Inaugural Festive Friday Draws International Cast At Meydan

Isolate | DRC


Friday marks the first edition of the Festive Friday card at Meydan, featuring two group races, three listed races and AED4.5 million in prize-money across the nine-race stand.

Returning to the scene of his 2023 G2 Godolphin Mile victory is Isolate (Mark Valeski), who will step out in the AED1-million G2 Al Maktoum Mile for trainer Doug Watson. Tyler Gaffalione will fly in for the race from the States.

“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 (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}), 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 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.”

Royal Mews (Fr) (Siyouni {Fr}) is one of nine rivals signed on, and he will be ridden by Tadhg O'Shea.

“We're really looking forward to having Royal Mews back,” said Ryan Tongue, Racing Manager for owners Deva Racing of the three-time winner. “Isolate is the one to beat, but Tadhg O'Shea worked Royal Mews last week in blinkers for the first time and apparently he worked very well.”

Already in action this season is Road Bloc (Street Sense), who was third in a 1200-metre race at Sharjah on Nov. 26.

“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.”


Godolphin & Shadwell Out In Force In Al Rashidiya

Seven of the 11 entrants of the G2 Al Rashidiya will bear either the royal blue of Godolphin or the blue with white epaulettes of Shadwell. Charlie Appleby sends out Measured Time (GB) (Frankel {GB}), Ottoman Fleet (GB) (Sea The Stars {Ire}), and Highland Avenue (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}), and he is gunning for his fourth title in five years in the 1800-metre grass affair.

Not to be outdone, is fellow Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor, who is already a six-time winner of this race. His Real World (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}), a multiple group winner who was placed twice at Group 1 level last year, will break from stall seven.

G1 Jebel Hatta hero Alfareeq (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}) is one of three in the race for Shadwell, and holds pride of place, as he is the chosen mount of retained jockey Jim Crowley. The duo will leave from stall two.


Friday's Supporting Card High On Class

A trio of listed races anchor the supporting card, among them the AED500,000 Listed Ertijaal Dubai Dash over the minimum trip of 1000 metres on grass. The youthful Mischief Magic (Ire) (Exceed And Excel {Aus}), a winner of the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint in 2022, squares off with desert veterans Equilateral (GB) (Equiano {Fr}), and Miqyaas (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}). Johnny Murtagh sends the progressive 4-year-old filly Ladies Church (GB) (Churchill {Ire}) into the fray, as well. She ran second ot Miqyaas in the G2 Blue Point Sprint in February.

“Miqyaas is doing well,” said Abo Bakr El Hefnawy, assistant trainer to Rashed Bouresly. “He raced once on dirt to be ready for this race.”

This season's G1 Al Quoz Sprint winner Danyah (Ire) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}) makes his return on Friday in the 1400-metre Listed Business Bay Challenge on grass. His task is not the easiest, as among his 15 foes is GI Summer S. victor Mysterious Night (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}) for Godolphin and Charlie Appleby.

Rounding out the listed races is the Entisar S., conducted over 1900m on dirt. Bhupat Seemar saddles a pair of horses, including Western Symphony (Ire) (Shamardal) and Walk Of Stars (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}).

“Godolphin thought Walk Of Stars was good enough to run in the Epsom Derby as a 3-year-old so he is a very exciting horse to have,” said Seemar. “We're going to experiment with Western Symphony and try him over the 1900m. His pedigree suggests he has a chance of getting in, albeit he is a Shamardal, because there is a lot of stamina on the dam side.”

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