The Gr2 Maktoum Challenge Round 2 at Meydan on Thursday evening was won emphatically, while controlled from start to finish, by Ramzan Kadyrov’s Satish Seemar-trained North America.
Thursday’s sixth meeting of the 2019 Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan Racecourse was highlighted by the Gr 2 $450,000 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 sponsored by Al Naboodah Allied Products Division over 1900m on the dirt and boasting a purse of $450,000.
Also on tap was the classic Group 3 $250,000 UAE 2000 Guineas, as well as multiple handicaps with Dubai World Cup night implications.
Ridden by Richard Mullen, North America, a son of Dubawi struck the front from the outset and never looked back, winning with easy by 2¼ lengths over New Trails (Connor Beasley aboard) and Cosmo Charlie (Pat Dobbs) in a time of 1:58.65. Senior Investment (Pat Cosgrave), Etijaah (Jim Crowley) and Second Summer (Royston Ffrench) completed the order of finish.
Last year, the now 7-year-old lost a heart-pounding battle with subsequent Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow by a neck in the race before going on to defeat that rival handily in the Gr1 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3. He now has the option of going on to defend that title or wait for the Dubai World Cup, for which he must now be considered the lukewarm favourite.
The victory was his seventh from 11 dirt tries and 17 races overall. It follows an even more dominant victory in the Gr2 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 over 1600m in early January,
“He is a bit like his jockey, improving with age,” Mullen said. “A lot was made out of his (dominant) first run and it is hard for a horse to replicate what he did. Yes, he was visibly impressive and I always had it in the back of my mind that I thought he would win this race, but I didn’t think he would do it in the manner in which he did. It is very hard for a horse to back that up. A lot of it was freshness and a lot of it was obviously adrenaline.
“He is a top-class horse and he likes the surroundings,” Mullen continued. “He has a beautiful stride and I think that is what kills a lot of the other horses off. His stride pattern is so different to the others; just half-pacing around there. That was phase one and phase two complete and now two more to go or maybe just one. We will sit down with the boss and speak to the owner and see if we skip Round 3 or freshen him up and go to the big night. He is going in the right direction.”
“The thing is, he did it his style and that’s what is important for this horse, the way he just jumped out and went on his way,” Seemar added. “Richie didn’t even touch him and he was doing it on his own. Richie, even though he knew horses were coming, he and the horse knew they could take another stride and (hold them off). It was exactly what we wanted. We have time now and we may or may not go for the (Group 1 $600,000 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3) on Super Saturday.”
Earlier, over 1600m on the dirt surface, the Gr3 UAE 2000 Guineas sponsored by Al Naboodah Ashok Leyland Partnership was turned into somewhat of a procession by Godolphin’s Estihdaaf who, having been slowly away, was rousted to lead by Christophe Soumillon to take advantage of the number one stall. Once in front, the 3-year-old Arch colt travelled extremely well before shaking off heavy favourite Walking Thunder (Connor Beasley aboard) and handing trainer Saeed bin Suroor a seventh victory in the race. Two years ago, Soumillon and Bin Suroor landed the spoils with Thunder Snow. A homebred, the dark bay colt is out of a full-sister to multi-surface Group 1 winner and Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) runner-up Better Lucky, as well as a great-grandson of Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) winner Desert Stormer.Weupo