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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Dubai World Cup Carnival opener: Good night for Godolphin even better for Barzalona and Bin Ghadayer

Jockey-trainer combination clinch key races, including main Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 aboard Heavy Metal

Mickael Barzalona guided Heavy Metal to victory at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday night. Erika Rasmussen for The National
Mickael Barzalona guided Heavy Metal to victory at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday night. Erika Rasmussen for The National

Godolphin won two of the five races they campaigned on the opening of the Dubai World Cup Carnival, but the honours at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday night clearly belonged to jockey Mickael Barzalona and trainer Salem bin Ghadayer.

The pair combined to claim a double with Heavy Metal taking the main Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1, the fifth race on the evening carrying a purse of US$250,000 (Dh917,500), and Frankyfourfingers winning the third race on the card that was rated a 95-plus handicap.

Both horses wore the silks of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, who was present at the meeting.

And both were convincing winners.

Barzalona made all on Heavy Metal to shock Godolphin’s dual Group 1 winner Thunder Snow by four-and-a-half lengths after he powered Frankyfourfingers to win by nine-and-a-half lengths from Storm Belt with Godolphin’s Alabaster a farther two lengths behind in third.

“They both like to race from the front and they just got stronger as the race progressed,” said Barzalona of the two winners.

“I didn’t have to do much for much for most part of the trips and when I pressed the button they quickened well to go clear from the chasing horses.”

Mickael Barzalona had a memorable night after riding Frankyfourfingers to victory as well. Tom Dulat / Getty Images
Mickael Barzalona had a memorable night after riding Frankyfourfingers to victory as well. Tom Dulat / Getty Images

Godolphin were successful with Benbatl in the Group 3 Singspiel Stakes, the fourth race, and struck again in the sixth race with D’bai under William Buick.

They were denied of a third win when the French raider Golden Wood under Christoph Soumillon prevailed in a photo finish over Gold Star and Best Solution in the concluding handicap.

Oisin Murphy had Benbatl handily placed behind Sharpalo (Antonio Fresu) and Opal Tiara (Silvestre de Sousa) before cruising to the front on the home stretch to win by two-and-a-half lengths from Emotional to lead a 1-2 finish for Godolphin.

Having ridden Benbatl to win the Hampton Court Stakes at Ascot after riding the Dubawi colt in three of his six starts in the UK, Murphy said he knew the horse well.

“When you are riding the best horse in the race everything seems to work so smoothly,” he said.

“He’s got a good kick and is bred to be a champion. His four year old campaign will be a good one because I think he’ll progress from here."

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Ertijaal made it three on the trot of the 1,000-metre dash in the second race of the evening, set on turf and carrying a $160,000 purse.

The winner of the race in 2016 and 2017 replicated those two victories with another all the way success.

Jockey Jim Crowley had the seven-year-old gelding by Oasis Dream quickly out of the stalls and held off the persistent challenge of Oasin Murphy on Hit The Bid.

The two finished well clear of the chasing pack in the 16-runner field.

Paddy’s Day, sluggish in four starts on the turf in Abu Dhabi, proved he is a horse to be reckoned with on the dirt as he ran to the win in the opening event on the seven-race card, the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 for Purebred Arabians.

Jockey Pat Dobbs raced him behind the pace-setting RB Torch under Royston Ffrench before hitting the front on the home stretch and then holding off the late challenge of Crowley on Barnamaj, with Crowley aboard, to win by a neck.

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6.30pm: Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 (PA) Group 1 I US$60,000 I 1,600m I Winner: Paddy’s Day, Patrick Dobbs (jockey), Doug Watson (trainer)

7.05pm: Handicap (rated 95+) I $160,000 I 1,000m I Winner: Ertijaal, Jim Crowley, Ali Rashid Al Raihe

7.40pm: Handicap (95-115) I $135,000 I 1,900m I Winner: Frankyfourfingers, Mickael Barzelona, Salem bin Ghadayer

8.15pm: Singspiel Stakes Group 3 I $175,000 I 1,600m I Winner: Benbatl, Oisin Murphy, Saeed bin Suroor

8.50pm: Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 I Group 2 I $250,000 I 1,600m I Winner: Heavy Metal, Mickael Barzelona, Salem bin Ghadayer

9.25pm: Handicap (95+) I $160,000 I 1,400m I Winner: D’bai, Willian Buick, Charlie Appleby

10pm: Handicap (95+) I $160,000 I 2,410mI Winner: Golden Wood, Christophe Soumillon, Nicolas Caullery