Rayya strikes decisively in UAE Oaks ahead of old rival Winter Lightning
The Group 3 UAE Oaks was the highlight of the ninth meeting of the Dubai World Cup Carnival and it was revenge time for Rayya, who managed to turn the tables on hot favourite Winter Lightning.
The Godolphin filly had beaten Rayya in the UAE 1,000 Guineas and trial for this race, but the 1-5 chance could manage only third of the six runners here.
Trained by Doug Watson, Rayya had the plum draw in one and was never headed under Pat Dobbs. Drawn widest of all, Winter Lightning was never able to get any cover under Pat Cosgrave, plugging on for third behind fellow Godolphin-owned Expressiy.
Dobbs said: “We knew the trip would suit and I wasn't going to waste that one draw. I was always going to be positive.
“She was a different filly tonight to the one beaten in the Guineas, when I was never happy. Tonight I knew on the back straight she was going to be hard to beat.”
Watson added: “I imagine we'll go for the UAE Derby and it's a relief she's bounced back. We don't what happened last time but she was worked up, whereas this evening she was perfectly relaxed.”
Zaman the man
Godolphin’s Zaman won the other contest for three-year-olds, the Listed Meydan Classic over a mile on turf. His task was made easier by the defection of Wasim, who had beaten him in the trial three weeks ago.
Zaman's strong finish in the trial suggested the extra furlong would suit him and, well drawn in stall three, he was always travelling nicely under William Buick, riding for Charlie Appleby,
When Buick pulled him out to challenge the response was immediate, and they sprinted clear to win comfortably.
Buick said: “He was perhaps a bit unlucky in the trial when we were forced to race wide and he finished strongly.
“He'd improved from that run and the extra furlong was always going to be in his favour. He could be pretty smart.”
Appleby and Buick completed an impressive turf double with the smooth victory of local debutant Rare Rhythm in the Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy.
He was settled well off the pace, as was multiple Group 1 and dual Dubai Gold Cup winner Vazirabad, who made smooth ground on the inside at the same time as Buick asked his mount to close.
Vazirabad perhaps hit the front momentarily but Rare Rhythm quickened in style over a furlong out and opened a gap Vazirabad never appeared likely to bridge.
Paddy Power made the pair their 2-1 joint-favourites for the Dubai Gold Cup later this month.
Buick said: “We have to be delighted with that and it should put him spot on for the Dubai Gold Cup in four weeks.
“We've always really liked him and that was only his eighth start, which isn't a lot for a six-year-old. He's improving all the time and I didn't want to give him a hard race with the big target still a month away.”
Appleby added: “We were pretty hopeful coming here tonight as he'd been working well and looked great.
“He was impressive as he idled in front and, after talking to Sheikh Mohammed, he'll go for the Dubai Gold Cup.”
Appleby capped a fine day by also winning the 1m2f handicap with Kidmenever, ridden by James Doyle.
The 1m2f Listed Curlin Handicap, named after the 2008 Dubai World Cup winner who won the equivalent handicap on this card before that victory, was won by Saltarin Dubai, who made virtually all under Richard Mullen for Satish Seemar.
In doing so he reversed form with Godolphin’s Don’t Give Up, who had beaten him into second on both their most recent outings but had to chase him home this time.
Members can read the latest exclusive interviews, news analysis and comment available from 6pm daily on racingpost.com