Championship Claims Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort - Korea Lands First Carnival Winner

The locally-trained Championship emerged much the best from the Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort sponsored by Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City – District One at Meydan’s third Dubai World Cup Carnival meeting on Thursday.

Trained by Ahmed Bin Harmash and ridden by jockey, Colm O’Donoghue Championship was a classy winner of the $250,000 1400m race, the first major turf contest of the season.

Winner of the 1600m Listed National Day Cup at Abu Dhabi on his penultimate outing, Championship and O’Donoghue were basically never headed and gained ample compensation for their heartbreaking defeat on their previous outing when caught in the dying strides by Light The Lights in the 1800m Listed Singspiel Stakes two weeks ago.

Championship was chased home by Godolphin’s Flash Fire and the Mike de Kock duo of Noah From Goa, on his local debut and Anaerobio, winner of this race in 2014.

“Ahmad and his team deserve all the credit,” said O’Donoghue after the race. “Championship had a tough race two weeks ago but they have freshened him up and he was in great form tonight."

“I was always happy out in front and he was striding along nicely so I asked him to quicken just after halfway and he found plenty. He just kept responding throughout the straight and that was a good performance in a quality race.

“I’m not sure where he will go next; that is up to Ahmad, he is the boss, but it is a great result for a brilliant team to work for.”

As impressive as Championship was, the night belonged to Korea which became the 21st country to win a race in the Dubai World Cup Carnival. Trainer Young-Kwan Kim saddled his country’s first Carnival winner when Main Stay under Irish rider, Pat Cosgrave dominated in the 1200m District One dirt Handicap.

Actually a little slow to start, Cosgrave rushed his mount to the front and, after 100m, they gained a narrow initiative.

The Taj and Spirit Quartz were in his slipstream throughout the vast majority of the race but had no answer when Main Stay quickened halfway up the straight.

Both weakened and, with nobody emerging from the pack, crossed the line almost three lengths clear.

“To be honest I really thought he was a 1400m horse and might find this a bit sharp,” said Cosgrave. “However, he was soon into his stride and able to get to the front so, knowing he was going to stay the trip well, I was keen to be positive."

“He has dirt form in Korea and an American pedigree so we had to be hopeful the surface would suit and it is obviously great to get a winner after hitting the post earlier on.”

Cosgrave was referring to having finished second earlier in a 2000m handicap aboard Triple Nine, like this winner, trained by Young-Kwan Kim whose Seoul Bullet was also fourth in the race won by Main Stay.

The main support race was the UAE 1000 Guineas Trial Sponsored By District One Villas, held over 1400m on dirt and won in style by Godolphin’s Really Special.

Unbeaten after two starts in England, including a Listed race success at Newmarket on her second outing, she has now won on turf, the all-weather and dirt for her trainer, Saeed bin Suroor, who was saddling his 198th Carnival winner.

Ridden on this occasion by Christophe Soumillon, she stalked the early pace set by Richard Mullen aboard the Richard Fahey-trained Rajar and, entering the straight had the race between themselves and the Doug Watson-trained Complimenti.

However, once Soumillon asked his mount to win her race she responded in style, shooting between her two rivals 200m out and they soon had matters under control.

“She is a nice filly but still learning as she was very green going to post and then at the stalls,” said Soumillon. “I wanted to keep her out of any kickback which I was able to do and then, when I asked her, she changed legs and quickened nicely."

“She handles the dirt but will certainly be as good back on turf and will stay further.”

That was the first of two victories for Godolphin on the night with Charlie Appleby saddling a winner in the closing District One Mansions, a 2000m handicap on the turf. It was claimed by Artigiano, who was finding his way back into the Winner’s Enclosure for the first time since breaking his maiden at Leicester in May 2012.

English-based trainers monopolised the Meydan Sobha Trophy, a 1000m turf handicap, supplying not just the winner, the Jeremy Gask-trained Medicean Man, but also the next three home with Sir Maximilian and Harry Hurricane dead heating for second and Line of Reason claiming fourth.

Medicean Man was given a confident ride by apprentice David Parkes, going from virtually last at halfway to lead about 200m from home before running on strongly to score his fourth Carnival victory in striking fashion.

“He is a grand old horse who loves it here in Dubai,” said Parkes. “He is an absolute pleasure to ride as he just travels so strongly and has a great turn of foot as he showed there."

“In fact, he quickened so well we actually hit the front sooner than planned but he kept on going.

“He is eleven now but retains his speed and enthusiasm so it would be nice to think he could win another while he is here.”

The opener, the District One Trophy, a 1600m dirt handicap, was won easily by the Doug Watson-trained Nathr with Jim Crowley sporting the famous blue and white silks of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Well away, Crowley was content to settle him just behind the early speed but always looked to be travelling well and, leaving the home turn, sent his mount to the front.

They soon puts distance between themselves and their toiling rivals, crossing the line four lengths clear of Muhtaram.

“We did not have a particularly good draw but he broke very well which was crucial,” said Crowley. “We were always travelling strongly and, once able to give him a bit of a breather on the turn, I was keen to set sail for home."

“He responded very well and ran on very strongly over what is probably his optimum trip.

“He will have to step up in class now I guess, but on this evidence he can be competitive upped in grade.”

Mickael Barzalona was seen at his very best aboard the Salem bin Ghadayer-trained Hunting Ground who was never headed in the Meydan Sobha, a 2000m dirt handicap.

Second on his previous outing, when slowly away, he made no such mistake this time and shot out of the stalls to lead from the outset.

Committed for home leaving the final turn, he never looked likely to be caught although Korean challenger, Triple Nine did run on in the final stages to claim a closing second.

“He ran very well last time but somewhat missed the break,” said Barzalona. “Therefore I was conscious we needed a good break and he was very quickly away. He enjoyed himself out in front and, knowing he stays further, I was happy to commit for home early and he has galloped on well."

“He deserved to get his head in front and it is a good result for the whole team.”