'Riley' Springs Upset in Zabeel Mile
Photo: Andrew Watkins
Rileyskeepingfaith and Ahmed Ajtebi upset the Zabeel Mile.

Dismissed at odds of 14-1, Rileyskeepingfaith stormed down the center of the course to spring a major upset in the $250,000 Zabeel Mile Sponsored by Dubai Duty Free (UAE-IIT) on March 10. The eight-furlong turf contest was the highlight on the closing night of the 2011 Dubai Racing Carnival at Meydan Racecourse.

Originally conditioned by Mick Channon for owner Jolly Roger Racing, the 5-year-old gelded son of Hunting Lion was purchased by Godolphin for 106,000 guineas at the Tattersalls Autumn sale last October. Turned over to trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni, Rileyskeepingfaith notched his first victory for his new connections in the Zabeel Mile, which was his first time stretching out past seven furlongs.

Jockey Ahmed Ajtebi kept Rileyskeepingfaith settled in mid-pack early, as Navajo Chief and Field Event shot to the front and set a sharp pace. That pair was followed closely by Across the Rhine and Silverside, as favored Fanunalter was content to race at the rear of the field early on.

Navajo Chief soon shook loose of Field Event and opened up a 2 1/2-length lead on the rest of the field as they raced down the backstretch. The 4-year-old colt continued to hold onto his lead as the field entered the turn, but several horses were beginning to make progress from the rear of the pack. One of those runners was Rileyskeepingfaith, who had been pulled to the outside by Ajtebi for a clear run down the home straight.

With two furlongs left to run, Navajo Chief began to sputter and was quickly collared by Across the Rhine. Rileyskeepingfaith was in full flight out in the center of the course and blew past the leaders with a furlong to run, cruising to an easy 2 1/4-length victory.

Fareer got up for second, with Fanunalter settling for third, another 1 1/2 lengths further back. The final time for the eight furlongs was 1:37.89 over the good turf course.

Rileyskeepingfaith was bred in England by M. Barrett. He is out of Keeping The Faith, by Ajraas.

 

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