DUBAI // Hunter's Light, who provided Godolphin with their 199th Group/Grade 1 win in Italy in November, bought up the 200 milestone with an impressive victory in the concluding round of the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 at Meydan Racecourse last night.
Trained by Saeed bin Suroor, who has used this race as a stepping stone for subsequent Dubai World Cup winners Dubai Millennium, Street Cry and Electrocutionist, watched his cross the line ahead of stablemate Kassiano over the 2,000-metre Tapeta course and distance at the Dubai World Cup Carnival's Super Saturday meet.
Winning jockey Silvestre de Sousa, who previously enjoyed success on the five year old in Round 2 of the Al Maktoum Challenge at Meydan last month, said: "Hunter's Light was my first Godolphin Group 1 winner in Europe and is now my first here in the UAE, so he is a real favourite. I was impressed by the way he travelled and then quickened. He must have a big chance in the World Cup itself."
Bin Suroor wasted little time making it 201 victories for the Dubai operation with the last-gasp victory of Sajjhaa in the concluding Group 1 Jebel Hatta, over the same turf course and distance as the 1,800m Balanchine in which she set the track record on her previous outing.
Registering her first Group 1 victory and her third in three races, she was given a patient ride by William Buick and Bin Suroor said she was now a serious consideration for the Dubai Duty Free on World Cup night.
"I was in a good position early on but we found a few in front of us in the straight so I had to take my time," said Buick. "When the gap appeared she picked up well."
Bin Suroor was a familiar face in the winner's enclosure with four winners on the night. African Story, ridden by Mickael Barzalona, was a comfortable winner of the Group 3 Burj Nahaar over the same 1,600m Tapeta course, while Kieren Fallon piloted Secret Number to claim the Listed Al Bastakiya over the same extended 1,900m trip as the UAE Derby.
"This and the Godolphin Mile was always the plan," said Bin Suroor of African Story. Of Secret Number's triumph, he added: "He did well to win on debut at Kempton after a slow start and he will go to the UAE Derby now as he loves this type of surface."
Jakkalberry won the Group 3 Dubai City Of Gold with Ryan Moore in the saddle for Marco Botti in a 2,410m turf contest.
Third in last year's Melbourne Cup, having filled the same berth in the Sheema Classic, Botti is keeping his options open with regards to his intended target for Jakkalberry in three weeks time. Botti said: "He was due to run last week but was a bit quiet so we waited for this. He will have needed that so it was a bit of a surprise. We could step him up in trip for the Gold Cup or run in the Sheema Classic again."
Shea Shea, a Grade 1 winner in his native South Africa, posted a new track record of 57.02 seconds for victory in the Listed 1,000m Meydan Sprint on turf.
Trained by Mike de Kock and having his second UAE start, Christophe Soumillon always looked like winning.
"He is very, very fast and hopefully will be hard to beat in the Al Quoz Sprint," said the jockey.
The second sprint, the 1,200m Group 3 Mahab Al Shimaal, was won equally impressively by the Satish Seemar-trained Reynaldothewizard, who stormed clear to win the Tapeta contest under Richard Mullen.
He was chased home by Krypton Factor, winner of this race last year before landing the Group 1 Golden Shaheen over the same course and distance on World Cup night. Mullen said: "They went a good gallop which has helped us as he stays further. We will have to look at the big night now."
Racing opened with the Group 1 Purebred Arabian version of the Al Maktoum Challenge, also over 2,000m, and the Eric Lemartinel-trained Nieshan landed the spoils for a record third time.
Winning jockey Gerald Avranche said: "That is a great training feat and we will be back for the Kahayla Classic in three weeks."
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