Decorated Knight grabs Group 1 glory in a desperate finish
He did not get the Super Saturday double he would have been hoping for, but Andrea Atzeni still had a Group 1 strike to celebrate at Meydan, the Roger Charlton-trained Decorated Knight staying on strongly to pip Folkswood in a finish of necks to the Jebel Hatta.
Having earlier experienced a troubled passage on Postponed, Atzeni drove out the five-year-old, running here in preference to last Saturday’s Winter Derby, to win for the first time at the highest level. Folkswood finished a neck in front of third Muffri’Ha, with Sanshaawes the same distance back in fourth.
Atzeni said: “We could have done with a faster gallop to aim at, but he has a good turn of foot and picked up nicely.
“He improved last season and has continued to do so. This was the logical race as the Winter Derby is a Group 3 and he has already won at that level. He’s now a winner at the top table and should have a good chance in the Dubai Turf.
Dubai Turf (March 25)
Sky Bet: 11-4 Zarak, 3 Ribchester, 5 Real Steel, 6 Mutakayyef, 8 Decorated Knight, 12 Championship
Super Saturday was certainly that for owner Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, trainer Salem bin Ghadayer and jockey Mickael Barzalona, as they celebrated a memorable double led by Long River, who was never headed in the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge, the third and final round of the series.
Last year’s winner Special Fighter tracked him throughout but, unraced since a fourth in last year’s World Cup, seemed to tire in the final furlong, and 25-1 chance Long River prevailed by a length and a quarter. The $10 million Dubai World Cup looks the destination for the winner, as it could be for the runner-up.
Barzalona said: “It was a first local victory and over this trip for Long River, but stamina was never really an issue as I was able to set steady fractions. Basically, if he was going to stay the trip this was the ideal scenario, and he galloped all the way to the line.
“The trainer will decide whether he goes for the World Cup but I imagine that will be the plan.”
Earlier Barzalona was able to dominate from the front on stablemate Heavy Metal in the Group 3 Burj Nahaar over a mile.
Barzalona said: “This horse just loves this dirt surface and was always happy out in front. He doesn’t have to lead but wants to be out of the kickback. Hopefully he’s a genuine Godolphin Mile contender.”
Cosmo Charlie and Pat Dobbs made all in the Listed Al Bastakiya, the horse clearly appreciating being out of the kickback.
Impressive when winning on debut and then a good second to Fly At Dawn, he was a well-beaten sixth in the UAE 2,000 Guineas, having missed the break.
Winning trainer, Doug Watson, said: “He’s a young horse and learned a lot last time, when he didn't face the kickback. The plan was always to be positive and Pat gave him a great ride.”
Favourite Fawree dislodged Bernard Fayd’Herbe as the gates opened.
Chris Hayes emplyed identical tactics in the 6f Group 3 Mahab Al Shimaal aboard the Dhruba Selvaratnam-trained Morawij.
Victorious in the 5f Listed Jebel Ali Sprint on his previous start, the extra furlong was not an issue.
Hayes said: “Jebel Ali is a very stiff five, so six here suits him. He was third, from an awful draw, in the Golden Shaheen last year. Granted a good gate in three weeks, he will be very competitive.”
The Nad Al Sheba Sprint Trophy, a 6f conditions race on turf, was won by Godolphin’s Jungle Cat, who beat stable companion Baccarat.
In the process the Charlie Appleby-trained pair earned a crack at the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint later this month.