Feature Story

Prince makes Watson Firebreak king

Prince makes Watson Firebreak king Jan 27, 2023

By Duane Fonseca

Red Stables’ domination in this year’s Group 3 Firebreak Stakes was absolute with Prince Eiji leading home a 1-2-3 for trainer Doug Watson in the 1600m contest on dirt, the feature of the fourth meeting of the 2023 Dubai World Cup Carnival.

Meydan was wet and the dirt surface had been deemed muddy on account of a downpour that persisted nearly half-way through the card. Contested as the sixth of eight events on the programme, by the time the Firebreak was ready to get underway the rain had stopped. But conditions remained virtually unchanged, with those trailing having to deal with plenty of kickback.

And in such conditions Sam Hitchcott ensured Prince Eiji finished a length and a quarter ahead of stable companion Ever Fast, with Thegreatcollection a further half length back in third.

Ever Given, trained by Salem bin Ghadayer for His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, went forward after the start with jockey Mickael Barzalona keen to avoid the kickback. Hitchcott kept Prince Eiji, winner of the Listed Dubai Creek Mile over course and distance in December, just off the pace set  by Ever Given but hot on his heels. It might have helped wear Bin Ghadayer’s charge down as he started to fade in the final 200m with 7yo gelded Dubawi, Prince Eiji, more than happy to take over. Everfast looked good in the hands of Pat Dobbs, who had won the Dubai Creek Mile with Prince Eiji, but the Irishman could not get his ride to find that little bit extra needed to win.

Thegreatcollection with Adrie de Vries in the saddle blitzed through in the final stages and finished strong to round off the podium spots for Watson, who enjoyed a second success in the race following Muntazah’s triumph in the 2019 running. 

Charlie Appleby trained Naval Power’s late bid was a successful one under William Buick in the Listed Jumeirah Classic on 1800m of turf, the 3yo Teofilo colt marking his UAE debut with victory after his solid late speed ensured he won by a length and a quarter from teammate and stable companion One Nation the ride of Barzalona. A further three and a quarter back in third was Highbank with Richard Mullen up. All three were trained by Appleby.

Lahresh nailed the card opener with the rain falling hard: winning the Festival City Stakes, a 1900m conditions event, for Musabbeh Al Mheiri under Antonio Fresu, who eased his mount off in the final 100m but still won by four and a half lengths. 

The Listed Dubai Sprint over 1200m brought up a first ever success for trainer Gordon Elliott with only his third runner. Elliott has only ever run Coachello here, but the 5yo Dunkerque gelding had plenty to show on his third start this month as he sneaked up along the inside of Charlie Appleby’s Man Of Promise and hit the front 50m from the finish to win under Dobbs.

Another surprise ensued in the subsequent Longines Legend Diver Collection 1900m handicap on dirt where Bhupat Seemar’s Franz Strauss made his debut on the surface count with a gritty performance under Tadhg O’Shea, the pair managing to hold off Fawzi Nass’ Withering by a neck.

One of the best performances of this year’s Dubai World Cup Carnival was given by Appleby’s Dream Of Love, who overcame a slow start and went from last to second in the straight to fall only just short of teammate Mawj, trained by Saeed bin Suroor and piloted by Pat Cosgrave, in the Jumeirah Fillies Classic 1400m conditions run on turf. A short head set the Godolphin pair apart after the photo was called in.

Danish trainer Soren Jensen and French jockey Theo Bachelot also opened their UAE accounts Friday night, after Good Fortune avoided being preyed upon by White Wolf in the 2000m Zabeel Turf handicap, which was won by a short head.

Seemar and O’Shea completed doubles on the night after Western Symphony brought the pair victory in the 1400m Longines Record Collection handicap, which drew the curtains down on a wet evening at Meydan.