Hunter's Light: landed round two of the Al Maktoum ChallengePICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)
Hunter's Light gives Godolphin more success
Report: UAE, Thursday
Meydan: Al Maktoum Challenge Round Two Sponsored By Tabloid (Group 2), 1m1½f, Tapeta, 3yo+
HUNTER'S LIGHT supplied Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor with his ninth victory in round two of the Al Maktoum Challenge and provided jockey Silvestre de Sousa with his first win in the 1m1f contest.
De Sousa was content to take his time on the winner before setting sail after local hope Surfer, who excelled facing by far his stiffest task to date having only lost his maiden tag on his penultimate start.
De Sousa's mount hit the front inside the final furlong to deny Surfer, to the delight of his jockey who said: "Hunter's Light is a real favourite of mine and gave me my first European Group 1 winner in Italy last time. He can be a real character and takes a bit of knowing but he had been working well on the surface and I thought he would be hard to beat. I have now won three from three on him."
Bin Suroor added: "That gives us plenty of options with him as he seems equally at home on Tapeta and turf and stays further so we will have to think where to go next."
Also on Thursday
Meydan: UAE 1,000 Guineas (Listed), 1m, Tapeta, fillies
Fellow Godolphin handler Mahmood Al Zarooni may have been absent but provided the winner of the season's first Classic, the UAE 1,000 Guineas with Ahmed Ajtebi and Lovely Pass leading a furlong out in the Listed contest to follow in the hoof prints of stable companion Gamilati.
Ajtebi said: "I won on this filly at Ascot and was very hopeful beforehand. I wanted to sit close to the pace as I knew she would run all the way to the line and that is just what she has done. The UAE Oaks would be a possibility."
The winner was chased home by the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Shurooq, reversing trial form with the third Music Chart, a stable companion of the winner and providing Godolphin a 1-2-3. Bin Suroor also supplied the fourth, Mar Mar, in the green colours of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum.
Rest of Meydan
The UK registered their second 2013 Carnival winner after Harry Bentley exuded confidence throughout on the David Simcock-trained Ottoman Empire in the 1m2f Tapeta handicap. The pair cruised to the front over a furlong out having stalked Modern History who tried to make all under Mickael Barzalona.
Simcock said: "We were keen to ride him prominently this time and Harry has given him a great ride."
Ireland then repeated the trick with an emotional David Marnane on hand to greet Fergal Lynch, who had produced Elleval to lead close home in the Meydan Classic Trial. Just over a week after his father died, it was a great tonic for the trainer.
Having been forced to weave through rivals in the 7f turf contest, Lynch joked: "I almost got there too soon! I was always going well enough it was just a case of finding the gaps. Luckily they appeared."
The 1m6f turf handicap provided a thrilling finish with Star Empire leading close home under Christophe Soumillon for Mike De Kock to deny Godolphin's Ahzeemah and Irish duo Certerach and Bob Le Beau with the four separated by less than a length.
The winner missed all of last season and his trainer explained: "He had a nasty pelvic injury and was off for virtually two years before his run three weeks ago. It is a good result for the whole team."