contested in the shine of the sun, was officially highlighted by a pair of handicaps—one over 1200m on turf named the Emirates NBD Personal Banking and the other over 1600m on dirt titled the Emirates NBD Wholesale Banking. Each produced impressive performances that could have Dubai World Cup Carnival implications.
In the former, apprentice Sean Kirrane continued his good weekend with a smooth success aboard Speedy Move for Satish Seemar and owners Sean Ewing and Touch Gold Racing. Fresh from an Al Ain double the previous night, the first of his career, Kirrane was always prominent on Speedy Move, leading the nearside group, with Hyde Park the overall leader on the far side. Passing the 200m pole, Hyde Park suddenly found challengers on all sides, with Speedy Move gaining the overall initiative and running on strongly to win in style. An 8-year-old Iffraaj gelding, it was a sixth career victory, third in the UAE and first locally on turf, having twice won on grass in England.
"Yesterday was great at Al Ain to ride a double and to follow up here today with my first winner at Meydan is just brilliant," Kirrane said. "I have to thank Mr Seemar and his team for the opportunity. I was always pretty happy today and had the runners on the other side in sight, so everything went perfectly when he quickened to the front before running on strongly to win well."
A 1600m dirt handicap produced a thrilling finish with Trenchard, who appeared the likely winner when hitting the front 200m out, being caught in the final strides by Erwan Charpy-trained Moqarrar and Dane O'Neill, riding for his main employer HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The 5-year-old gelded son of Exchange Rate has settled well off what looked a frantic early gallop before making smooth progress throughout the duration of the straight, pouncing on Trenchard in the closing stages. It was a third career win and second locally after a course and distance handicap in January 2019.
"We were excited by him after his first win for us last year and he had three runs at the Carnival, but has dropped down the ratings again," Charpy said. "He does not know how to run a bad race and has been generally consistent this season when we have kept him quite busy. Obviously, we will have to see what the handicapper does before making any firm plans, but it is great to see him win again."
The opening 1400m dirt maiden, the Emirates NBD Personal Banking, went to Fawzi Nass and Adrie de Vries, the latter producing Lacienegaboulevard to lead in the final furlong to deny Enchanting Man, who made a brave effort to make every post a winning one under Tadhg O'Shea. For the son of Shanghai Bobby, it was a maiden success at the fifth attempt, all at Meydan.
De Vries said: "He is a nice horse who has shown some good form in the past, so we were quite hopeful coming here because the yard have started to fire and the horses are running well."
That comment was further emphasised in the following Emirates NBD Business Banking, a 1600m turf maiden restricted to 3-year-olds and almost a carbon copy victory with Al Mukhtar Star. The main difference this time was that De Vries left his challenge to even later, as the pair led in the final strides to deny Varsha. As in the previous race, De Vries was happy to take his time throughout the first half of the race before switching to the outside in the stretch and delivering his telling challenge. A 3-year-old Lemon Drop Kid colt, owned by Al-Afoo Racing Stable, this was just his third career start and first on dirt after two appearances over 1600m on the dirt surface here at Meydan.
"That has been a great start to the afternoon and they are both nice horses who we thought had good chances," Nass said. "Adrie has ridden both perfectly and we would like to think there is more to come from them both."
The Emirates NBD Personal Banking, a 2000m dirt handicap, was contested by the maximum allowed field of 16, but was dominated from the outset by the enigmatic Gundogdu, sent straight to the head of affairs by Xavier Ziani and never headed. Supposedly poorly drawn in 14, Ziani did well to get across to lead and bag the inside rail before letting his mount bowl along in front and committing for home leaving the home turn after which the race, as a contest, was basically over. A 5-year-old gelded son of Bernardini, trained by Salem bin Ghadayer for Hamad Rashed bin Ghedayer, it was a fourth career victory and second 2000m success.
"That is how he likes to race and today, after two lesser runs, he was back to the level of form he showed when we won here in November," Ziani said. "He is hard to get past when out in front enjoying himself, as he was this afternoon."
The finale, the Emirates NBD Asset Management, a handicap over 1800m on turf, was won in determined style by Satish Seemar-trained Dolmen, who has proven a versatile type for jockey Richard Mullen this season. The son of Dawn Approach won a 2000m handicap on dirt two starts ago in December and returned to finish second on turf at Meydan last out over 2410m before today's victory.