x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Soft Falling Rain storms ahead to take UAE 2000 Guineas at Meydan

Soft Falling Rain rewards the faith placed in him by trainer Mike de Kock and jockey Paul Hanagan by winning the UAE 2000 Guineas at Meydan Racecourse. The UAE Derby may be the charger's next destination but Royal Ascot in England could also be in play, writes John Byrne.

Paul Hanagan takes Soft Falling Rain to the winner's circle for trainer Mike de Kock in the UAE 2000 Guineas race at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai.
Paul Hanagan takes Soft Falling Rain to the winner's circle for trainer Mike de Kock in the UAE 2000 Guineas race at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai.

Dubai // Soft Falling Rain supplied trainer Mike de Kock with a fifth win in the 1,600m UAE 2000 Guineas, leading 400m out under Paul Hanagan for his main employer, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, who was present to witness the victory, as was his brother, Sheikh Mohammed.

Champion juvenile in South Africa last year, the winner has won all six career starts, but future plans remain fluid according to De Kock.

"Stamina was a concern, but he has stayed well off a decent early pace and recorded a decent time," De Kock said.

"I will have to talk to the owner as to whether we step up again, but this could be his optimum."

The owner added: "We will consider the UAE Derby but we may stick to this trip. He is a horse we are keen to take to England, with Royal Ascot perhaps in mind."

Just as they did with Lovely Pass in the UAE 1000 Guineas last week, Ahmed Ajtebi and Mahmood Al Zarooni combined to win a 1,600m Tapeta feature, this time with Moonwalk In Paris in the Group 3 Firebreak Stakes.

The pair had to weave through rivals inside the final 300m before darting up a gap on the rail inside the final 200m.

"That is his first start for us and he has shown plenty of courage to go through the gaps when I have asked him," Ajtebi said.

"He will improve with that run under his belt and it has been a good couple of weeks."

The trainer then completed a quick big-race double with Mental defying a Group 1 penalty to land the spoils in the Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint, a 1,200m dash.

Making his local debut and first for the yard, he was settled well off a frantic early gallop before powering down the outside to win cosily.

"He had been working nicely and proved in Australia he is a very good sprinter," jockey Mickael Barzalona said, "but he just needed to prove himself on this surface.

"He has handled it well and, sure to improve for that run, he has done very well under that penalty."

Anatolian then complete a treble for the trainer and double for the jockey with a smooth success in the concluding 2,435m turf handicap.

Earlier fellow Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor saddled a 1-2-3 in the opening 2,200m Tapeta handicap, with jockey Silvestre De Sousa aboard winner Kassiano, who was chased home by Royal Empire, with Modun third.

UK trainer David Simcock registered his second 2013 Carnival winner with the easy success of Trade Storm in a 1,800m turf handicap.

Slowly away under Jamie Spencer, the horse trailed the whole field until producing a devastating turn of foot to lead inside the final furlong and win on the bridle.

"We were bumped at the start, which was why we were that far back," Spencer said, "but he travelled really strongly and it was just a case of finding a clear path in the straight, so I switched wide and he picked up very well."



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