Godolphin`s Maftool Wins Battle for Group 3 UAE 2000 Guineas

Photo: Dubai Racing Club // Andrew Watkins

Reynaldothewizard Lands Al Shindagha Sprint, Tamarkuz Scoops Firebreak Stakes

Three Group 3 races highlighted a cracking card at Meydan’s Al Tayer Motors sponsored Dubai World Cup Carnival on Thursday and Godolphin’s Saeed Bin Suroor stable were the team to follow, taking the UAE 2000 Guineas with Maftool and landing two other races on the night.

The Group 3 UAE 2000 Guineas has produced some serious performers over the years, perhaps headed by 2001 winner Street Cry, who went on to win the 2002 Dubai World Cup.

He was trained by Bin Suroor, as was Bachir, winner of the inaugural UAE 2000 Guineas in the year 2000 before going to Europe and winning the Guineas in both France and Ireland.

South African Mike De Kock had won the race five times, including with subsequent UAE Derby winners Musir (2010), Honour Devil (2008) and the UAE’s only Triple Crown winner, Asiatic Boy (2007).

He also saddled Soft Falling Rain to win this in 2013 before becoming the first (only) three-year-old to win the Godolphin Mile.

It was Godolphin’s night with Maftool, ridden by Paul Hanagan, denying the South African’s Mubtaahij in a great battle up the straight.

Having blown the start on his previous outing behind Mubtaahij, Bin Suroor reached for the visor on this occasion and he broke sharply.

“The start was always a worry,’ said Hanagan. “The visor has certainly helped him today and won well. It is just that stall issue you have to think about but hopefully he still improving and learning.

“I am not sure we have seen the best of him yet.”

Earlier, Bin Suroor’s stable jockey, James Doyle, always looked confident on Tha’Ir in a 2000m turf handicap and they ran out a comfortable winner. Well beaten on his previous outing, over 200m further on the dirt, he was always travelling well just off the early pace and, once sent to the front by Doyle early in the straight, he never looked in serious danger.

“I was always happy,” said Doyle. “He has certainly appreciated this return to turf and did that well. His form as a juvenile was good and he is a nice horse.”

Bin Suroor then went on to complete a treble, saddling Songcraft to win the same 2400m handicap he won last year. If that was not good enough, the William Buick-partnered winner was chased home by stable companions, Al Saham and the aptly-named, Excellent Result.

“We thought we had good chances with all three,” said the trainer. “That is just a great result for everyone involved in the yard.”

The 1200m Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint, also on the dirt, produced a great scrap between old rivals Krypton Factor and Reynaldothewizard with the former looking the likely winner when hitting the front 300m out.

However, he had no answer to the final challenge of Reynaldothewizard, ridden by Richard Mullen for his main employer, Satish Seemar.

Both are previous winners of the Group 1 Golden Shaheen on Dubai World Cup night, Krypton Factor in 2012 and Reynaldothewizard 12 months later.

“He is obviously a real favourite in the yard and a horse we all like,’ said Mullen. “They went plenty quick enough up front and I was pretty happy out of my ground in the first half.

“Then he has picked up really nicely and done it well in the end.”

There was a third Group 3 feature on the dirt, the 1600m Firebreak Stakes, and jockey Hanagan went on to complete a big race double. Riding for his main employer, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum and trainer Musabah Al Muhairi, he was always positive on Tamarkuz.

As hopeful as connections may have been, they could surely not have expected the breathtaking performance the horse produced, totally destroying nine rivals.

“He is not the most straightforward,” said Hanagan. “However, he is smart, very smart. The ability is certainly there and hopefully we can focus that in the right direction.

“He was impressive last time but this was a big step up. Hopefully he has more to offer.’

The meeting opened with a 1900m dirt handicap, which does not count towards the Dubai World Cup Carnival and Doug Watson saddled the first and second.

Stable jockey, Pat Dobbs, looked to have the race in the bag on Layl, only to be headed by fellow Red Stables’ inmate, Jeeraan and Sam Hitchcott.

“Jeeraan ran well for us on his last start behind Layl,”said Hitchcott. “That was his first run of the season and we expected improvement. He did not let us down and was very brave when I needed an extra effort from him.”

The finale, an 1800m handicap on the turf, provided the perfect opportunity for Watson to complete a double, this time with Dobbs aboard impressive winner, Limario.