Dubai International Racing Carnival action returned to Nad Al Sheba on Thursday on a seven race card kindly sponsored by Shadwell Estates and featuring the opening rounds of the Al Maktoum Challenge, both over 1600m on dirt.

The Doug Watson-trained Kandar Du Falgas became the fourth horse to win the Purebred Arabian Group 1 version twice with Richard Hills in the saddle as the pair repeated their victory of 12 months ago.

Never far off the pace, he was sent for home 600m out and always looked likely to hold Rod Simpson’s Fryvolous who was a gallant second under Daragh O’Donohoe.

Hills explained: “He is a nice purebred and these are his ideal conditions. We had hoped to get a run into him before but, as you can see, he goes well fresh. His best form entitled him to go close and hopefully he can win again.”

Godolphin made a flying start to their 2009 campaign with My Indy running out the very easy winner of the Thoroughbred Maktoum Challenge I, again over 1600m on dirt, in the hands of Frankie Dettori.

The four-year-old skipped clear of his field about two furlongs out and was never going to be caught to the delight of his jockey who said: “It has been a great first night back and My Indy has won that well. I assume the second round of the Maktoum Challenge will be his next target.”

Earlier, Dettori and Bin Suroor wasted little time opening their accounts with Sos Brillante, their first runner of the campaign, landing the 1400m dirt conditions race for three-year-old fillies.

Bin Suroor said: “She is a nice filly and I am very pleased with that.”

Ireland supplied the first international winner of the carnival when Miss Gorica won the first turf race, a 1500m handicap for fillies and mares.

Champion Jockey Ted Durcan was in the saddle and said: “That is a nice start to the evening and Carnival and I was always travelling well.”

Mike de Kock has trainer more carnival winners than anybody and Silver Mist opened his 2009 account in style when winning the 1500m turf handicap in the hands of Kevin Shea who said: “We were drawn wide which was a big concern but he has carried me into the race nicely and done it well.”

New trainer Mubarak Bin Shafya won the other two turf handicaps with Ahmad Ajtebi, no longer an apprentice, scoring a decisive victory on Third Set in the 1777m race.

Ajtebi said: “Things have been going so well lately and this is just brilliant; to ride a Carnival winner on my local track.”

Jesus Rosales then won the concluding 2400m handicap on the same trainer’s Crime Scene in the colours of Her Royal Highness Princess Haya.