Need To Know Spoils Meydan`s Polar River Party

Need To Know - Tadhg O`Shea
Photo: Erika Rasmussen

Grandstand Stables Land Meydan Double – Zabeel Claims a Treble

The admirable Need To Know put in a workmanlike performance to claim the Gulf News Conditions race at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday, a race featuring the 2016 UAE Oaks and Guineas heroine, Polar River who could only finish fourth.

The 2016 UAE Derby runner up, Polar River, giving weight to her older male rivals, had started hot favourite but was unable to reach the front.

Instead the battle for the line played out between the Ali Rashid Al Rayhi-trained Need To Know, runner up, Heavy Metal prepared by Salem Bin Ghadayer and Ennobled Friend trained by Ahmad Bin Harmash who was third.

Need To Know was second in the equivalent race last year but he made no mistake this time, showing the benefit of an outing at Abu Dhabi just last Sunday.

Sixth on that occasion on the Abu Dhabi turf, he bounced back to winning ways here under a determined drive by UAE Champion Jockey, Tadhg O’Shea.

Settled in midfield, Need To Know was asked to chase the leaders on the home turn. He only hit front 100m from the line yet ultimately posted a relatively comfortable success.

“This is a really tough horse,” said O’Shea. “Just look at his form; he has been to Jebel Ali, China, Korea, Abu Dhabi and back to Meydan in his last five starts.

“He has always been a model of consistency and really appreciated the fast pace early on tonight.”

The Al Rayhi-O’Shea combination found themselves back in the winner’s enclosure following the last race of the evening with Trinity Force who claimed the 2000m Handicap.

Of Polar River fortunes, trainer Doug Watson was philosophical commenting that she would come on for this, her first run of the season.

Earlier the meeting had been dominated by a Satish Seemar treble.

The opening Xpress Maiden for juveniles over 1400m in which six went to post was claimed by stable jockey, Richard Mullen on Mufeed, who was making a winning racecourse debut for owner Sheikh Mohd bin Khalifa Al Maktoum.

“He has a big, strong, powerful, raw horse who is very much on a learning curve but has the ability to win on debut here,” said Mullen.

“He is a winner now so will have to go up in grade and I imagine we will wait until next year and perhaps the Guineas Trial.

“He has plenty of speed but was running on again at the end and I struggled to pull him up. We will learn an awful lot more about him next time.”

The second maiden, the Property Weekly over 1600m, also went the way of Seemar but, on this occasion, Mullen was on the wrong one and partnered runner-up Scandicci, in a race that was turned into a procession by North America.

Dutchman Adrie de Vries was aboard the winner who was fast out of the stalls, never headed and posted a very comfortable victory.

“We were drawn wide but he jumped very quickly so I was happy to go to the front,” said De Vries. “He is a very big horse and, hopefully, will only improve.”

Mullen joked ‘at least I did not have a choice to make this time’ following the smooth success of Sky Jockey in a 1600m handicap, a third victory in the first four races for Seemar.

Happy to stalk the early pace, Mullen committed his mount for home halfway up the straight and the race was always in safe keeping.

“Hopefully this horse has started to grow up because he has always had the ability but has not always been the most straightforward,” said Mullen. “He did it well tonight and, hopefully, can build on this.”

Trainer Beverley Deutrom doubled her UAE tally and celebrated a first Meydan winner with the game success of Ticket Holder in a 1200m handicap.

Never far off the speed under Royston Ffrench, Deutrom’s charge hit the front at the top of the straight and never looked likely to be caught.

“I rode him last season over 1400m and thought a drop to 1200m would be just the ticket,” said Ffrench. “He travelled really strongly before digging deep when he need to.
“It is a great result for the trainer and her team.”

Jockey Dane O’Neill and the Ahmad bin Harmash-trained Fitzgerald took the penultimate event, the Friday Handicap over 1400m. One of four abreast with 300m left to run, Fitzgerald produced a telling turn of foot to win comfortably and was chased home by stable companion, Bannock, who flashed home too late under Xavier Ziani.

“I did not ride him but he ran a great race here a fortnight ago over 1200m,” said O’Neill. “That gave him a massive chance tonight and he has delivered the goods in style.”