While Godolphin was potent, per usual, the internationals struck well in other races, with Ireland, USA, Sweden, North Korea and UK all showing up in a big way in multiple races.
The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum City—District One-sponsored evening was topped by the Group 3 $300,000 Nad Al Sheba Trophy for turf marathoners looking to punch their ticket to the $1.5 million Dubai Gold Cup sponsored by Al Tayer Motors (G2) on Dubai World Cup night in 30 days.
Additionally, Dubai World Cup dreamers took part in the course and distance $175,000 Curlin Stakes (Listed Handicap), a race that has produced two winners of the big event.
NAD AL SHEBA TROPHY (GROUP 3)
$300,000 | 2810m (turf)
Winner: SECRET ADVISOR
Pedigree: Dubawi – Sub Rose (Galileo)
Trainer: Charlie Appleby
Jockey: William Buick
Official Time: 2:55.64
Track Record: 2:54.47 (Almoonqith, 2015)
Stakes Record: 2:54.47 (Almoonqith, 2015)
Margin of Victory: 1¼ Lengths
William Buick, Jockey, SECRET ADVISOR (1st)—"I am very pleased with the performance. We got a breather down the back, but I knew the leader was going to fall away. He travels well and stays really well. It's nice to get him back (into form) and all credit to the team. It's a real testament to everyone. A lot of care for the horse. A great team performance and very rewarding for everyone. I'm not sure what his future plans are, but he could be a horse who could do well in the summer, as well."
Charlie Appleby, Trainer, SECRET ADVISOR (1st)—"We were very pleased with his first start here. Before, when he was a 3-year-old, he won the Melrose and that's a good race to produce staying horses for the future. Unfortunately, he's been challenging for everybody and full credit to the team at this stage of his career. (Jockey) William (Buick) was delighted with that. He's travelled 'round and was the class in the race, really. He's picked up and he's stayed—he's ticked all the boxes. Whether we get a shot to run him on (Dubai) World Cup night, we'll see on racing, as he's still got a bit to find. If he doesn't get the opportunity to run World Cup night, then I'm sure we'll look down the staying route back in Europe and regroup here next winter."
Harry Bentley, Jockey, DUBAI FUTURE (2nd)—"I'm really happy with him and he obviously stays this mile-six no problem at all. I was very happy with the pitch I got throughout the race and he travelled nicely. As soon as we just quickened up around the bend, he picked up well for me. He's a horse who keeps finding and finding, rather than quickening up quickly. He's still relatively lightly raced and there's still more to come from him. He probably could get two miles if the right race came up. The eventual winner just pulled out that little extra at the end."
Kevin Stott, Jockey, DUBAI HORIZON (3rd)—"He runs consistently every week, to be fair, and runs quite a lot. They never drop him enough to go down in grade, which is not ideal. He ran well, so I can't fault him at all."
Dubai World Cup dreams were launched in the evening's $175,000 Curlin Stakes, a Listed Handicap won by Reddam Racing's Parsimony in facile style. Trained by Doug O'Neill, giving the American conditioner a second win of the 2020 DWC Carnival, the grey son of Dominus sat a perfect stalking trip under William Buick before launching past South Korea's tough stayer Today and propelling himself to 2¾-length victory, finishing up the 2000m in 2:05.05. It was another 5½ lengths back to highweight Ambassadorial, representing the UK, with local co-favourite George Villiers in fourth—giving fans a quad-nation top-four finish. The win was only Parsimony's second from 22 starts, but breaks a career stricken with 'seconditis' (seven runner-up finishes) and stamps him as one to watch moving forward.
"That was very pleasing," said Leandro Mora, assistant trainer. "It was a perfect ride from William. We said when we arrived that that this was the horse we hoped could be a Dubai World Cup night horse. He ran very well first time, but we knew he would improve from the run, so we came here today pretty hopeful.
