Heavily favored Mendip took the lead at the top of the stretch and was never challenged, sailing home to an easy 2 1/4 length victory in the Al Maktoum Challenge-Round I Sponsored by Longines (UAE-III) at Meydan Race Course Jan. 13. The race was the featured event on the opening night of the 2011 Dubai Carnival.
Ridden confidently by Frankie Dettori, the Kentucky-bred son of Harlan's Holiday raced comfortably in third as Sea Lord and My Indy led the field of 14 through the early stages of the eight-furlong contest. Sea Lord continued to hold a one-length advantage as the field entered the far turn, as Mendip eased into second over a tiring My Indy.
As the field entered the home straight, Dettori asked Mendip for more and the response was immediate, as the 4-year-old colt shot to the front and opened up several lengths on the rest of the field. Mendip continued to draw off through the stretch while being geared down, eventually crossing the wire 2 1/4 lengths in front.
South African-bred Imbongi, who captured the 2010 Zabeel Mile (UAE-IIT), closed strongly for second, with Win For Sure finishing another quarter-length back in third.
The final time for the race, which was run over the all-weather Tapeta surface, was 1:36.45.
Mendip, who began his career in the Godolphin colors, now races in the dark green silks of Sheikh Mohammed’s son, Sheikh Hamdan. He was making his first start since finishing third in the 2010 UAE Derby (UAE-II).
Regarding the lengthy absence, winning trainer Saeed bin Suroor said, “We have given him plenty of time to come back and he has really thrived since coming back into work. I was very hopeful and he really delivered in style.”
The victory improved Mendip’s overall record to four wins from five starts, with the $120,412 winner’s share of the purse bringing his total earnings to $508,873.
Mendip was bred by Jayeff B Stables and is out of Well Spring, by Coronado's Quest. Well Spring is a daughter of the multiple stakes winner Chaposa Springs, who captured both the Test Stakes (gr. I) and Ballerina Stakes (gr. I) during her successful racing career.