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THE Gr 3 UAE 2000 Guineas at Meydan on Thursday produced a thrilling battle up the straight between Mike de Kock’s Mubtaahij and the Godolphin runner, Maftool.
It was Godolphin’s night with Maftool, ridden by Paul Hanagan, holding Pat Dobbs on Mubtaahij at bay to win by a head.
Having blown the start on his previous outing behind Mubtaahij, trainer Saeed bin Suroor reached for the visor on this occasion and Maftool broke sharply.
Maftool (left) held on from Mubtaahij, both game and impressive. (Andrew Watkins).
“The start was always a worry,’ said Hanagan. “The visor has certainly helped him today and won well. It is just that stall issue you have to think about but hopefully he still improving and learning. I am not sure we have seen the best of him yet.”
The UAE 2000 Guineas has produced asome serious performers over the years, perhaps headed by 2001 winner Street Cry, who went on to win the 2002 Dubai World Cup.
He was trained by Bin Suroor, as was Bachir, winner of the inaugural UAE 2000 Guineas in the year 2000 before going to Europe and winning the Guineas in both France and Ireland.
De Kock had won the race five times, including with subsequent UAE Derby winners Musir (2010), Honour Devil (2008) and the UAE’s only Triple Crown winner, Asiatic Boy (2007).
He also saddled Soft Falling Rain to win this in 2013 before becoming the first (only) three-year-old to win the Godolphin Mile.
Mike said about Mubtaahij: “He ran his heart out and while it’s disappointing not to have won the race, we were narrowly beaten by a top horse in Maftool and we know we have a very good horse ourselves in Mubtaahij. They drew almost 11 lengths clear of the third horse, the rest beaten out of sight.
“Mubtaahij has more improvement to come. He fought back, perhaps he’d have won in another few strides. We’ll prepare him now for the Al Bastakiya on 7 March and then for the UAE Derby on World Cup night. There are three weeks between these races, both are over 1900m, I think it will be perfect for him.”
Mike said that third-placed Ajwad will be alongside Mubtaahij for their next two starts. “Ajwad will go the same route. He was well beaten in third, but he likes to race up with the clip and couldn’t because he was slow into stride. We’ll see better from him in future.”