Issue 792

COLUMN adiyat racing 24 ADIYAT RACING PLUS ISSUE 792 Thursday 6th April 2023 The orchestra is about to leave, the curtain about come down and the stage about to be cleared: another season of performances from some of the world’s biggest stars is almost over. Racing UAE is set to go into summer hibernation, but already thoughts are turning to the next production. Al Ain closes the show this Friday, and the main actors for the 2023-24 edition will not be decided for quite some time, but the ‘extras’ are being assembled even now. This week’s Meydan sale represented the first stage of certain owners and trainers looking to the future. As for the immediate past, it was reassuring to see that most of the familiar names were back in place in the final tables for trainers and jockeys. Doug Watson wrestled back the trainers’ title from the Seemar stable now directed by Bhupat, which again would have been champion in those countries that decide the issue on prize money. Ernst Oertel completed the inevitable triumvirate at the top, while Musabbeh Al Mheiri and Salem bin Ghadayer did their usual best for local pride, while a new name sliding up the ranks was Khalifa Al Neyadi, who slipped into sixth place with another increased total, having worked his way from six to nine to 11 to 14 and finally to 23 over the last five seasons. Tadhg O’Shea continued to set records on the way to his umpteenth jockeys’ title, with Antonio Fresu ever the champion in waiting, while Ray Dawson, with 33 winners compared to the previous season’s 21, continued his climb towards the summit and took third place. Pat Dobbs made a welcome return to the top four, shading the ever dependable Bernardo Pinheiro, who in turn preceded the old faithfuls Dane O’Neill, whose best ever season of 22 winners was crowned by Danyah in the Al Quoz Sprint, and Richard Mullen, who did well to break 20 for his second season as a freelance. Underpinning everything is the performance of Godolphin, whose pincer movement of Saeed bin Suroor and Charlie Appleby combined for 25 winners from 137 runners, both totals being reductions on the 2021-22 season, when 28 winners came from 159 runners. The chief fall in numbers came from the Bin Suroor axis, which provided 65 runners to last season’s 89, so well done to him for equalling his previous score of nine wins, while Appleby slipped slightly from 19 to 16. Despite only a small drop in the number of winners, Godolphin’s prize money haul was quite significantly lower than the previous season’s, falling from $17.08m to $13.11m, which came during a campaign in which the Dubai Racing Club in particular substantially increased prize funds in certain areas. Two major new races, the Thunder Snow Challenge and Ipi Tombe Stakes, produced interesting outcomes. The Thunder Snow proved a triumph for Bahrain, in the shape of Fawzi Nass’ Salute The Soldier, over Uruguay and Julio Olascoaga’s Atletico El Culano, while Godolphin dominated the Ipi Tombe with a one-two for the Bin Suroor stable and Appleby providing the fourth. The Jumeirah Turf series, featuring five races over three meetings, produced some exciting finishes and Godolphin made hay with three winners. The series is worth pursuing, but if one area needs attention it is Super Saturday, which as was pointed out here last week hardly lived up to its pre-season publicity tag as ‘the official dress rehearsal for the Dubai World Cup’. Maybe the promoters of the Goffs breeze-up sale would be interested in providing a new focal point for Super Saturday with million-dollar races on dirt and turf for 3yo graduates of their sale. Food for thought, perhaps. Meantime, enjoy summer and roll on the next production of Racing UAE. — CURTAIN DOWN, HEADS UP HOWARD WRIGHT