x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Forecast very good for Soft Falling Rain

Group 1 winner from South Africa may prove unstoppable in Dubai World Cup Carnival after winning the UAE 2000 Guineas at Meydan Racecourse.

Soft Falling Rain, centre, was guided to a win by Paul Hanagan in Dubai. Mike Young / The National
Soft Falling Rain, centre, was guided to a win by Paul Hanagan in Dubai. Mike Young / The National

DUBAI // Soft Falling Rain will be very hard to beat in the 1,600m UAE 2000 Guineas judged on his victory in the 1,400m trial, the official feature at Meydan Racecourse's second meeting of the 2013 Dubai World Cup Carnival.

Trained by Mike De Kock, who has saddled four UAE 2000 Guineas winners already (all of whom went on to win the UAE Derby), Soft Calling Rain is a Group 1 winner in their native South Africa and was far too good for his 15 rivals. He made all the running under a confident Paul Hanagan, riding for his main employer Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, before quickening clear early in the straight to the delight of an appreciative crowd.

De Kock was delighted: "He had a Group 1 penalty over a trip he had never tried on a new surface so there was plenty of concerns going into the race but we know he is quality and he showed it this evening.

"The Guineas is the obvious plan but then we will have to think seriously about where to go as the Derby trip will probably be too far. The Godolphin Mile would be a consideration perhaps."

Hanagan was completing a double for himself and the owner having earlier established a new 1,200m turf track on Tamaathul, trained by the local champion Ali Rashid Al Raihe.

Hanagan said: "That fast early gallop really helped him as this was the shortest trip over which he has raced. He really stayed on strongly and won well."

The Godolphin handler Mahmoud Al Zarooni saddled a treble, headed by Music Chart who won the UAE 1000 Guineas Trial, also over 1,400m on Tapeta with Mickael Barzalona in the saddle as he was on the trainer's other two winners.

She will now go straight to the UAE 1000 Guineas with Al Zarooni saying: "She is a nice filly but was only fourth to our Lovely Pass on her previous start and they will clash again in the Guineas.

"They are both improving and it is nice to have two quality fillies for these races."

Music Chart led close to home just as stable companion Lajooj had done in the previous 2,000m turf handicap when he denied stable companion Naqshabban who was ridden by Kieren Fallon.

The concluding 2,410m turf handicap produced a thrilling finish with Barzalona's mount Anatolian just holding the late challenge of Ahzeemah with star Indian mare In The Spotlight fading into fourth having led 300m out.

Al Zarooni said: "That completes a great evening. I knew we had good chances but to get three is more than we could have hoped for."

The other winner on the card was Capital Attraction who led almost all the way in a 1,600m Tapeta handicap with the champion jockey Tadhg O'Shea in the saddle for trainer Ernst Oertel. O'Shea said: "He is tough – he won last Friday at Jebel Ali and, depending on how he comes out of this, he could go for next Friday's Jebel Ali Mile."

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