Aussie Williams 'Masters' Meydan Challenge

Aussie Williams 'Masters' Meydan Challenge
Photo: Andrew Watkins/Dubai Racing Club
Craig Williams won the third annual Meydan Masters International Jockeys Championship.

Australian Craig Williams prevailed over Ireland’s Colm O’Donoghue to capture the third annual Meydan Masters International Jockeys Championship Jan. 6.

Williams took the title with 110 points in the four-race competition. O’Donoghue had to settle for second place with 96 points.

Longines sponsored the two-day event that kicked off the 2012 Dubai World Cup Carnival. The contest brought together 12 of the top jockeys from all over the world, the first of which was held on Jan. 5. That race, an eight-furlong handicap run over the all-weather Tapeta main track, was won by O’Donoghue, who was aboard the 8-year-old gelding Furnace for trainer Erwan Charpy.

Japan’s Kenichi Ikezoe won the first leg on Friday, taking the nine-furlong all-weather handicap with Street Act.

Williams then broke through in the second leg Friday with a decisive victory aboard Graymalkin. Frankie Dettori edged O’Donoghue to grab second place in the eight-furlong contest when his Star Surprise nosed out Landowner in a photo.

The scores were so close that going into the last race, eight of the 12 jockeys stood a chance of landing the title. The final leg, a seven-furlong turf handicap, was won by Christophe Lemaire, who booted home Firestreak to win by a short head over Angel’s Pursuit, who was ridden by Williams. The second-place finish was enough to secure the victory for Williams, since O’Donoghue’s mount, Energia Carioca, trailed home last.

A delighted Williams said afterward, “These jockey competitions are great fun and it is brilliant to win one here in Dubai at such a magnificent venue. It was very close going into the last, and I am really pleased to come out on top. I rode as stable jockey to John Sadler for one season about 10 years ago, and have always really liked Dubai.”

Americans Calvin Borel and John Velazquez were invited to compete but could not take part because of scheduling conflicts.

Earlier on the card, Godolphin’s Gamilati cruised home an easy winner in the UAE 1000 Guineas Trial Sponsored by Longines. The 3-year-old daughter of Bernardini   took command three furlongs out to win comfortably by 2 3/4 lengths over Alsindi, covering the seven furlongs in 1:27.45.

Dettori piloted the filly for trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni, who plans on using the race as a stepping stone for the listed UAE 1000 Guineas on Feb. 3.

 

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