Hunter’s Light shining bright ahead of Dubai World Cup
Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor was in dominant form at Meydan’s Super Saturday meeting, saddling four of the seven Thoroughbred races, including both the Group 1 features, providing Godolphin trainers with their 200th and 201st Group 1 winners.
Pride of place went to Hunter’s Light, winner of the concluding round of the Al Maktoum Challenge over the same 2,000m Tapeta course and distance as the world’s richest horse race, the $10 million (Dh36.7m) Dubai World Cup.
Dubai Millennium, Street Cry and Electrocutionist have all won both races in the past for the trainer and Hunter’s Light certainly advertised his World Cup claims in style with Silvestre De Sousa in the saddle.
De Sousa was on Hunter’s Light when he won the middle round of the Al Maktoum Challenge, as well as when the horse was the 199th Group 1 winner saddled by a Godolphin handler in Italy in November.
De Sousa said: “This horse is a real favourite of mine as he was my first European Group 1 winner last year, and now my first Group 1 winner in the UAE.
“He was impressive in the second round but even more so this time, and he goes really well on this Tapeta surface.
“We can look forward to a crack at the big race at the end of the month.”
William Buick was then aboard stable companion Sajjhaa, who registered her third 2013 Carnival win in the concluding Group 1 Jebel Hatta, over the same 1,800m turf course and distance as the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free. She actually holds the track record after her win in the Balanchine Stakes.
Posting her first win at the highest level, she weaved through to lead close home, and Buick said: “There was a wall of horses in front of us early in the straight so we had to be patient, but once the gaps opened she picked up well and battled bravely to lead close home. She is game and clearly loves it here in Dubai.”
Bin Suroor added: “It has been a great evening and the horses have been in great form all year.
“To get four winners at the second biggest meeting of the season is a big achievement and we can look forward to Dubai World Cup night with some big chances.”
Earlier, African Story repeated his Group 3 Burj Nahaar of 12 months ago and will defend his crown in the Group 2 Godolphin Mile, over the same 1,600m course and distance, on the big night.
Mickael Barzalona rode and Bin Suroor said: “Trying to win both races again was always the plan and he just loves this Tapeta surface.”
Kieren Fallon was in the saddle on Secret Number, who initiated the quartet when he led close home to win the Listed Al Bastakiya, the 1,900m prep race for the UAE Derby.
Bin Suroor added: “He has now won both his starts and is a nice young horse.
“The UAE Derby is obviously the target.”