March 28 Barn Notes from Dubai Racing Club
There was heavy rain at Meydan part of Thursday morning.
Divine Image: Trainer Charlie Appleby said he winner of three of her four career starts has come forward again since her wide-margin success in the Al Bastakiya. She gallop on the grass Wednesday and this morning had a gentle jog around his Marmoom stable's dirt track.
“She is a work-in-progress filly,” Appleby said. “She has not been the sharpest from the gates, but she is just inexperienced and has been maturing away. On her last start against the colts, she had a low draw and got out and got racing and got into a nice rhythm. I do think she has improved again since that night.
“The key about her is how she finishes her races and sees it out well. That’s one of key attributes, and I think she is going to be a strong player on Saturday evening.
Gray Magician: For the second consecutive day Gray Magician underwent light training in the stable area rather than come out on the track.
“At this point they’re all fit. At this point all I can do is screw them up by overdoing it,” said Peter Miller, who trains the son of Graydar trying for his first stakes score.
Jahbath: William Haggas was on hand to see His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s colt for the first time this week, along with the owner’s representatives Angus Gold and Richard Hills, and they gave him a stronger blow-out than the light cantering that he has been undertaking for the last few days. Jim Crowley was in the saddle.
“He just stretched out over the last 400 meters, and Jim felt that he was going nicely,” Haggas said. “I’m quite happy with how he has been, he looked great and Jim is pleased, so it’s all fine.”
Plus Que Parfait: During the decade he spent in Dubai working as an assistant and exercise rider on the Godolphin team, Brendan Walsh held fast to the idea in the future he'd be a trainer in his own right and return to compete on the Dubai World Cup card. Dreams do come true.
“I was working here from 1997 to 2006, and the last time I was here on vacation was about 12 years ago.” he said. “I always dreamed about this and it’s surreal to really be here. I was thinking about it when flying over and how for long I’ve dreamed about this. It’s fantastic. I wanted to wait to run here until I had a horse that would acquit himself well. People keep asking me if I think I’ve got a chance, and I wouldn’t have brought him here if I didn’t. I think he’s got a shot.”
Jose Ortiz, North America’s champion rider in 2017, was on track Thursday morning for the first time in his career and picks up the mount.
“He felt really good today. I think he fits really good in this spot and has a good chance,” said Ortiz after he got Imperial Racing LLC’s colour-bearer for the first time and they galloped once around the track and went to stand in the gate.
Stubbins: The Doug O’Neill trained UAE Derby contender was loving the rain when he came out on Thursday morning where he jogged on the dirt track at Meydan.
“We are very happy with what we saw today,” said Leandro Mora, Doug O’Neill’s assistant. “So we are looking forward to tomorrow and then the race. Actually, we are kind of happy if it rains more because he won by nearly ten lengths when it was raining in California, so we are smiling.”
Walking Thunder, Superior, Golden Jaguar: Thunder, lightning and heavy rain caused Ahmad bin Harmash to delay Thursday morning’s exercise for Walking Thunder, Superior and Golden Jaguar, his trio of runners, by half an hour.
“Other than that, there were no problems and they all did their regular canters,” reported Bin Harmash. “I am very happy with them.”
All three were bought at last year’s Ocala Spring sale of 2-year-olds in Florida by Allessandro Marconi, bin Harmash’s assistant.
Walking Thunder, the least expensive at $42,000, is the most experienced and most successful so far, having won his first three races before finishing a non-threatening second to Estihdaaf in the UAE 2000 Guineas. He will be ridden for the first time by Frankie Dettori.
Stable jockey Connor Beasley opted for Superior, a $50,000 purchase who has won one of his three races and is untested beyond listed company.
Beasley said, “It was a difficult choice among the three because they have given me some good days, and there is not a lot between them. Superior is learning his trade all the while and definitely stays the Derby distance of 1900 meters. I felt that of the three, he would be the one who would take me through the race and get the trip.”
Superior was second, beaten a little over seven lengths in the Al Bastakiya behind the filly Divine Image, who is back in the UAE Derby. Beasley said he is hopeful of bridging the gap on Saturday.
“I was happy with that last run because, as I say, he’s still learning and maybe we went to the front a little too soon,” he said.
Golden Jaguar, bought for $60,000 after changing hands for $90,000 as a yearling, is the mount of Oisin Murphy, who scored for the first time in his 10 attempt at the Dubai World Cup meeting when Godolphin’s Benbatl landed the Dubai Turf a year ago.
Syndicate organiser Pamela Cordina said: “Connor had first choice from our three runners, but we’re very pleased that Oisin is available.”
Golden Jaguar graduated from winning a small 1000 meter race at Jebel Ali on his January debut to take the Meydan Classic Trial by two lengths, before going down by a neck to Sporting Chance in a driving, four-way finish to the Classic itself.
Bin Harmash said: “Since that race I’ve been very happy with Golden Jaguar, and we have made an entry for him in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. We will make a decision after Saturday.”
Notes edited by Dick Downey
Photo of Plus Que Parfait by Dubai Racing Club|Neville Hopwood