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Godolphin`s Carnival Romance Rolls on with Winning Treble

Beautiful Romance wins the Nad Al Sheba Trophy
Dubai Racing Club / Andrew Watkins

A great night for the Godolphin team at Meydan on Thursday was highlighted by the game victory of Beautiful Romance in the featured Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy over 2810m on the turf, a third winner on the card in the famous blue.

Trained by Saeed bin Suroor, she was ridden positively by Oisin Murphy who, clearly worried about the sedate early pace being set by Los Barbados, sent the Godolphin mare for home fully 700m out.

Sheikhzayedroad, winner of the same race last year, tried to go with her but was soon outpaced and it was left to last year’s Dubai Gold Cup winner, Vazirabad, to appear out of the pack to give chase under Christophe Soumillon.

The pair appeared to be travelling strongly and closed to within a length of Murphy’s mount, who duly responded by quickening again, putting the race to bed in a few strides. Vazirabad was a clear second from Sheikhzayedroad in a quality renewal of the race.

“She is a lovely mare for a jockey to ride because you can put her anywhere in a race knowing she will settle and do what you want.

“I was keen to be positive on her and went for home a long way out because I knew she would just keep galloping and find plenty if I asked her again.
“That was a good performance because it was a strong field so Saeed and the team have done a great job to have her ready for this tonight.”

Earlier, the 7f Meydan Classic Sponsored by Al Naboodah Goodyear was dominated by the Godolphin racing operation which supplied the first three home in the Listed turf feature for three-year-olds.

However, it was Top Score, seemingly their third string, who landed the spoils with Adrie de Vries, sporting the red cap, denying Fly At Dawn, in the all blue, with Really Special splitting them.

Saeed bin Suroor saddled the first and third, Charlie Appleby the runner-up and it was eventually an exciting finish with the three in line hitting the final 200m before the winner quickened in style.

In doing so, Top Score became the first winner of the course and distance Meydan Class Trial to follow up in the big race.

“It was a stronger race than the trial,” said De Vries. “We actually missed the break but, as it transpired, that has probably helped us as I was able to get a nice lead. I did not want to hit the front too soon but I know this horse has plenty of speed so would quicken so waited on him. I am sure he would stay an extra 200m comfortably.”

Another Godolphin 1-2-3 followed immediately in the Al Naboodah Harley-Davidson® Trophy, a 2000m turf handicap won by the Appleby-trained Viren’s Army from stable companion Kidmenever with Bin Suroor’s Huge Future in third.

Ridden by Colm O’Donoghue, Viren’s Army was soon in front but was headed fully 1400m out by First Selection before regaining the initiative at the top of the straight.

He skipped clear and never looked likely to be caught.

“He disappointed me last time but perhaps did not stay,” said Appleby. “Colm has given him a great ride and Kidmenever stayed on strongly and is really better over 2400m.”

The fourth race on the card, the Group 3 UAE Oaks Sponsored by Al Naboodah - Ashok Leyland, over 1900m on dirt, was won in style by Nomorerichblondes, runner-up in the UAE 1000 Guineas on her previous start.

That 1600m contest was won by Nashmiah who was a non-runner on Thursday evening following a respiratory problem but her Saudi Arabian connections at least saw the strength of the form advertised by the Ahmad bin Harmash-trained Nomorerichblondes and jockey, Antonio Fresu.
“We were unlucky last time in the Guineas but I knew this extra 300m would suit her,” said Fresu. “She is still a bit green and learning about the game because she had a good look around when we hit the front.

“However, when the other filly came to us she really responded gamely but I thought she would as I knew she had plenty of left.
“She should improve from this and maybe even deserves a crack at the UAE Derby over the same course and distance.”

The only Purebred Arabian race on the card was the opening Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3 Sponsored by Al Naboodah Peugeot and the Francois Rohaut-trained Handassa became the third dual winner of the 2000m dirt feature.

In doing so, he denied the 2015 victor, Versac PY, that honour for Erwan Charpy but for owner, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, it was a memorable result as he owns them both. It looked an unlikely outcome before halfway with Handassa, slowly into stride as the stalls opened, under pressure from Jim Crowley and clearly resenting the kickback.However, once taken wide by the owner’s retained jockey, he was much happier and made smooth progress down the back straight and they were tracking the leaders on the home turn.

Versac PY hit the front 300m from home but was promptly tackled by the winner who was in front 100m later and, despite a gallant effort by the runner-up, held on gamely.
“He was disappointing last time but is a nice horse and is best suited by a strong gallop to aim at,” said Rohaut. “It is still four weeks until the Kahayla Classic and he will improve from this outing.”

Being contested for the first time, the Curlin Handicap Sponsored by Al Naboodah SUNWIN Buses, was over the same 2000m dirt course and distance as the Dubai World Cup and Mubtaahij, runner-up in Meydan’s biggest race of the season last year, had to settle for the same position in this.
Conceding weight to all eight rivals and making his seasonal return, Mubtaahij and Christophe Soumillon eased into contention as the runners exited the home turn and looked the likely winner.

However, stalking them was Sam Hitchcott on the Doug Watson-trained Etijaah and they shot past with about 300m left and were never going to be caught, providing Sheikh Hamdan with a wining double on the night.

“This is such a great horse and a proper dirt performer,” said Hitchcott. “He is just so genuine and is happy to face the kickback which makes my job so much easier as I was able to follow Mubtaahij, knowing he would give me a tow into the race.

“I was then able to pull inside and pass him when I wanted after which, with our low weight, I was never worried. Basically, every fell into place tonight and it is great for the horse and everyone involved.”

The meeting concluded with the final handicap of the 2017 Dubai World Cup Carnival, the Al Naboodah KAESER Compressor Trophy, over 1400m on turf. It was won in style by the Mike de Kock-trained Suyoof, who came late and fast under Jim Crowley on the outside to overhaul Godolphin’s Bravo Zolo and stablemate, Tahanee. The three were separated by just a short head and a neck in a thriller finish.

The Dubai World Cup Carnival returns for Super Saturday on March 4, the official dress rehearsal for the Saturday March 25 US$30m Dubai World Cup.