First Winter On Carnival Radar

6yo follows up on last victory

The Dubai World Cup Carnival beckons for First Winter who followed up his success of two weeks’ ago with an even more impressive victory in the Dubai Creek Harbour by Emaar Handicap, over 2000m on turf – one of the highlights of the eight-race card at Meydan Racecourse on Sunday.

Ridden by Ray Dawson for Ahmad Bin Harmash, the six-year-old worked his way into contention early in the straight and bounded clear once asked to at the 300metre marker, opening up for a three and three-quarter length margin over the hat-trick seeking Sari Dubai.

Ray Dawson steers First Winter home (Pic – DRC)

“He was probably a bit fresh for his first two runs,” said Dawson, whose mount is now likely to earn the 90 or higher rating required for the Carnival, having won here off 88. “But it all went to plan last time and he was probably a little bit fitter today. They went a good gallop early on which is key to this lad as he can be very keen. He’s on an upward trajectory.

“I’m delighted for Ahmad and the team. The yard’s going very well at the moment.”

There was a surprise in the Rashid Yachts and Marina Cup which followed, when Abshrek bounced back to winning ways, upsetting Godolphin’s hot favourite Sense Of Power, who faded into eleventh.

Ridden by Oscar Chavez, Abshrek, a maiden winner here two starts ago but beaten 14 lengths last time, led from the off in the 1400m turf handicap and looked hard to pin back as the field swung for home. So it proved, and he crossed the line three-quarters of a length ahead of the late-closing Perfect Love.

“I was told to remember that he has a tendency to lay out and so I made sure I was able to give him a breather,” said Chavez after his 14th win of the season. “He came back to me nicely and then when we turned for home he gave me an extra gear. He was fantastic today.”

Earlier on, there was a double for Brazilian jockey Bernardo Pinheiro who won the opening Valley by Emaar Purebred Arabians’ Conditions event on Najm Al Wathba for trainer Majed Al Jahoori. The four-year-old won by twelve and a half lengths on his previous start at Al Ain and he was dominant again here, heading into the straight with a slender lead and extending it to two and a half lengths at the line.

Pinheiro was back in the Winner’s Enclosure two races later when the filly Noor Bano won at the fifth attempt in the Emaar Beachfront Maiden, over 1400metres on turf. Trained by Ismail Mohammed, the three-year-old had been third twice in sprint races at the Carnival but pounced quickly on the leaders with 400metres left to travel and saw it out well, winning by a head from Silent Defense, with Kal Barg third.

“My only worry was that it was her first time going seven furlongs, first time around the turn and that she’s only a small filly who just ran nine days ago,” said Pinheiro. “I rode her very confidently as she ran an amazing race the last two times at the Carnival.”

Mickael Barzalona and Salem Bin Ghadayer dropped down a few rungs from their Classic win on Friday, but all winners count and Made In Dubai was an overdue one when he took the Arabian Ranches by Emaar Maiden.

The four-year-old had been placed on five of his previous ten starts but cheekpieces may have made a difference here as he travelled notably well behind the leaders and soon dispatched Kefaaf, winning by three-quarters of a length.

It took Lake Causeway 20 starts to break his maiden, but the Bhupat Seemar-trained grey now has two wins on his CV after following up his Abu Dhabi success in the Dubai Hills Estate by Emaar Handicap, over 1400metres on dirt.

Ridden by Antonio Fresu, the grey sneaked through a gap on the rail on the home turn and stuck well to his task to get the better of the battling Triple Venture by a neck.

“This horse is pretty consistent and he’s always run good races,” said Fresu. “He’s probably got more confident after breaking his maiden. The pace was pretty fast and I wasn’t travelling really well but I had a good draw so I saved some ground around the bend and then was lucky enough to get the gap. He quickened up really well and kept on fighting.”

Fresu went on to ride a treble, the middle leg of which came on Branwell, who took the Downtown Dubai by Emaar Handicap, race six, over 2200metres on dirt. A competitive race saw three recent course winners in the line-up but Branwell joined leader True Accolade 300metres from home and ground out the win by two lengths from Alhzeem.

It was Branwell’s second success since joining Musabbeh Al Mheiri and Fresu was impressed, saying: “I was actually disappointed last time, when maybe it didn’t work out on the grass. I just sat behind the pace today and he travelled beautifully behind them. He’s still improving and hopefully he can give us more.”

Fresu and Al Mheiri also won the last, when Law Of Nature collected his second local race but first since November 2021. Drawn in 12 in the 1800m turf Burj Khalifa by Emaar Handicap, he was able to come with a sustained run towards the outside of the field and outbattle Capla Crusader by a length and a quarter.

Meydan Racecourse is back in action on Friday 24 February, for the eighth meeting of the Dubai World Cup Carnival.

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