Winter Lightning (IRE), a half sister to multiple group 1 winner Thunder Snow, highlighted the second night of the 2018 Dubai World Cup Carnival Jan. 18, when she edged out Rayya in a pulsating finish to the UAE One Thousand Guineas Trial Sponsored by Al Maryah Island over seven furlongs at Meydan.
The Doug Watson-trained Rayya, who was victorious in her sole previous outing, tried to take the win in front-running fashion under Pat Dobbs. Entering the home straight, she had 13 of her rivals beaten, but Godolphin's Winter Lightning, under Pat Cosgrave, drew alongside 300 meters out and struck the front soon after.
Making just her second start—she finished second in a 1,400-meter Newmarket maiden in October—the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Winter Lightning held gamely, as Rayya fought back to the wire and the pair flashed past the post locked together.
"It was only her second start and luckily her head was down on the line when it mattered," Cosgrave said. "I probably went to the front too soon as it transpired, given her inexperience, but she certainly seems to have plenty of class and you would like to think she can build on this."
Winter Lightning is also a full sister to group 1-placed Ihtimal, who won both the UAE One Thousand Guineas Sponsored By Nova, An IPIC Empowered Company (G1) and UAE Oaks Sponsored By Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group (G3) in 2014—two races that appear to be on deck for her younger sibling.
"We have always thought that Winter Lightning was very good," bin Suroor said. "She had some problems early on, so we gave her five months off, and she is improving all the time now. She looked very good tonight and we will talk to Sheikh Mohammed, but her next target could be the UAE One Thousand Guineas (Feb. 8)."
Also on the card was the group 3 Dubawi Stakes sponsored by Borealis. The 1,200-meter dirt sprint was won in by Godolphin's Comicas under William Buick for trainer Charlie Appleby.
Upgraded this year from listed status, the Dubawi Stakes was one of the few feature races in the UAE to allude Godolphin, but Comicas remedied that in style.
Settled in midfield among seven runners, Buick's mount looked in trouble at the halfway point, behind a furious early pace set by Yalta, who was constantly hassled by My Catch and Muarrab. Muarrab looked to have gained a decisive initiative 300 meters out, but his early exertions took their toll and he was defenseless to the late charge of the winner.
Comicas also reversed course and distance form with Muarrab from the Garhoud Sprint Sponsored By Lincoln Navigator four weeks ago. Fan favorite Reynaldothewizard, at 12-years-old, closed well to finish third.
"He is a lovely, honest horse who handles this surface particularly well, and the one thing we do know about him is he may be a bit outpaced early, but he is going to run home strongly," Buick said. "That basically is what he has done here, because they went very hard up front, as we expected, and it has panned out perfectly for him. The horse deserves a big win like this, and it is great for the whole team."