Asian Racing Federation countries enjoy success at the Dubai World Cup meeting at Meydan, UAE

Asian Racing Federation countries enjoyed significant success at the Dubai World Cup meeting at Meydan on Saturday with Japanese runners winning two races, the Dubai Turf and UAE Derby, and placing in two, the sole Australian representative winning the Al Quoz Sprint.

The UAE had a superb evening with a first up victory in the Kahayla Classic for Arabian-breds, followed by Doug Watson’s remarkable trifecta in the Godolphin Mile and culminating with victory in the Golden Shaheen.

The Group 1 Kahayla Classic for Arabians commenced the Meydan programme and Af Mathmoon (AE) gave his owner HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum his eighth winner of the Classic fighting all the way to the line.

The five-year-old Af Mathmoon, a son of Af Albahar and Temptayshuhn, was bred locally by Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, who said after the race that the win showed that he and fellow local breeders can breed Group 1 Purebred Arabian horses to compete at the highest level.

Champion trainer Doug Watson has had a tremendous career in the United Arab Emirates but the veteran horseman had yet to win a race on Dubai World Cup night.

However, on Saturday not only did the American from Ohio win the Godolphin Mile, but he swept the race by finishing first, second and third with his three runners.

First-place finisher One Man Band (IRE) is owned by H.E. Sheikh Saeed Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum and third-place finisher Faulkner (GB) is owned by H.E. Sheikh Ahmed Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum. The runner up, Cool Cowboy (USA) is owned by Zaur Sekrekov.

Photo by Liesl King - ONE MAN BAND (IRE)

Further success for the UAE came when His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Muarrab (GB) battled with American raider X Y Jet (USA) down much of the Meydan stretch in a duel for the ages in the Dubai Golden Shaheen, the Second Leg of the Global Sprint Challenge.

Both horses gave their all and ran winning races, with the final margin of victory a neck. Finishing three and three-quarter lengths further back in third was Morawij (GB), with 2013 Dubai Golden Shaheen winner Reynaldothewizard (USA) fourth.

Japan’s team of 10 racing at the meeting won two jewels from the meetings nine race programme.

The day’s first victory for Japan was also the country’s first win of the race, the UAE Derby, a Grade 2 race over 1,900 meters of dirt.

The American-bred, Tapit-sired colt Lani (USA), trained by former jockey Mikio Matsunaga, topped the three-year-old event by a 3/4 length to become the first successful challenger from Japan from among the 10 horses before him on seven different occasions who had gone home empty-handed. Polar River finished in second and Japan’s Yu Change in third place.

Japan’s top-level victory was claimed by Real Steel (JPN) in the Dubai Turf. Partnered with Ryan Moore, Real Steel raced without cover until late in the race. With a burst of speed, the bay son of Deep Impact stepped easily into the lead from 200 meters out and ran on well to the finish, beating Euro Charline by half a length. The Godolphin-owned Irish-bred Tryster finished third.

Photo by Liesl King - REAL STEEL (JPN)

Real Steel’s win was the third for Japan in the Dubai Turf, a race that has had a number of distance changes, but is currently run over 1,800 meters. Twelver other runners from Japan made bids in the Dubai Turf in previous years. Admire Moon won in 2007 and Just a Way in 2014.

The Dubai Sheema Classic featured three Japanese horses among the field of nine. The Nobuyuki Hori-trained Duramente (JPN), who was recognized as Best Three-Year-Old Colt for 2015 for his wins in the classics Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) and Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby), finished the best of the three, with a second-place finish 2 lengths behind winner Postponed.

Following Duramente by a length and a half was Last Impact (JPN), a six-year-old son of Deep Impact and runner-up in last year’s Japan Cup. One and Only, a five-year-old by Heart’s Cry fielded by Shinsuke Hashiguchi, ran fifth.

The day’s main event, the Grade 1 2,000-meter Dubai World Cup, saw a single entrant from Japan, the World Cup veteran Hokko Tarumae (JPN).

The seven-year-old son of King Kamehameha was making his third bid in a row in the World Cup. This year, he was unable to better his previous best, a fifth place scored last year, and was ridden by Hideaki Miyuki to a ninth-place finish some nine lengths off the winner California Chrome (USA).

The Robert Heathcote trained eight-year-old gelding Buffering (AUS) might have been the first Australian horse to take part at the Dubai World Cup meeting since 2012, but he ran out a decisive winner of the Al Quoz Sprint.

Photo by Liesl King - BUFFERING (AUS)

Three-quarters of a length separated Buffering, under Queensland based jockey Damien Browne, from local favourite Ertijaal (IRE) and Peniaphobia (IRE), the Hong Kong Sprint champion. The time was a fast 56.34 seconds, fractionally outside the race record in a strong form race.

Photo by Liesl King - BUFFERING (AUS)

Buffering is the second Australian winner of the Al Quoz Sprint since Ortensia landed the race four years ago.

Buffering will now travel to Hong Kong for the Group 1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize on May 1st, the Fourth Leg of the Global Sprint Challenge and after that he may go forward to the Fifth Leg, the King’s Stand Stakes at the Royal Ascot meeting on June 14th.