Isolate to make seasonal debut in the G2 Al Maktoum Mile at ‘Festive Friday’ - GulfToday

Isolate to make seasonal debut in the G2 Al Maktoum Mile at ‘Festive Friday’


Isolate, who breaks from post six, will be reunited with his Godolphin Mile rider Tyler Gaffalione.

Gulf Today, Sports Reporter

History beckons Meydan Racecourse this weekend when international runners grace the track earlier than ever before in its 13-year history.

Horses from the UK, Bahrain, Czech Republic and Ireland will compete against a wealth of local talent at the first ‘Festive Friday’ meeting, where more than Dhs4.5 million in prize money is up for grabs across nine races.

Among the headline acts on the Emaar-sponsored card is G2 Godolphin Mile winner Isolate, who make his seasonal debut in the G2 Al Maktoum Mile, worth Dhs1 million.

“That was a great day and he’s moving better this year than he did last year,” said trainer Doug Watson, who also runs Golden Goal, winner of this race in 2022.

“They do a nice job out at Sheikh Rashid Bin Humaid, owner’s farm and he had a good summer off and came back looking a million dollars.

“We’ve worked with him a few times over at Meydan — he loves going over there. There might be Saudi [Cup meeting] plans but we’ll see how he runs here first.”

Isolate, who breaks from post six, will be reunited with his Godolphin Mile rider Tyler Gaffalione, who flies in from the US to take the ride. They face ten rivals, including 2021 Godolphin Mile winner Secret Ambition and his stablemate Royal Mews, the pick of stable jockey Tadhg O’Shea.

One who arrives fit is Road Bloc, having his second start of the season after finishing third in strong 1200metre sprint at Sharjah.

“He needed his first run and he’s working very well at home,” said owner Sayed Hashish. “The draw is not ideal but we believe he will appreciate the distance.”

Isolate is not the only Dubai World Cup night winner to reappear, as G1 Al Quoz Sprint hero Danyah is back for the first time since his shock win in March.

Trained by Musabbeh Al Mheiri for Shadwell, the six-year-old has to concede weight to his 16 rivals but does return to arguably his best distance of 1400metres in the Listed Business Bay Challenge. He faces a full field of 15 rivals, including Mysterious Night, a G1 winner in Canada for Charlie Appleby, and Vafortino, for UK-based Belgian trainer Kevin Philippart de Foy.

Appleby has something of a stranglehold on the G2 Al Rashidiya, over 1800metres on turf, having won it in three of the past four years. The Godolphin trainer runs the three-year-old filly Measured Time, as well as Ottoman Fleet, third in this race last season, and Highland Avenue.

Saeed Bin Suroor has won this race six times and he runs 2022 G2 Zabeel Mile winner Real World, a good fourth in the Bahrain Trophy last time out, while Shadwell also have a strong team. Theirs is headed by dual G1 Jebel Hatta winner Alfareeq, the mount of retained rider Jim Crowley, while Listed National Day Cup winner Laneqash will be ridden by O’Shea for trainer Bhupat Seemar.

Seemar also has a strong team for the Listed Entisar Stakes, over 1900metres on dirt. First string looks to be Western Symphony, a good winner last time over a mile, while Walk Of Stars makes his debut for the trainer.

Perhaps the most exciting race on the card is the 1200metre Listed Ertijaal Dubai Dash, on turf, which has attracted three international runners in a quality field of 12.

One of them is the Johnny Murtagh-trained Ladies Church, second to the reopposing Miqyaas here in the G2 Blue Point Sprint in February, a race in which Czech Republic runner Ponntos finished tenth.

A revelation last season when winning twice here on turf, Miqyaas warmed up for this race in the Listed Garhoud Sprint, finishing tenth.

Another behind Miqyaas in the Blue Point Sprint was Equilateral, who finished eighth. However, the Charlie Hills-trained gelding usually gives a good account at Meydan and is aiming for his fourth course success.

A new name to the training ranks is Lucia Botti, who will draw on many years of Dubai experience with husband Marco when Onigiri runs in her name in the Storm Coaster [Presented by Emaar] 3yo fillies’ Conditions event. Her eight rivals include impressive course debut winner Lahfaty for Trainers' Championship leader Michael Costa. Botti, therefore, knows it won’t be easy.

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