Local favorite The Blue Eye swept by pacesetting American invader Money Multiplier in the stretch of the H. H. the Emir's Trophy (G1) Feb. 24 at Al Rayyan Racecourse in Doha to win the event for the second time in three years.
Noor Al Hawa also ran well late to edge Money Multiplier for second in the top Thoroughbred event on the Qatar racing calendar, worth US$1 million.
The Blue Eye, a 6-year-old son of Dubawi, started his career in France but has raced in Qatar since early 2015. He won the Emir's Trophy in 2016 but was a disappointing ninth last year. His return to glory was greeted with a resounding cheer from the well-populated grandstand as His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar, watched the proceedings.
The winner's regular rider, Harry Bentley, said he felt going into the race The Blue Eye "had a massive chance" off a second-place finish in the local Trophy Trial and a record of nine previous wins over the course.
"Anywhere you go, course form is very important," Bentley said. "And we know that he loves it here."
Dean Lavy, representing Money Multiplier's owners, Al Shahania Stud, lamented the 6-year-old Lookin At Lucky ridgling hit the front as the field hit the first turn.
"If we'd been able to tuck in, we'd have won," Lavy said.
Jockey Frankie Dettori added, "The pace slowed right down, and I had no choice but to take him to the lead."
Lavy said the Chad Brown trainee—who won the Monmouth Stakes (G2T) last July and was second in the 2017 Sword Dancer Stakes (G1T) at Saratoga Race Course—will return to the United States. He arrived in Doha following a seventh-place finish in the Gulfstream Park Turf Stakes (G1T) Feb. 10, and Lavy said the travel did not seem to trouble him.
The order of finish in the Emir's Trophy reflected the increasingly international flavor of the race. Runner-up Noor Al Hawa is trained in Germany by Andreas Wohler. The fourth-place finisher, Mac Mahon, was bred in Italy and raced there. Elbereth, who rallied to finish fifth, was bred by his owner, David Taylor, a children's guitar teacher in England.
The outcome of the Trophy also might send The Blue Eye traveling.
"God willing, I would like to travel with him, perhaps to Newmarket," said trainer Jassim Mohammed Ghazali Jahromi. Asked about Royal Ascot, he said, "Maybe."
The program of eight races, including events for both Thoroughbreds and purebred Arabians, offered US$3.5 million in purse money. Undercard races could have implications for later this season in England—even the Two Thousand Guineas (G1).
The Dukhan Sprint Sponsored by Breeders' Cup (G3) went to Intisaab in a close finish with Izzthatright. Winning trainer David O'Meara said he was so confident coming into the race he told his party when they landed in Doha, "We're going to take the 'dough' out of Doha. They'll have to just call it 'Ha' when we leave."
O'Meara said there is a possibility Intisaab, a 7-year-old gelding by Elnadim, might return to England to contest the All-Weather Championships finals at Lingfield March 30.
Tip To Win worked to the lead in the final 100 meters to land the Al Biddah Mile (G2) for 3-year-olds, leaving his London-based owner, Anne Cowley, shedding tears of joy and trainer Roger Teal contemplating the Two Thousand Guineas. "I don't know," he said. "Maybe."
In the most important race of the day for locals, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifi Al Thani horses finished first and second as Gazwan held on to win over a fast-closing Ebraz in the H. H. The Emir's Sword. Both are trained by Julian Smart, a native of England whose career has taken him through Canada and California before he settled in Doha.