entered in the race with stable jockey Pat Dobbs aboard Faithful Soldier, winner of half his four career starts to date.

MEYDAN RACECARD

6pm Arabian Adventures – Maiden (TB) Dh82,500 (Dirt) 1,200m
6.35pm Emirates Sky Cargo – Handicap (TB) 87,500 (D) 2,000m
7.10pm Emirates Holiday – Maiden (TB) Dh82,500 (D) 1,400m
7.45pm Emirates Skywards – Handicap (TB) Dh87,500 (D) 1,400m
8.20pm Emirates Airline – Handicap (TB) Dh105,000 (D) 1,600m
8.55pm Emirates Airline – Handicap (TB) Dh105,000 (D) 1,900m
9.30pm Emirates.com – Handicap (TB_ Dh87,500 (D) 1,200m

Scabbard under Sam Hitchcott and Far Sky with Dane O’Neill on top of, complete Watson’s trio.

“They are all in good form,” the American said. “Far Sky seems to have matured and like Scabbard has plenty of experience whereas Faithful Soldier has shown lots of potential in just four starts. Hopefully they can all run well in a competitive looking field.”

The second of the joint features is a 1,900m handicap in which Watson saddles Al Qaqaa, a 2000m handicap winner on this card last year under Dobbs for Shadwell. O’Neill, retained by the owners, is in the saddle on this occasion.

Bin Ghadayer and the UAE champion trainer Bhupat Seemar are both doubled handed in the seven-runner race.

Book Review is Ffrench’s choice ahead of stablemate Grand Bazaar of the Bin Ghadayer’s duo, while champion jockey Tadhg O’Shea rides George Villiers of the two Seemar runners. Apprentice Connor Planas is on-board Twelfthofneverland in the Zabeel Stables’ other runner.

“It took a while to get George Villiers going last season but we have been able to get him ready early this time,” Seemar said of the seven year old Dubawi gelding.

“He runs here and will then go to Sharjah where he won a nice prize last season. He is doing good at home as is Twelfthofneverland.

“He is lazy at home so it is not always easy to gauge but he seems in good form and ready for a race. He has a good record under apprentices so we were happy to put Connor up.”

Updated: November 04, 2022, 2:39 AM
MEYDAN RACECARD

6pm Arabian Adventures – Maiden (TB) Dh82,500 (Dirt) 1,200m
6.35pm Emirates Sky Cargo – Handicap (TB) 87,500 (D) 2,000m
7.10pm Emirates Holiday – Maiden (TB) Dh82,500 (D) 1,400m
7.45pm Emirates Skywards – Handicap (TB) Dh87,500 (D) 1,400m
8.20pm Emirates Airline – Handicap (TB) Dh105,000 (D) 1,600m
8.55pm Emirates Airline – Handicap (TB) Dh105,000 (D) 1,900m
9.30pm Emirates.com – Handicap (TB_ Dh87,500 (D) 1,200m

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