x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Hunter's Light shines again for jockey Silvestre De Souza in Dubai

Godolphin horse hands trainer Saeed bin Suroor ninth victory in the Group 2 middle round of the Al Maktoum Challenge.

Hunter's Light, ridden by Silvestre De Souza and trained by Saeed bin Suroor, warmed up for next month's Carnival by winning at the Meydan Racecourse. Pawan Singh / The National
Hunter's Light, ridden by Silvestre De Souza and trained by Saeed bin Suroor, warmed up for next month's Carnival by winning at the Meydan Racecourse. Pawan Singh / The National

DUBAI // Hunter's Light gave the Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor with his ninth victory in the Group 2 middle round of the Al Maktoum Challenge and provided the jockey Silvestre De Sousa with his first win in the 1,900m Tapeta contest, first run in 1994.

De Sousa was content to take his time on the winner before setting sail after local hope Surfer, who excelled facing by far his stiffest task to date having only lost his maiden tag in November.

De Sousa's mount hit the front inside the final 200 metres to deny Surfer, to the delight of his jockey who said: "This horse is a real favourite of mine and gave me my first European Group 1 winner in Italy last time.

"He can be a real character and takes a bit of knowing but he had been working well on the surface and I thought he would be hard to beat.

"I have now won three from three on him."

Bin Suroor said: "That gives us plenty of options with him as he seems equally at home on Tapeta and turf and stays further so we will have to think where to go next."

Fellow Godolphin handler Mahmoud Al Zarooni may have been absent but provided the winner of the season's first Classic, the UAE 1000 Guineas with Ahmed Ajtebi and Lovely Pass leading a furlong out in the Listed 1,600m Tapeta contest to follow in the hoof prints of stable companion Gamilati.

Ajtebi said: "I won on this filly at Ascot and was very hopeful beforehand. I wanted to sit close to the pace as I knew she would run all the way to the line and that is just what she has done. The UAE Oaks would be a possibility."

The winner was chased home by the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Shurooq, reversing trial form with the third Music Chart, a stable companion of the winner and providing Godolphin a 1-2-3.

Bin Suroor also supplied the fourth, Mar Mar, in the green colours of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed.

The 2,200m Group 1 Purebred Arabian equivalent of the Maktoum Challenge was won by Albar Lotois, the runner-up last year and ridden by Ted Durcan for the trainer Eric Lemartinel. It was a first Tapeta win for the eight year old and Durcan said: "They went a reasonable gallop and I was always going well. Once the gap opened I was always hopeful we would get there."

The UK registered a second 2013 Carnival winner after Harry Bentley exuded confidence throughout on the David Simcock-trained Ottoman Empire in the 2,000m Tapeta handicap. The pair cruised to the front over a furlong out having stalked Modern History who tried to make all the running under Mickael Barzalona.

Bentley's mount skipped clear to win well. Simcock said: "We were keen to ride him prominently this time and Harry has given him a great ride."

Ireland then repeated the trick with a David Marnane on hand to greet Fergal Lynch who took the lead close home in the Meydan Classic Trial on Elleval. Just over a week after his father died, it was a great tonic for the trainer.

Having been forced to weave through rivals in the 1,400m turf contest, Lynch said: "I almost got there too soon! I was always going well enough it was just a case of finding the gaps. Luckily they appeared."

The 2,810m turf handicap provided a thrilling finish with Star Empire leading close to home under Christophe Soumillon for Mike De Kock to deny Godolphin's Ahzeemah and the Irish duo Certerach and Bob Le Beau with the four separated by less than a length.

The winner missed all of last season and his trainer said: "He had a nasty pelvic injury and was off for virtually two years before his run three weeks ago. It is a good result for the whole team."

The trainer completed a double when Royal Ridge landed the concluding 1,600m Tapeta handicap under Paul Hanagan.

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