x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Two wins for Mike de Kock at Meydan Racecourse

Reem follows stablemate River Jetez home in the Group Two Balanchine.

Mike de Kock recorded a one-two in Meydan Racecourse's big race last night, with Reem following stablemate River Jetez home in the Group Two Balanchine.

De Kock has long regarded River Jetez as a World Cup night runner and her success in the classy 1,800m fillies and mares' race on the turf track will have confirmed his belief.

De Kock, who now has 12 winners in the Carnival, warned that River Jetez, who is eight years old, still had more to prove and was set to be feature on Dubai World Cup day.

"It was a good, special win," said de Kock who has now won the Balanchine four times. "She's a filly that was unlucky last time in the Cape Verdi and she deserved that result.

"I'm sure that she can still improve a little - there's no doubt. She's a very tough filly, although she's eight she doesn't behave like she's eight and she doesn't know she's eight."

Calvin Borel, the top US rider, last night claimed the Meydan Masters jockeys' championship, even though he finished dead last in the concluding third leg of the competition.

Borel, who said his saddle slipped straight after his mount, Atlantis Star, jumped from the gates, was content to simply stay on the horse for the duration of the race.

His single point for coming 12th was enough to seal overall victory with 86 points after winning the opening round of the Meydan Masters and coming fourth in the second leg on Thursday.

"It's a special thrill to win the championship," said the three-time Kentucky Derby-winning rider, who received a watch for his efforts. "

Borel and his wife, Lisa, may have wept a few tears of joy, but they can scarcely have been happier than multiple UAE champion trainer, Doug Watson, who broke his 2011 Carnival duck with a treble.

First up came Famous Warrior, the post-to-post winner of a 1600m handicap on the Tapeta.

The highly-strung horse overcame his pre-race nerves under Tadhg O'Shea to hold off a challenge from Saeed bin Suroor's Sangaree.

"It's late in the season but it's nice to get a winner," said Watson after that race. "He 's a nice horse but he had been getting a little bit hot up here but we have been schooling him in the gates and the paddock to calm him down."

War Monger, guided by four-time French champion rider and Meydan Masters' runner-up, Olivier Peslier, then stormed home for Watson in the Meydan Masters Leg Three. Thirty minutes later Barbecue Eddie completed the Watson hat-trick with his effort in a 1,400m Tapeta handicap

"It's great to get three," said Watson. "We had been getting a lot of seconds and thirds and to be honest we were thinking at home that if we didn't get a win tonight then there was something wrong because the horses have been in great form, we just needed to persevere."

Purebred Arabian, Dariya, is to be aimed at the Dubai Kahayla Classic after winning yesterday's Group Two Bani Yas over 1,400m.

The seven-year-old has been nursed back from an injury sustained while racing in Europe and wining jockey, Ted Durcan, paid tribute to the efforts of Deeb and his team.

"He's a smart horse with some nice European form," said Durcan, who has now won the opening race at Meydan Racecourse for three consecutive meetings "He won last month at Abu Dhabi after coming back from injury, so hats off to everyone who got him back into such great form.

Deeb is now considering whether to set the Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan-owned horse a 2,000m target, the distance of the Kahayla Classic.

"He is very strong in a finish and he runs on well," said Deeb. "He is seven years old now but he is a versatile horse so Inshallah, the Kahayla Classic could be his target. He has shown improvement this season so we are hopeful."

Dariya, driven on by Durcan, accelerated past Watson's talented Kandar du Falgas 200m from the post.

The 2010 Al Shindaga Sprint winner and Al Quoz Sprint fourth, War Artist, surged back to form, after an unplaced effort in Dubai last month, to claim a 1,200m turf handicap for double-winning Peslier.

Also in the winners' enclosure was Johnny Murtagh who claimed his first UAE victory since his days as the retained rider for Mike de Kock. He rode Calvados Blues in a last-to-first victory for Godolphin in the 2,504m Meydan Masters Invitational. The result of the race did not count towards the Meydan Masters championship, but that did not bother Murtagh.

The former Ballydoyle stable rider, who recently got a new job as the Aga Khan's first jockey in Ireland, said he was forced to disregard the instructions issued by Godolphin trainer, Mahmoud al Zarooni.

"I was told to keep him quite handy but after we jumped he didn't want to go early so I didn't want to push him," said Murtagh, "In fairness, when I pulled him out and asked him to go he responded well."