It’s not often that a ten-year-old, two nine-year-olds, and two seven-year-olds contest a Listed race but it happens on Friday when golden oldies square off in the AED500,000 Dubai Creek Mile at Meydan Racecourse.
Winner of the Gr2 Godolphin Mile in 2021, ten-year-old Secret Ambition deserves top billing here.
The 12-time winner wrapped up last season with success at Jebel Ali and is trained by Bhupat Seemar, who also runs Al Nefud. Second in the Gr2 Maktoum Challenge R2 in 2022, Al Nefud has been purchased by owners the Burke family and will carry their silks for the first time. He is drawn wide in 11, while Secret Ambition, the winner of this race in 2019, will break from post one.
“I wish we could have swapped the draws!” said Seemar. “Both horses are in good form, but as most people know, our horses improve for a run.”
The trainer to follow so far this season has been Michael Costa, who is currently operating at a 32.2 per cent strike rate, having amassed 10 winners. He debuts the five-time US winner Home Brew, who joined the stable last season but has yet to run in the UAE.
“Home Brew has been working well and continuing to improve in every work out,” said the master of Jebel Ali Stables. “This is a nice starting point to kick off his preparation.”
Getting upwards of a kilo from her 12 rivals is three-year-old Mimi Kakushi, winner of the G3 UAE Oaks. The daughter of City Of Light was last seen finishing a respectable eighth in the G1 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs.
“Mimi is doing good,” said trainer Salem Bin Ghadayer. “She started a little late, as with the US trip I wanted to give her enough time to rest. I’d say she’s 70-85 per cent fit, but I’d prefer to give her one prep race before the Maktoum Challenge, which is her main aim, rather than give her two or three gallops.”
Trainer Doug Watson has an excellent record in this race; his three wins including last year with Prince Eiji, and his Thegreatcollection runs in it for a remarkable sixth time, including a win back in 2020. He faces stablemates Golden Goal and Everfast, both well capable of winning here.
- Franz Strauss targets Thunder Snow
The card’s main supporting race is the AED210,000 Nakheel-sponsored Thunder Snow Handicap, over 1900metres. One of the most exciting newcomers to racing in Dubai last season was Franz Strauss and the Curlin Handicap winner returns here for Seemar.
“Franz Strauss is bigger and stronger this year,” he said. “Not that he lacked that last year, but he’s put on some more muscle and is doing really well. Running first time out at 1900metres, carrying 60kg and conceding a lot of weight, is something we have the back of our minds, but he couldn’t be doing any better.”
Costa runs two, with Alhzeem the mount of stable jockey Ben Coen. Already a winner this season at Jebel Ali, the five-year-old takes on eight rivals, including stablemate Wessall, also successful on opening day at Jebel Ali.
“Alhzeem and Wessall both came through their first up runs well,” said Costa. “Wessall’s track work at Meydan suggests he will handle the Meydan surface. Both horses are building a layer of form and are in great order going into Friday.”
Deciduous was also an impressive Meydan winner last season, on turf, but trainer Bin Ghadayer is keen to test his dirt credentials again, after a below-par performance two weeks ago.
“We know he’s a very good horse on turf but he worked very well on dirt so I want to give him one more chance on dirt before we decide if we blame the surface or not,” said the trainer.
Future Stars Clash in Colts’ Maiden
The Nakheel-sponsored card features a pair of two-year-old maidens, with the 1400metre colts’ version, race four, looking fascinating.
Bin Ghadayer runs Velvet Cactus, a 200,000Euro son of Union Rags, who has a wide draw in 13 to overcome.
“Velvet Cactus – what can we say with that draw!? said the trainer. “We will have a lot of fun with him during the season. He’s a very nice horse and I’m sure he will be one of our good two-year-olds.”
Taking him on is two for Seemar; Mendelssohn Bay, with Champion Jockey Tadhg O’Shea onboard, and Prima Summer, the mount of Pat Cosgrave.
“Mendelssohn Bay is quirky but also quite talented,” said the trainer. “It depends if he decides to get his mind in the game. He is out of a Curlin mare so stamina shouldn’t be a worry. He is fit and ready to run.
“Prima Summer ran third first time out. He should have natural progression with experience and fitness.”
The card concludes with a three-year-old Conditions race, over 1600metres. Course winners Lahresh and Morning represent leading owner Naser Askar, while Bin Ghadayer fields Tiger Nation, impressive winner of the UAE Guineas Trial two starts ago.
“Tiger Nation; we must deal with that draw [eight of eight] which might not suit his style,” he said.
Heading here with race fitness in his corner is Seyouff, an eye-catching second against older horses over this course and distance two weeks ago.
“Seyouff exceeded expectations in his first up run considering where he was in his training programme,” said trainer Costa. “He has improved since and we expect to get a great run from the kind barrier .”
Meydan racing starts at 15h30.