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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 June 2018

Rayya finally beats Godolphin's Winter Lightning to clinch UAE Oaks at Dubai World Cup Carnival

But it a good night for the Dubai racing operation after saddling four wins, including three for trainer Charlie Appleby

Pat Dobbs guides Rayya, trained by Doug Watson, to victory in the UAE Oaks at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday. Dubai Racing Club
Pat Dobbs guides Rayya, trained by Doug Watson, to victory in the UAE Oaks at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday. Dubai Racing Club

The third time proved to be a charm for Rayya as she won the Group 3 UAE Oaks in the Dubai World Cup Carnival’s penultimate meeting at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday night.

Twice before, Rayya had been beaten by Godolphin's Winter Lightning. Not this time.

In the process, the Tiz Wonderful filly handed trainer Doug Watson his second Oaks prize - worth US$250,000 (Dh918,125) - following Polar River’s success in 2016.

From the moment Rayya leaped out of Gate No 1, jockey Pat Dobbs ran him along the inside rails from race favourite Winter Lightning, who was ridden by Patrick Cosgrave.

Rayya had plenty left in the tank by the time the field swept on to the home stretch of the 1,900-metre race, and Dobbs took the shortest way home to win by three and three-quarter lengths from Expressiy - the other Godolphin horse in the race - ridden by William Buick. Winter Lightning was a further four and-a-quarter lengths in third.

“I didn’t know if she could turn tables on Winter Lightning,” Watson said. “But actually going back to her last race, she got worked up at the gates and worked up in the paddocks.

“Tonight she walked around with her head down, nice and relaxed, and I thought ‘okay’ that gives us a little bit of a shot.

"I know she has a pretty nice cruising speed. She was able to get up there. She thought she was comfortable and the other ones were looking like they have the answers to stay up with her. That’s when she turned in and kicked away. She stayed nicely and very pleased with her.”

Watson's next target for Rayya? The $2 million UAE Derby at the Dubai World Cup on March 31.

“I’m sure we’ll get an invite, and the owner would want to have a go with this season coming to end," Watson said. "We might as well - we are here. It will be a hard race with some Japanese horses coming over. We’ll still give it a try.”

Saeed bin Suroor was disappointed with Winter Lightning’s effort after she impressed with her two victories in a Conditions race and the Listed UAE 1000 Guineas.

“When I say I was disappointed, I mean she didn’t look unhappy in the paddocks and she was very keen in the race, and raced wide,” the Godolphin trainer said. “But she has come out well from the race. We’ll look at her future after a few days, perhaps, the UAE Derby may be an option.”

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It was still a good night for Godolphin, who were successful in four races, including three for trainer Charlie Appleby.

Rare Rhythm, who clinched the Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy under William Buick, was one of them. Appleby and Buick also combined to land the Listed Meydan Stakes with Zaman, while Bin Suroor was successful with Top Score under Christophe Soumillon in the turf handicap for horses rated 100-113.

James Doyle rode Kidmenever to victory in the concluding handicap for Appleby to complete his hat-trick.

Ziyadd emerged the new favourite for the Dubai Kahayla Classic, the Arabian showpiece on the Dubai World Cup meeting, after victory in the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3.

Trained in Al Ain by Jean de Roualle, the six-year-old son of Bibi De Carrere got the better of Barnamaj and Paddy’s Day, both winners of the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 and Round 2, respectively.

Meanwhile, Richard Mullen made every yard of the running on Satish Seemar’s Saltarin Dubai to complete a double on the night for two different trainers.