DUBAI // The South African trainer Mike De Kock won the Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort, the 1,400-metre turf feature at the Meydan Racecourselast night, in the third meeting of the 2014 Dubai World Cup Carnival, with Anaerobio, ridden by Christophe Soumillon.
The trainer won the race for a third straight year and sixth time overall. This year was the first time it was contested over 1,400m, having always been a 1,600m contest.
The veteran jockey Frankie Dettori, returning to Dubai for the first time since 2012, managed a second place behind Anaerobio.
Soumillon was never far off the steady pace on the free-going Anaerobio, winning for a third time over course and distance.
“This is a nice horse who seems to be improving with this drop back to 1,400m,” the jockey said. “He won well a fortnight ago, but this is obviously a better effort in this company.”
The trainer and jockey were completing a double, having already won a 1,600m Tapeta handicap with Alexandra Palace, who led close home under Soumillon for an absent De Kock. “That was a very good performance from an awful draw after a long break,” Soumillon said.
“He had been working well on the surface, so that was not a concern and I was happy to take my time with him. When I asked him to, he really quickened nicely.”
The trainer was in South Africa, buying yearlings.
Irish eyes were certainly smiling after the opening 1,200m Tapeta handicap, won by the David Marnane-trained Jamesie, supplying the Irishman a winner at his fourth consecutive Carnival.
Fergal Lynch settled his mount in midfield on the rail and they made smooth progress to chase Merhee, who had led all the way, only to be caught close home.
“This horse has so much natural speed that he was still pulling despite the fast gallop,” Lynch said. “I always though I was going to get there from halfway up the straight.
“He is good on this surface, but also very useful on turf, so hopefully, we will have plenty of options.”
The following 2,435m turf handicap always went the way of Ireland, with Shane Foley performing the steering of Certerach for trainer Mick Halford. Unlucky on more than one occasion at the Carnival last year, Foley was able to weave through to lead about 200m out and the pair finished well to win.
“The horse really deserved that as we had no luck with him here last year but luckily the gaps opened when I wanted this evening,” Foley said. “He quicken well for a stayer and should be competitive next time.”
The UK had to wait for the last race to get on the scoreboard, with Gabrial winning the concluding 1,800m turf handicap under Jamie Spencer and providing trainer Richard Fahey with his first UAE winner.
“He is a very good horse, just not the easiest and needs to be ridden like that – a late challenge,” Spenccer said. “Luckily, we led where it mattered.”
The best of the handicaps was over 2,000m on Tapeta and Godolphin’s Windhoek made his first start for Saeed bin Suroor a winning one, leading right on the line under Silvestre De Sousa.
They caught Layali Al Andalus, who himself snared Mutajare in the dying strides. “They went for home a long way out so we had something to run at and he really galloped all the way to the line,” De Sousa said. “I knew it was going to be close 100m out and we just made it – literally on the line.”
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