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Thursday, January 05, 2012


Who masters Meydan?


Longines, the official timekeeper at Meydan, generously sponsor Friday's Meydan meeting which is highlighted by the UAE 1000 Guineas Trial and also features the three concluding legs of the Meydan Masters International Jockeys Challenge.

Six have been declared for the 1400m all-weather feature with Godolphin's Gamilati and Alsindi, having her first start for last season’s Champion Trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe, look likely to dominate the minds of Pick Six players.


Trained by Godolphin’s Mahmoud Al Zarooni, Gamilati was a Group Two winner last summer and has to give weight to her five rivals as a result, with retained jockey Frankie Dettori in the saddle.

However, Al Zarooni sounds hopeful and said: "She has been working well since she arrived in Dubai and is enjoying the weather. She did not run as well on her final start in England as we had hoped she would but she has had a nice break and we are looking forward to running her again. It will be her first try on [the all-weather] but we do not think that will be a problem."

Alsindi was a Group Three winner in England for Clive Brittain and she therefore gives weight to the other four runners. She will be ridden by Royston Ffrench who said: "She has settled in well and seems to handle the [the all-weather] in the mornings. Obviously Gamilati was very useful in England and a serious rival but we should run well."

Mary Fildes, representing the UK and trainer Stan Moore, looks best of the rest.

The best handicap on the card is the penultimate 2200m Longines Master Moon Phases on the all-weather surface. Tahaamah should go close for the Godolphin team prepared by Saeed bin Suroor, but Al Raihe's Sharaayeen ran well on his local debut at Jebel Ali last week and jockey Richard Hills said: "I was very pleased with that run and expect him to run a big race."

Hills won the inaugural Meydan Masters in 2010 but there will be a new champion this year as neither he, nor last year's winner Calvin Borel, are taking part in the four race series.

Combined, the Meydan Masters jockeys won a staggering 61 Group One races around the world during 2011 and include the winning riders of the Dubai World Cup, Caulfield Cup, W.S. Cox Plate, Melbourne Cup, King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

There are also seven that won Classics in 2011 which included the Derby, St Leger, 2000 Guineas, 1000 Guineas, Hong Kong Derby, Japanese Derby and Irish Derby.

The 12 riders are; Mickael Barzalona, Maxime Guyon and Christophe Lemaire from France; William Buick, Ryan Moore, Colm O'Donoghue and Tom Queally from Great Britain and Ireland; Italy’s Mirco Demuro and Frankie Dettori; Kenichi Ikezoe from Japan; Andrasch Starke from Germany and Australia’s Craig Williams.

Points are accumulated based on the riders’ finishes in the race, and the winner is determined by the highest point total secured in those races.

The first of the races was run on Thursday night and the series concludes with a 1400m Longines St Imier Collection Part Of The Meydan Masters International Jockeys Championship handicap, the only race of the four to be contested on turf. Sadly only 11 were declared, which meant one Meydan Masters jockey would not ride. After the random draw, it was William Buick who did not have a mount, and subsequently awarded five points.

The weights in that race are headed by Finjaan, trained by Doug Watson and to be ridden by Frenchman Maxime Guyon.

Watson said: "The horse is in good form and ran really well at Abu Dhabi last time. The 1400m should be ideal and we have a good jockey so we have to be hopeful."

Laa Rayb was fourth at Abu Dhabi on his most recent start for Dhruba Selvaratnam and has the assistance of Japan's Keni Ikezoe. They should go close, while Frankie Dettori's legion of fans will be hoping for a bold effort from bottom weight Cartel.

Dettori, will find two of their runners in opposition with Dubai World Cup winning jockey Mirco Demuro on Al Aasifh and Tom Queally, associated last year with the remarkable Frankel, partners Les Troyens. Both are trained by Saeed bin Suroor.




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