UAE 2000 GUINEAS (Group 3)
Meydan, Dirt, 1600m, 12 February 2015
Thursday's $250,000 UAE 2000 Guineas (G3) at Meydan sets up as an exciting re-match between the top three of the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial, Mubtaahij, Ajwad and Maftool, this time going a furlong shorter than 15 January.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa's silkbearers Mubtaahij (Dubawi), a Kentucky Derby entry and Triple Crown nominee, and Ajwad (Not For Sale) finished one-two on that occasion for South African master-trainer Mike de Kock, with the former nursing a cozy rail-stalking trip and running out an impressive five-length winner.
Mubtaahij, a €450,000 Arqana August purchase in 2013, took his record to a perfect two-for- two over the Meydan dirt, having broken his maiden over this trip 31 December after previously finishing fifth and seventh in a pair of tries over the Newmarket turf in the fall.
Ajwad sprung from the gate in the trial and set the pace before being overtaken by his stablemate, but he could be forgiven for displaying a bit of rustiness, having been off since finishing sixth in a Group 2 at San Isidro in his native country 6 April . As the lone Southern Hemisphere-bred in the lineup, however, he has to contend with the disadvantage of a 10-pound weight penalty.
Followers of Mike de Kock’s stable will be keen to know why stable jockey Christophe Soumillon will not be switching mounts, as he was aboard Ajwad when Dane O’Neill partnered Mubtaahij in the Guineas Trial.
Mike commented on Wednesday: “Christophe has difficulty with making the weight allocated to Mubtaahij but that said, he has decided to stick with Ajwad as he has made good improvement since the Guineas Trial. He has improved several lengths.”
With O’Neill suspended, jockey Pat Dobbs has secured the ride on Mubtaahij and he will be keen to make this chance a winning feature ride. Mike said: “Mubtaahij himself has come on well since winning the Guineas Trial. Both runners are very well at the moment and while you have to respect Christophe’s choice, the formbook shows that Ajwad won’t find it easy to turn the tables, it’s an interesting race!”
Godolphin's Maftool (Hard Spun) brought up the trifecta in the Guineas Trial. The dark bay displayed talent in his early exploits in Britain, breaking his maiden at second asking and running second to Burnt Sugar (Lope De Vega) in the G3 Sirenia Stakes before winning Newmarket's G3 Tattersall Stakes by 2 1/2 lengths. Maftool rounded out his European campaign with a fifth, beaten six lengths, in the G1 Dewhurst Stakes. He broke last in the Guineas Trial and made up considerable ground before tiring in midstretch.
"He was a Group 3 winner in England last year," said trainer Saeed bin Suroor. "He ran well in the Trial having messed up the start. He has been good in the stalls at home since and we have put the visor on. He is fit, well, and we think has a big chance."
Extracts from Thoroughbred Daily News and Mike de Kock Racing
The Guardian,HKJC,Meydan (p)