WALKING THUNDER READY TO RUMBLE
DRC Press Release
Walking Thunder – Photo Erika Rasmussen
One of the top 3-year-olds of the 2019 UAE season will end his sophomore year in an interesting spot when Phoenix Ladies Syndicate’s Ahmad bin Harmash-trained Walking Thunder (pictured) rolls into Thursday’s $72,000 Garhoud Sprint (Listed) against older horses. One of two of his generation in the octet assembled, the son of Violence will break from post five under in-form jockey Connor Beasley. While giving up noteworthy seasoning, he also must dip down to 1200m (about six furlongs) for the first time in his five-race, three-win career.
“He’s doing very well at the moment and I think this race will be to his liking,” Bin Harmash said. “He’s a very fast horse, even though he hasn’t raced over 1200m. Don’t forget—he was running very well at seven furlongs last year and we tried to go more distance than a mile with him because of the UAE Derby, but I’m not sure he likes more than a mile.”
The emblazoned bay won his first three starts by a combined 18¾ lengths over Meydan’s dirt oval, including a nine-length thrashing of subsequent Al Bastakiya (Listed) winner Manguzi and Group 1 winner Royal Marine in the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial (Listed). He finished his 2018-19 UAE season with a second to Godolphin blueblood Estihdaaf in the UAE 2000 Guineas (G3) before finishing seventh in Plus Que Parfait’s $2.5 million UAE Derby (G2), in which Manguzi was third. His victories were over 1400m (in his maiden romp) and 1600m, twice.
“This will be a good start for him,” Bin Harmash continued. “He’s been training well and—like most of these horses—he will need the run. If he runs very well, he’ll go on to the (Group 2 $350,000 Al) Maktoum Challenge Round 1 (on Jan. 9).”
Bin Harmash also harped upon Hamdan Sultan Ali Alsabousi’s New Trails (pictured), who makes his first start since a 10th in the $12 million Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates Airline (G1) in the $72,000 The Entisar (Listed) over the same 2000m. One of the logical choices in the seven-horse field, the five-time-winning son of Medaglia d’Oro is pointing toward another stab at Dubai’s centrepiece affair.
“He’s doing great,” he said. “On the big day, he got a big cut in his hoof. Since then, he’s come back very well and is training well. I’m hoping for a good run.”
The multiple Group-winning conditioner concluded with a brief note on promising juvenile filly Majhoola, who takes on the boys in the first major juvenile race of the season, the $65,000 Jebel Ali Port over 1600m. A sizable daughter of Trappe Shot out of a Bellamy Road mare, she exits a good second to UAE’s current top-rated 2-year-old, filly Rio Angie (rated 88), over 1400m in her lone start. She steps up (200m) and breaks from post four in the nine-horse conditions heat and major prep for the rich Dubai World Cup Carnival program for sophomores.
“She’s a big filly we think she’ll like the distance,” he said. “We decided to run in this race because we think she could be an (UAE) Oaks filly. We’ll try this. It’s not too strong of a field and we think it’s a good spot. She also gets two kilos, so it’s a good spot before all the Godolphin juveniles come.”
Drafted Rerouted to Dubawi
When entries were drawn on Monday for Thursday’s highly anticipated $72,000 Garhoud Sprint (Listed), one name was noticeably absent in Misty Hollow Farm’s Doug Watson-trained Drafted (pictured). The grey 5-year-old was likely to go heavily favoured in the 1200m dash, which he won in impressively gritty style last year before winning a pair of Group 3 affairs during the Dubai World Cup Carnival.
“He got a small quarter crack,” Watson said. “It’s not a big problem. The race is just too soon at this point. There are bigger and better goals ahead. We will point to the (Group 3 $200,000) Dubawi (on Jan. 2) if all goes well.”
The Dubawi is the lone pre-Dubai World Cup Day blacktype dirt sprint at Meydan that the gelded son of Field Commission has not annexed. After a late-running second in the 2019 edition to Raven’s Corner, he went on to win the Al Shindagha Sprint (G3) and Super Saturday’s Mahab Al Shimaal (G3). All races were over 1200m.
The goal this season remains a return to the $2.5 million Dubai Golden Shaheen in which he was a late-running fifth in March, beaten a diminishing 4¼ lengths by X Y Jet.
Gronkowski Leads Bin Ghadayer Brigade
Trainer Salem bin Ghadayer is entering the first big card of the UAE season on Thursday with proverbial guns blazing and the biggest piece of his arsenal appears to be Phoenix Thoroughbreds and Khalid bin Mishref’s $12 million Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates Airline (G1) runner-up Gronkowski (pictured) who makes his first start since losing said race by a nose to two-time champ Thunder Snow. The 120-rated four-time winner from 12 starts is more famous for his placings than victories, including a second to Triple Crown winner Justify in the 2018 Belmont Stakes (G1), but will try to go one better in Saturday’s $72,000 The Entisar (Listed) over 2000m.
“He’s doing well and his training is going just right,” Bin Ghadayer said. “He’s going the right way and, at the end of the day, this is going to be a prep race for him. I’m happy with him. I would say he is about 80-85% ready and he’s fit for this kind of race. I am not scared about the distance off the (layoff). This is a first race for him. He’ll be in form.
“He’s a sound horse and the only thing I can say is that he can be a bit naughty at the starting gate,” Bin Ghadayer continued. “Hopefully he does well with that. To be honest, with how he trains, he shows speed and I won’t worry about him going the (1800m) of the Saudi Cup or 2000m of (The Entisar). Going back to his history, he’s a stayer, but he shows enough speed (to be forwardly placed). We will see how it goes Thursday.”
Bin Ghadayer will have two in the seven-horse race, with Phoenix Ladies Syndicate’s Talento Puma supplying the lion’s share of intrigue. Previously owned by Don Yayo, the Argentine-bred 4-year-old colt owns a mere three starts and has never raced beyond 1600m, but was absolutely dominant in his last two tries in November 2018, winning by a total of 20 lengths. The final time in his last race, 1:21.53 for 1400m, is especially eye-catching, but the grandson of Belmont Stakes winner Editor’s Note must overcome a 375-day layoff and jump up 600m in trip.
“He’s a new horse and we have just had him since this summer,” Bin Ghadayer explained. “He’s had three starts in Argentina and he won going seven furlongs, but how he shows at home that he could be a nine- or 10-furlong horse. We need to see one race to confirm how he will be and how far (he wants to run). For me, he’s not a seven-furlong horse. We’ll see, because Thursday is a different test. We’ll need the race and right now he’s rated 99 and I’d like to improve his rating.”
Another of note for Bin Ghadayer on the stellar seven-race card is HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum’s Group-proven Inverleigh. The 2-for-7 son of Excelebration made his UAE bow with an uninspiring ninth at Jebel Ali on Nov. 15, showing speed early before fading. He has proven back-class, including a second in Irish Group 3 company and clashing with Group 1 winner So Perfect earlier this season. To compete with merit in Thursday’s $72,000 Garhoud Sprint (Listed) over 1200m, the Listed winner over 1100m must prove his ability over the dirt.
“Inverleigh must prove his form and it’s a tough race, but I hope he goes well,” Bin Ghadayer concluded. “He is training very well, so I hope everything goes the right way Thursday. He had very good form on turf in Ireland and Jebel Ali was just a prep. He’s a keen horse, but he has ability—but he must show it.”