Three of night's six races decided by less than a length
Close finishes highlight exciting evening at Meydan
DUBAI // The Satish Seemar-trained Surfer impressed while winning the 1,600-metre conditions race on Thursday night during the most entertaining racing card at Meydan Racecourse so far this season.
The British jockey Richard Mullen was happy to stalk the early pace before going for home about 600 metres out. The pair shot clear before Mufarrh emerged from the pack as a big danger.
However, Surfer responded to Mullen’s urgings and was running away from Mufarrh, both horses having their first start since the Godolphin Mile.
Mullen said: “He was always a horse we really liked, but it took him a while to get his head in front.”
Surfer won this race a year ago, a week after his maiden victory, on his 10th attempt, and placed in the middle round of the Al Maktoum Challenge.
“Apart from the Godolphin Mile, when the Tapeta rode very low, he has not disappointed,” Mullen said. “A round of the Maktoum Challenge will be his next race, be it in three weeks or later on.”
Seemar completed a notable double on the night with the last-gasp victory of Ralston Road in a conditions race over 2,000m, Tadhg O’Shea forcing his head in front right on the line to deny Izaaj. Last seen in September, contesting the world’s oldest classic, the Group 1 St Leger, Ralston Road triumphed to record a third career victory.
Izaaj set only a steady gallop, with O’Shea’s mount always travelling well just behind the pace, and Ralston Road stuck his neck out when asked, to the delight of O’Shea.
The jockey said: “He shows little in the mornings but is a different proposition on the track. Winning here opens up more options, and hopefully there is a nice Carnival race in him – with the Gold Cup on World Cup night the big target.”
The official feature was the only Purebred Arabian contest of the evening, the 1,600m Group 2 Mazrat Al Ruwayah, won by Rabbah De Carrere, owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, trained by Majed Al Jahouri and a first UAE winner for British champion jockey Richard Hughes.
Never far off the pace, Hughes eased his mount to the front 300m out and the pair hung on grimly to deny the late challenge of Shayel Aldhabi.
Hughes said: “It is only the second Purebred Arabian race I have ridden in and he felt like a nice horse. I hit the front too soon on him, but he dug deep when the second came to him. He should win again.”
Rafeej recorded his second triumph of the season, following up on his 1,200m track-record winning performance at Sharjah on his penultimate start with a gutsy victory in a 1,200m conditions contest. Owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, he was chased home by the same owner’s Tamaathul, with Mujaazef completing a 1-2-3 for the owner.
Winning jockey Dane O’Neill said: “That was a hot handicap he was beaten in last time after a remarkable effort at Sharjah. It would be nice to think he is improving, and what a result for Sheikh Hamdan.”
The final race, a 1,200m handicap, produced the second desperately close finish of the evening, with Parvaaz just holding on ahead of Surge Ahead.
The apprentice Thomas Brown partnered the winner for his 70th career victory, riding for Dhruba Selvaratnam. Brown now loses his apprentice allowance locally, though not in Europe.
The meeting opened with a 2,000m maiden race, and Adrie De Vries was at his tactical best, making all the running on Tarbawi for the rookie trainer Ahmad bin Harmash.
De Vries said: “We tried different tactics today and it has worked well. He had good form on turf last season, but we knew he handles Tapeta and hoped the 2,000m would suit. It has!”