By Jason Ford
The opening night of the inaugural Dubai International Racing Carnival would certainly have to be deemed a success as 26 of the international horses trained on the Nad Al Sheba track lined up in the five Thoroughbred races - over half the night's runners.The attraction is the Carnival is $21million that will be won and lost by the time the March 27 Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) has been won or lost.
Trainer Mark Johnston said of the international carnival, "We struggled with the horses we raced here last year and have hand-picked six this time with specific races in mind. We have trained them harder this time and they are fitter."You have to support an initiative such as this and the prize money is a big plus but it is nice to pit your wits against trainers from different backgrounds and compare methods. We are all still learning."The night's feature race was the Maktoum Challenge Round I (UAE-III) contested over a mile on the dirt track. State Shinto, under jockey Ryan Moore, hit the front about a furlong out and prevailed in a photo finish with Tropical Star.Partnered by Ryan Moore, the winner, an 8-year-old son of Pleasant Colony, made steady progress, between horses throughout the straight and just held on. "We thought he might need it but has done it well in the end - he is a bit of a character but has bags of ability," Moore said.State Shinto, whose previous outing was a fourth place behind Mineshaft in a grade 1 at Belmont Park for Kiaran McLaughlin, made history last year when contesting the Dubai World Cup for the third year in a row. This was his first start for Al Kurdi, having been previously trained by John Sadler and Saeed bin Suroor.His dam, Sha Tha, a daughter of Mr Prospector, was a grade II winner in the U. S. and was also second in the French One Thousand Guineas (Fr-I). Her first foal, Shastri, was a listed stakes-placed filly by Alleged and she has foaled five winners in total. These include Suzuka, a 4-year-old son of A. P. Indy, who is also in Dubai having been bought by Rashid Boursely for 22,000 guineas at Tattersalls last Autumn. The second dam, Savannah Dancer, was a grade II winning daughter of Northern Dancer and was also the dam of the group III winner Brier Creek and is grandam of group I-winning juvenile One Cool Cat. Valoris, the third dam, won the Irish One Thousand Guineas (Ire-I). Sha Tha has a weanling filly by Sunday Silence but no juvenile in training. The six-furlong handicap was won by trainer Al Kurdi when jockey Ted Durcan scored on San Salvador, who was completing a treble for the trainer after his Velte had made virtually all in the group I Maktoum Challenge for the purebred Arabians under Gary Hind. It was no real surprise that South African Mike De Kock saddled the first international winner. He has a string of 11, which is more than any other trainer, and he has a great record on the track having saddled Victory Moon and Ipi Tombe to win on Dubai World Cup card last year. His Prince of War, under Weichong Marwing, landed the 10-furlong handicap which was the first race on the turf this season. They completed a double when Crimson Palace, a South African-bred 4-year-old daughter of Elliodor, was a very easy winner of the concluding conditions race over just short of nine-furlongs. Crimson Palace was making her first start for U.S.-based Team Valor, which purchased her last spring in South Africa. Crimson Palace completed the distance in track record time of 1:47.48, lowering by one-fifth of a second the previous record set by Team Valor's Ipi Tombe in winning the $2-million Duty Free (UAE-I) in 2003.With a record of five wins in seven starts, Crimson Palace is scheduled for one more race before attempting to give Team Valor back-to-back wins in the Duty Free. As a 3-year-old, the filly defeated older horses in course record time while winning the Paddock Stakes in South Africa.
Brett Doyle came from last to first on Bold Demand, a veteran 10-year-old Rainbow Quest entire trained by Kuwaiti Rashid Boursely to land the seven-furlong handicap, back on the dirt, in good style.