Racing at Meydan on Thursday is highlighted by a pair of stakes contests, one each for the Purebred Arabians and Thoroughbreds.
The latter, the Dubai Creek Mile sponsored by Mubadala (Listed), is a high-class renewal with seven quality declarations, rated between 98-113, including Group 2 winner Heavy Metal, Group 3 winners Kimbear and Secret Ambition and Listed winners Yulong Warrior and Rodaini. Dubai World Cup Carnival winners Manguzi and Thegreatcollection complete the field.
The fixture is the final one at Meydan in 2019 with the next one, in a fortnight, being the opening meeting of the 2020 Dubai World Cup Carnival.
Course and distance specialist Heavy Metal, winner of this in 2017, whose eight Meydan dirt victories include seven at this 1600m trip, won the 2018 renewals of both the Al Maktoum Challenge R1 (G2) and Godolphin Mile sponsored by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum City—District One (G2).
Now a 9-year-old, that Godolphin Mile victory remains his latest victory after four runs last season, culminating with a close second in a Godolphin Mile defence attempt to Coal Front.
Trained by Salem bin Ghadayer for HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, Heavy Metal, the mount of Royston Ffrench, is seeking to become the second dual Dubai Creek Mile winner, but first to regain the crown, after Surfer who won the inaugural event in 2013 and followed up 12 months later.
“Obviously, we know conditions suit him and he is ready for a race as he has been going well at home,” Bin Ghadayer said. “He has the widest draw, but it is only a small field, so hopefully he can break well and get into a good early position.”
Two places behind Bin Ghadayer’s charge in the 2019 Godolphin Mile was Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi’s Kimbear, one of two in this race for Doug Watson. The choice of Pat Dobbs, the 5-year-old Temple City entire has two 1600m Meydan victories to his name, most recently the Burj Nahaar (G3) on Super Saturday 2018.
Sam Hitchcott rides stable companion Thegreatcollection, a dual course and distance winner and one of three runners in the field who have the benefit of a run this season. The still-improving type finished fourth under a heavy imposition over this trip and appears primed for a top effort.
“I am very happy with them both. Thegreatcollection ran very well first time and has come out of that race in great form,” Watson said. “Kimbear is a horse we have always really liked, but has had niggling hoof issues which, hopefully, he is over now. We are looking forward to running them both and hoping for big runs.”
Secret Ambition—who chased home Kimbear in the aforementioned 2018 Burj Nahaar (G3)—and Yulong Warrior both represent Satish Seemar with Tadhg O’Shea on the former and Zabeel’s first rider Richard Mullen preferring the latter.
One place behind Kimbear in the 2019 Godolphin Mile (G2), Secret Ambition is owned by Nasir Askar, whose horses have been in top form this season. The son of Exceed and Excel beat Thegreatcollection in a course and distance handicap in January 2018 and returned to the winner’s enclosure in the Jebel Ali Mile (G3) one year later. Back with Seemar after a spell in the US with Doug O’Neill, which included one minor stakes victory, Yulong Warrior won twice at Meydan in 2018 as a 3-year-old, highlighted by his Super Saturday success in the 1900m Al Bastakiya (Listed).
Assistant trainer Bhupat Seemar said: “This will be the minimum trip for Yulong Warrior, but we are very happy with him and this looks a good start point for his season. It is nice to have him back. Secret Ambition is a tough, consistent horse who has been working well and should run a good race.”
Both Rodaini and Manguzi look to improve upon disappointing runs last out, but have the fitness benefit of runs this season. The latter, winner of the Al Bastakiya Trial (Listed) in February over 1900m and a good third in the UAE Derby (G2), cuts back in trip from 2000m of The Entisar (Listed) two weeks ago and receives between .5-2kgs from his older rivals.
Over 1900m the Madjani Stakes (PA Group 3) sponsored by Masdar has attracted the maximum allowed field of 16 and looks wide open. On official ratings, Chaddad, representing the same connections as Heavy Metal, is the one to beat. Most recently third in the valuable Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown on the Abu Dhabi turf, he does have form on the Meydan dirt, finishing second in the 2018 Dubai Kahayla Classic sponsored by Mubadala (G1) over 2000m.
The inaugural running, in 2016, was won by Bon Baiser De Faust, chased home by Sauternes De Maury, both trained by Doug Watson for His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum and each returning in this spot as 8- and 7-year-old geldings.
“They are two nice horses and we know conditions suit them,” Watson said. “They are working well and hopefully they can run to the level they did when first and second in 2016.”
As winner of the 1600m Al Maktoum Challenge R1 (PA G1), Goshawke has to concede weight to his 15 rivals, with Ziyadd, Amwaj and Mawahib, winner of this in 2018, just three others to consider.
The card is completed by a pair of handicaps and two juvenile maidens, one apiece for the fillies, the other for colts and geldings.
Both have attracted an American Pharoah newcomer, with Crseven, named after world-famous footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, facing 15 rivals over 1600m. Xavier Ziani rides the colt, out of a full-sister to Quality Road, for Bin Ghadayer and the Phoenix Ladies Syndicate. Main rivals include Askar’s improving Dark of Night, rated 75 after finishing second two weeks ago in his dirt debut, debuting Bin Ghadayer stablemate What a Metal and the Watson-trained pair of Far Sky and Astro Ford.
Kimbear’s connections of Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi and Watson combine with debutante Rawwani, one of two for the owner and three from Red Stables in the fillies’ race over 1400m. Chief rivals appear to be highly regarded Bin Ghadayer pupil Down on Da Bayou, well-bred second-time starter Early Motion and yard-mate Tapi Sioux.