Sheikh Hamdan's Almoonqith showed his staying power Feb. 28 at Meydan Racecourse in winning the Nad al Sheba Trophy (UAE-III), a race marred by the breakdown of favorite Cavalryman.
A 5-year-old son of Dynaformer, Almoonqith took charge 300 meters out and bested French stayer Rio Tigre by 1 1/2 lengths. Star Empire, runner-up to Cavalryman in last year's race and a stablemate of the winner, was third, another 1 1/2 lengths back in the field of 11.
Godolphin's 9-year-old Cavalryman, seeking a repeat in the 2,810-meter (about 1 3/4-mile) event, was reported to have injured his right hind leg while racing down the backstretch and was pulled up sharply midway through the race by William Buick. The group I winner and earner of more than $3 million was transported to Meydan's equine hospital for evaluation.
Fire Fighting took command soon after the start and opened a five-length advantage on the backstretch as Cavalryman loped along in mid-division and Almoonqith relaxed at the back of the field.
With Fire Fighting wilting with a quarter mile to run, Havana Beat was up to take over, but had no answer for the powerful rally of Almoonqith, who finished in 2:54.47 on turf rated good, earning his first stakes victory.
Almoonqith's victory under Paul Hanagan was worth $50.60 in North American pools.
Trained by Mike de Kock, Almoonqith won a one-mile handicap Jan. 17 at Meydan, but was off the board in two subsequent starts, both at 1 1/4 miles. A neophyte at the Nad al Sheba Trophy distance, he was a comfortable winner on the stretch-out while improving his career stats to 4-3-1 from 15 starts.
Hanagan rode four winners on the day, all for Sheikh Hamdan, and said the stable was confident in Almoonqith potential at the new distance.
"We were pretty sure Almoonqith was going to stay the distance. It was just a case whether or not he was good enough," Hanagan said. "As it transpired, I was always happy and that was a big performance."
Sheikh Hamdan's Shadwell Estate secured Almoonqith for $725,000 at the 2011 Keeneland September yearling sale. He was bred in Kentucky by Padua Stables from grade III winner Bohemian Lady, a half sister to grade I winner and sire Any Given Saturday, and consigned by Three Chimneys Sales, agent.