The $100,000 Al Maktoum Challenge R3 (G1) for Purebred Arabians kicked off the night and was won with a clever front-running ride by Fernando Jara on Majed Al Jahoori-trained Bandar, who overcame his outside post 13 to make the running gate-to-wire under the Dubai World Cup-winning jockey. Second last out in Round 2—also a G1—of the series, the 7-year-old French-bred son of Munjiz won for the fourth time from 19 starts for owner Al Wathba Racing. Next will naturally be UAE's top Purebred Arabian affair, the Group 1 $ 1million Dubai Kahayla Classic sponsored by Mubadala over the same 2000m. The final time was 2:16.84, which was .36 quicker than AF Maher ran in the same race last year before he went on to pull the R3-Kahayla double.
"Drawn 13 was potentially a problem because this horse likes to be in front, buck luckily we were able to get to the lead and then cross to the rail," Jara said. "I was pretty confident thereafter and he quickened well before staying on strongly. You would have to be very pleased with that performance. Hopefully, he will go to the Kahayla Classic."
The second race of the evening was the top turf affair of the DWC Carnival for sophomores, the $175,000 Meydan Classic (Listed) over 1600m. Breaking alertly under William Buick, favoured Godolphin homebred Well of Wisdom made all under a skilled ride, giving trainer Charlie Appleby the win. The final time was a swift 1:35.87, despite a quite ordinary first two sectionals of 25.70 and 48.90. The final margin was a neck, as the winner went to the well to hold off Swedish filly Silent Night, as well as fellow Godolphin runners Light Blush and Colour Image, who were each less than a length away.
"We were pretty bullish beforehand and he has not let us down," Appleby said. "He has such a willing attitude and has really stuck his head down and battled. William was very pleased with him and particularly his willingness and determination to win again."
A thrill was had in the evening's third race, the $135,000 District One Residence Cup, which was won in lightning style by Star Safari, making only his fourth career start for trainer Charlie Appleby and owner Godolphin. Ridden by Mickael Barzalona, the son of Sea the Stars made up nearly half a dozen lengths in the final furlong to catch Franz Kafka and Richard Mullen in the final yards. A second victory for the British-bred 4-year-old, this was his first since being gelded.
"I was always travelling easily," Barzalona said. "I knew I had plenty of horse under me, so I was happy to take my time knowing, with a clear run, I would have a big chance in the straight."
HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum's Erwan Charpy-trained Moqarrar powered home to a second consecutive 1600m victory at Meydan and his third lifetime in the $135,000 District One Blueviews Stretch Handicap (90-105) over the dirt course. Under Fabrice Veron, the 5-year-old son of Exchange Rate stalked the frontrunners, sitting on the rail until rushing past Captain von Trapp to beat him by a half-length.
"The horse is in a very good frame-of-mind at the moment," Charpy said. "We were very hopeful because we had a good draw and knew at least two others would want to be positive and make the running, so we decided to be a bit more patient with him. Everything basically went to plan, which was great."
The seventh race of the evening featured the second division of the $135,000 District One Residence Handicap (91-108) over 2000m on the Meydan turf course. A total of 10 horses were loaded into the starting gate and the race was won by Mick Halford-trained Simsir, carrying the famous red and green of HH Aga Khan (and the Irish flag in the process), who won three consecutive editions of the Dubai Gold Cup sponsored by Al Tayer Motors (G2) with Vazirabad. It was Simsir's third start of the DWC Carnival and his growing professionalism was apparent, as he broke well, sat mid-pack and waited patiently until the top of the stretch under jockey Ronan Whelan for his cue. Finding a gap in the final furlong, he flew by Godolphin-owned Dubai Icon, winning by a half-length, finishing up in 2:00.06. The Irish-bred son of Zoffany won for the third time from six starts.
"He travelled so strongly all through the race, that I was always hopeful he would pick up and the gaps appeared when I needed them," Whelan said. "He is a big, raw horse, who is only going to improve. Hopefully he is an exciting horse for the future."
The evening was capped with a fourth victory by Godolphin and Charlie Appleby, as Mickael Barzalona produced Velorum with confidence, coming home 2¾ lengths the best at the wire but much the best in the minds of fans. The final time was 1:22.42 for the 1400m, with Shadwell colour-bearers Zainhom and Taamol finishing second and third.
"We were pretty confident that he was well-treated in this handicap and he did that in style," Appleby said. "Mickael was impressed with him and they have taken advantage of that nice, low weight. I assume we will go back to England with him, but we will see what the handicapper does before we make firm plans."