The son of Dubawi from the Dubai Millenium line emphatically wins the US$ 450,000 Al Maktoum Challenge R2 beating a field of five other top-ranked thoroughbreds. Ramzan Kadyrov’s Satish Seemar-trained North America took an early lead under Richard Mullen and romped to the finish with an easy two and a half lengths victory over New Trails and Cosmo Charlie. McPeek trained-Senior Investment landed a good fourth. Etijaah and Second Summer completed the order of finish.
Last year, the now 7-year-old lost a heart-pounding battle with subsequent Gr.1 Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow by a neck in the race before going on to defeat that rival handily in the Gr. 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3. He now has the option of going on to defend said title or wait for the Dubai World Cup, for which he must now be considered the lukewarm favourite. The victory was his seventh from 11 dirt tries and 17 races overall. It follows an even more dominant victory in the Gr.2 Al Maktoum Challenge R1 over 1600m.
“He is a bit like his jockey, improving with age,” Mullen said. “A lot was made out of his (dominant) first run and it is hard for a horse to replicate what he did. Yes, he was visibly impressive and I always had it in the back of my mind that I thought he would win this race, but I didn’t think he would do it in the manner in which he did. It is very hard for a horse to back that up. A lot of it was freshness and a lot of it was obviously adrenaline.
“The thing is, he did it his style and that’s what is important for this horse, the way he just jumped out and went on his way,” Seemar added. “Richie didn’t even touch him and he was doing it on his own. Richie, even though he knew horses were coming, he and the horse knew they could take another stride and (hold them off). It was exactly what we wanted. We have time now and we may or may not go for the (Group 1 $600,000 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3) on Super Saturday.”
The other co-feature of the day US$250,000 UAE 2000 was won by Godolphin’s Estihdaaf who started slow but eventually got in-front under Christophe Soumillon. Thereafter the 3-year-old Arch colt travelled extremely well before shaking off heavy favourite Walking Thunder and handing trainer Saeed bin Suroor a seventh victory in the race. Two years ago, Soumillon and Bin Suroor landed the spoils with Thunder Snow.
Walking Thunder (Connor Beasley aboard) stayed on for the place 5½ lengths astern the victor, while followed by late-running Danish invader Red Cactus (Carlos Lopez) in third.