Meydan Hosts Final Thursday Meeting; Countdown To Dubai World Cup Begins

Photo: Street Of Dreams
Cedric Lane (

Racing at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday features a seven race card and highlighted by a competitive 1600m handicap for which 15 have been declared, including five by Doug Watson.

The reigning champion trainer is making a bold fist of defending his title and is currently seven clear (43-36) over Eric Lemartinel, who has no Meydan runners this week. Of the Watson quintet, stable jockey Pat Dobbs elects to ride Street of Dreams, who has the plumb drawn in one. Twice a winner on the Meydan dirt this season over 2000m and on his latest start five weeks ago over 1900m, he was a staying on third the one previous time he ran over 1600m.

Also based with the Red Stables’ trainer is Sam Hitchcott, who partners Galvanize, a dual course and distance winner late last year. Of the other Watson trio, Jim Crowley, retained by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, rides Nathr for his main employer with apprentices Josh Quinn and Adam McLean aboard Pillar of Society and Sheeba, respectively.

“All five are in good form and probably having their last races of the season,” Watson said. “If better drawn, I think Galvanize would have been our best chance, but he is in stall 14, whereas Street of Dreams has a good draw in one. He is dropping back in trip, but handles the kickback so that should not be a problem.”

Pillar Of Society is making his dirt debut and Justin Byrne, of owners EERC (Emirates Entertainment Racing Club), explained: “There are no more suitable turf races for him this year so this is a good opportunity to try him on the dirt. He works well on it at home so we are hopeful he will take to it, but our wide draw is not ideal.”

South African Mike de Kock saddles Baroot, twice a Meydan dirt winner, over 1900m and 1400m, in 2016 but mainly raced on turf since, winning twice, including his penultimate start over 1800m.

Satish Seemar, fresh from his Super Saturday brace shared with stable jockey Richard Mullen, is doubly represented with Mazeed and Bochart. Mullen rides the former, a course and distance maiden winner in November with Brett Doyle coming in for the spare ride on Bochart.

Assistant trainer Bhupat Seemar said: “Both seem in good form and Mazeed has been running consistently well all season. Bochart won three times last season, but has only run twice this season when he has just taken a long time to come to hand. Hopefully both will run big races in a very open race.”

The second best contest is a 1200m handicap in which the weights are headed by Pirate’s Cove, trained by Salem bin Ghadayer for Salem Rashid and the mount of Xavier Ziani. A course and distance winner in January, he has struggled since, but for a horse who likes to race prominently could be well drawn in five.

One who definitely is well berthed is Almanaara, trained by Watson for Sheikh Hamdan and the mount of Crowley. They are in stall one and look likely to challenge Pirate’s Cove for the early lead. He was drawn wide on both starts since his victory, including a fourth to Pirate’s Cove on his most recent outing almost eight weeks ago.

“He is a horse we have high hopes for, but not much has gone right since he won,” Watson said. “He should run well, but however he fares, he is going to be an exciting horse next season.”

A course and distance winner two weeks ago, Call to War will again be ridden by Brett Doyle for HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Gopi Selvaratnam. He was chased home on that occasion by Salvadori, again in opposition for Rashed Bouresly, but well beaten at Jebel Ali last Friday.

All seven races are on the dirt surface and racing returns to Meydan Racecourse for the final time a fortnight on Saturday for the $30million Dubai World Cup card.