THE Dubai winning tally kept ticking over with a double at Meydan on Thursday – SA-bred runners Star Empire and Royal Ridge winning for the stable, while Jardim and El Estruendoso found places.
Christophe Soumillon rode a well-timed finish on Mohammed Khaleel’s Star Empire to win the 2810m turf handicap (headline photo, yellow and red silks). Star Empire was among the backmarkers in the early part, and spotted by commentator Terry Spargo to be making good headway as they approached the home turn.
The contenders raced in compact fashion – Azheema, Certerach and Bob Le Beau edging ahead in the middle of the track with Royal Ridge unleashing a powerful run on the outside. They raced to the post in almost a straight line, but Soumillon coaxed extra from his mount to get up late.
“Star Empire is a great result for the whole team as he had been off almost two years before his comeback three weeks ago,” Mike said.
Star Empire, by Second Empire, was bred by Sydney Muller, Farrell Ratner and Len Salzman.
Royal Ridge prevailed in a grandstand finish. (Andrew Watkins).
Jockey Paul Hanagan was also seen at his best on Sheikh Hamdan’s Royal Ridge. He kept the son of Tiger Ridge going strongly in a driving finish to beat Producer by a head at the line.
Mike said: “It has been a decent night with two winners and we have always said Royal Ridge would like this surface.”
Royal Ridge is by Wilgerbosdrift stallion Tiger Ridge and was bred by Frank Sharp.
Emotif proved to be just in need of her comeback run – beaten only 2.75 lengths into fifth behind Lovely Pass after being slow off and racing wide.
“She was blowing heavily after the race. Watch her next time, she will be hard to beat,” Mike said.