Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere winner Royal Marine was a bitter disappointment on dirt as he trailed home well behind impressive winner Walking Thunder in the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial at Meydan.
Saeed bin Suroor was hoping Royal Marine could emulate Thunder Snow, who made a seamless switch to dirt and went on to win the Dubai World Cup, but the Raven’s Pass colt never looked like taking a hand in the finish, coming home a 16-length fourth.
Walking Thunder was defending an unbeaten record in the mile and never looked in any danger of losing it for jockey Connor Beasley and trainer Ahmad bin Harmash
Despite a wide draw, the winner was able to sit just behind the pace before striking for home a long way out, pulling further and further clear, eventually beating Manguzi by nine lengths.
“I wasn’t planning to run in this. We’d planned to go straight to the Guineas, but he was so fresh in his stable so we brought him for more experience to settle him down,” said Bin Harmash.
“The gate didn’t worry us, he jumps fast, and you can put him anywhere in a race.
“He looks the most exciting horse I’ve had to date. We’ll go for the Guineas and then decide about the Derby.”
For Beasley the victory cemented what he will be hoping is a fruitful partnership with the trainer.
“From a wide draw I thought I’d just let him jump and he did it really well,” said Beasley.
“He travelled really well and when I asked him off the bend, the race was over in two strides. I haven’t ridden many good horses, but he certainly feels like a good horse.”
The trainer and jockey added a second winner to their tally later on the card as New Trails won the extended nine-furlong handicap on the dirt.
Satish Seemar’s North America blitzed his rivals from the front in the first round of the Al Maktoum challenge.
Not sighted since finishing last in last year’s World Cup, North America benefited from a fine pace-setting ride from Richard Mullen to see off Kimbear in comfortable style.
Mullen said: “Not many horses have given me goose bumps, but he did there. That was unbelievable first time out and I wish he’d broken like that on World Cup night!
“He’s got such a huge stride if anything tries to go with him, he kills them off. I thought he’d win, but not like that.”
Jamie Osborne was on the mark with the ex-Mark Johnston-trained Dream Today in the six-furlong handicap.
Having looked promising in his early days for Johnston, he had gone off the boil but was bought for 90,000 guineas by the enthusiastic Melbourne 10 partnership and got off the mark at the first time of asking for new connections with Chris Hayes on board.
He went a long way to repaying his purchase price with over £80,000 to the winner.
Osborne said: “I’m a little shocked but delighted – I can’t believe he’s won.
“We came here with three horses to try to win a race, so the pressure is off now.
“Mark was helpful when I bought him, it’s very hard to get a horse to be competitive here. He’s just won his price back so we’ve got a free run from here.
“Last year we were second to Godolphin in the all-weather owners’ championship and this year we decided to focus on quality rather than quantity, and that’s a great start.
“I watched the race in my lucky spot, where I watched Toast Of New York win the UAE Derby.”
Charlie Appleby got off the mark at the Carnival with Good Fortune in the Dubai Trophy under James Doyle.
“The most natural progression will be to head for the Meydan Classic before probably putting him away and heading back to Europe,” said Appleby.