DUBAI // Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor improved his formidable record in the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge I, the 1,600m Tapeta feature on the opening meeting of the 2014 Dubai World Cup Carnival.
Shuruq, under jockey Silvestre De Sousa, supplied her trainer with an eighth win in the race, marking the first time a filly won the prestigious contest.
Kieren Fallon set off to try to make the running on Empire Storm, and they had most of their nine rivals early in the straight, only for De Sousa to push Shuruq with a withering run to lead close home. Fallon’s mount held on for a second.
“Shuruq just loves this Tapeta surface and seems to enjoy the Dubai weather as well,” De Sousa said. “She should certainly improve with the run under her belt and she showed last year she stays further than this, so, hopefully, there are plenty of options for her throughout the Carnival.
“It is always nice to get a winner at the first meeting, especially in the feature, and to win this race eight times is a big feat for Saeed and the whole team.”
South African Mike De Kock, by far the most successful international trainer in the history of the Carnival, opened his account for the campaign with the smooth victory of Mushreq in the Listed Singspiel Stakes, an 1,800m race on the turf.
Paul Hanagan, riding for his main employer Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, was in the saddle and the pair hit the front about 300m out, finishing strongly to hold the challenge of UK raider Gabrial.
“That is particularly pleasing as we really thought he would need the run and he just kept improving throughout the campaign last year,” De Kock said. “Hopefully, he can repeat that trend this year.
“He was a Group 2 winner last season and only beaten six lengths in the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free on World Cup night. That will hopefully be the target again.”
The trainer completed a double when Christophe Soumillon and Anaerobio landed the concluding 1,400m turf handicap.
“That was a good win and he will improve fitness wise with that run under his belt,” Soumillon said. “I’m just happy to get that first winner of the year.”
The 1,000m turf handicap, the first Thoroughbred race of the Carnival, was won by Ahtoug, a first UAE runner for new Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby and ridden by Mickael Barzalona. “That is a great start to my Carnival and I am just so grateful to have this fantastic opportunity,” Appleby said.
The jockey and trainer completed a double with the last-gasp victory of Fulbright in a 1,400m Tapeta handicap, the pair denying stable companion Modern History in the final strides.
“I was happy to take my time out the back and, once I pulled him out, he ran on very strongly,” Barzalona said. “He has some very good form in the book and clearly retains plenty of ability.”
Twelve months ago, Majed Al Jahouri saddled Areem to beat stable companions Dariya and Naseem in the Group 1 Purebred Arabian Al Maktoum Challenge I, over 1,600m on Tapeta, but this year, Naseem landed the spoils, from stable companion Rabah De Carrere.
Areem was fourth.
“My horse stays a lot further so the fact they went very quickly was a great help and, in the end, I probably hit the front too soon,” winning jockey Harry Bentley said.
Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan owns all the Al Jahouri-trained runners.
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