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Heavy Metal rocks Thunder Snow
By A Staff Reporter January 13, 2018
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DUBAI: The opening night of the 2018 Dubai World Cup Carnival was highlighted by the $250,000 Al Maktoum Challenge R1 (G2), presented by Longines Gents Master Collection, over 1600m on dirt and won emphatically by Heavy Metal, a second winner on the card for Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Sports Council Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, who was present.

Saddled by Salem Bin Ghadayer and partnered by Mickael Barzalona, Heavy Metal was able to take full advantage of his low draw, stall two, going straight to the front and staying there en route to a nearly five-length victory over favourite and multiple Group 1 winner Thunder Snow with jockey Christophe Soumillon.

Heavy Metal had won on his seasonal reappearance three weeks prior over the same course and distance in the Listed Dubai Creek Mile. He was also victorious on three occasions at the 2017 carnival over the same track and trip.

“These conditions really suit him and he has done nothing but improve, especially over the last year,” Barzalona said. “He relishes this dirt surface and is showing on the track what he has displayed to us in his work at home in the mornings. He has always worked like a very good horse and has such a great, willing, attitude. He is easy to ride. We had a good draw and he broke well, so I was always going to go to the front and he enjoys those positive tactics. It has been a very good evening for the whole team and long may it continue throughout the year.” “He jumped out quite okay,” Soumillon said of the runner-up. “I was quite happy with my position. For the distance today, with that pace, it was probably a bit short for him, but he finished the race quite well. It’s encouraging for the future. He gave me a good effort in the straight and he’s a horse who needs to be 100% fit and wasn’t today. The big target is in the future in a few more weeks and we’re going to see much better next time.” Earlier, stable companion Frankyfourfingers, winner of the 2015 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 (G2), proved in a class of his own in the $135,000 Longines Conquest Classic, a handicap over the same 1900m dirt course and distance as that big race win. Having made an impressive winning reappearance at Jebel Ali two weeks ago, he was far too good for his eight rivals on this occasion, going straight to the front under Barzalona and never looking in any danger. “These conditions really suit him and he has done that very well,” Barzalona said. “He beat (subsequent Dubai World Cup winner) Prince Bishop when winning the second leg of the Maktoum Challenge, so his class is apparent. We were very disappointed when he was injured last year and missed most of the season, but he is back to something like his best now and these two wins will have done wonders for his confidence.”

Frankyfourfingers was not seen last year after the end of January when finishing second in a 1600m carnival dirt handicap won by Heavy Metal.

Godolphin dominates

Godolphin dominated the $175,000 Singspiel Stakes (G3), presented by Longines Ladies Master Collection, over 1800m on turf. Well-regarded Saeed Bin Suroor-trained favourite Benbatl asserted his class and bounded clear under Oisin Murphy, finishing with plenty left and defeating Charlie Appleby-trained banner-mate Emotionless and jockey James Doyle in a swift 1:46.99. The pair looked set for a real battle at the top of the straight before Murphy’s mount quickened well, putting the race to bed in a few strides. Classy 7-year-old Earnshaw rallied well for third. A third Godolphin horse, Appleby-trained Bay of Poets suffered through a crowded trip and rallied well for sixth under William Buick.

“Saeed gave me an open book as how to ride him and they are a very straightforward team to ride for,” Murphy said. Godolphin also supplied both first and second in the 1400m turf handicap, the $160,000 Longines Moon Phase Master Collection, with Buick weaving through on D’Bai to deny James Doyle on stable companion Bravo Zolo. Seemingly with nowhere to go with 300m to go, Buick was able to find a gap and his mount shot through, quickening impressively and breaking the track record in the process with a time of 1:22.32.

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