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Godolphin`s Acolyte Sets Out Carnival Stall with Meydan Sprint Win

Acolyte storms home
Photo: Dubai Racing Club//Andrew Watkins

Racing at Meydan on Saturday was highlighted by the Al Naboodah Travel Trophy, a seemingly ultra-competitive 1200m turf handicap won emphatically by Godolphin’s Acolyte.

Making his first start in the world famous blue silks for Saeed Bin Suroor, having previously been trained by Roger Charlton for whom he won three times, on the all-weather, Acolyte was returning to racecourse action having not been seen in public since October 2015.

Always travelling strongly under Harry Bentley, he stormed to the front just under halfway and never looked in danger of being caught.

This victory should now open up opportunities for him at the 2017 Dubai World Cup Carnival and he clearly impressed his jockey.

“I was a bit surprised early on because the race appeared to be unfolding on the other side to where we were,” said Bentley. “But I always had a lot of horse under me and he carried me into contention easily.

“We probably ended up hitting the front a bit too soon but it was a good effort and, hopefully, he can have a crack at a Carnival race now.

“On this evidence 1400m will be well within his compass so there should be a few nice options for him.”

Jockey Pat Cosgrave has had a pleasing week of UAE racing, winning three times in the space of three meetings for UAE-based owner, Fathi Esaed Mohd Egziama. The first two came at successive Al Ain meetings while the third took place aboard the progressive-looking Shoreditch in the Al Naboodah Lighting and Electricals Trophy over 1200m on the dirt.

Trained by Musabbeh Al Mheiri, who was completing a double on the night, Shoreditch was never far off the pace before Cosgrave drove his mount to lead over 300m out. The pair soon put distance between themselves, early leader, Mutahaddith and Ticket Holder, another who had raced prominently.

Only Raven’s Corner was able to make any ground from the rest of the field, finally claiming second close home.

“He just wants to try his best for you which is a big part of the battle,” said Cosgrave. “It seemed a good race as we were going pretty quick and he would cope well with 1400m judged on this effort.”

Cosgrave was back in the Winner’s Enclosure for the closing 1600m turf handicap, the Al Naboodah Travel And Tourism Trophy. This time he was riding Baroot for South African trainer, Mike de Kock.

Eight went to post for the opener, the Al Naboodah Cargo Trophy, a 1400m turf maiden restricted to three-year-olds, but very few managed to throw down a serious challenge.

One who certainly did was the Rashed Boursley-trained Kahrab, given a confident ride by Bruno Reis to land the spoils and lose his maiden tag at the eighth attempt on his fourth start, but first on turf, in the UAE.

Trainer and jockey were denied a double when Globalist was second, albeit at a distance of seven lengths behind the impressive Vivernus in a 1900m dirt maiden, the SELVA Middle East Trophy.

Having just his fifth career start, and third in the UAE since joining Al Mheiri, the winner was initially settled in the middle of the 15 runners.

He was then rushed up by jockey Fernando Jara to chase the leaders and, once they hit the front early in the straight, the race was over as a contest.

“He did that in style,” said Jara. “I was quite happy to take my time in the first half of the race and then he really picked up nicely when I asked him.

“Hopefully he is improving and can progress again from this effort.”

Trained by Ahmad bin Harmash, Ormindo looked as though he would run out the easy winner of the Al Naboodah Electricals Trophy, a 2200m dirt handicap, when cruising to the front 300m from home under Colm O’Donoghue.

Jockey Pat Dobbs and Diwaan fought back gamely to make a real race of it before having to settle for the runner-up spot.
For Ormindo, it was a second consecutive victory after a smooth success at Jebel Ali on his previous outing.

“He travels very strongly as we saw today and, in fairness, he found plenty for pressure,” said O’Donoghue. “It was a longer trip but he won over 1800m at Jebel Ali so were pretty confident he would stay and, hopefully, he is on a bit of a roll now.”

The 2000m dirt handicap, the Al Naboodah Agriculture Trophy, was dominated by trainer Salem bin Ghadayer who saddled Fraserburgh to thwart stable companion, Aslan, in a driving finish.

Both are owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum with Xavier Ziani aboard the winner and Sam Hitchcott on the second.

“It is a great result for the whole team,” said Ziani. “I had a bad draw out wide but was able to get some cover after which I was always pretty confident.

“It was a narrow gap we went through on the rail but he was brave and responded when I needed him to.”