San Donato weaves through for smart Meydan success

By Sports Desk January 05, 2024

Pat Dobbs produced a masterful ride on San Donato to claim Group Two glory in the Zabeel Mile at Meydan.

Doug Watson’s eight-year-old was travelling sweetly at the back of the field entering the home straight and Dobbs held his nerve by staying inside.

When the gaps appeared, San Donato slipped through them with ease and the 3-1 chance quickened clear to oblige by a length and a half from Marbaan.

“When he’s on song, he’s very good – he carries you into the race very well,” declared Dobbs. “I knew going down he was on fire today, he went down keen, which is good to see him like that.

“He’s obviously one that needs gaps to open for him, but when he is on song, he can take those gaps so quickly, he’s just very professional and a very good horse. I was very impressed.”

San Donato was a Listed winner at Doncaster as a juvenile for Roger Varian but switched to Watson to be campaigned in Dubai and Abu Dhabi after a lengthy absence.

Tuz absolutely romped home by eight and a half lengths at 7-1 in the Group Three Dubawi Stakes over six furlongs for trainer Bhupat Seemar and jockey Tadhg O’Shea.

The seven-year-old started out from stall 13 but soon made his way to the front and then simply ran his rivals ragged.

“When he’s good, he’s very good,” said O’Shea. “He’s got a lot of speed and he’s an exciting sprinter – he’ll give his roommate Switzerland something to think about in the coming weeks.”

Legend Of Time was the highlight of a William Buick treble when overcoming a wide draw in the Jumeirah Guineas Trial over seven furlongs, with Charlie Appleby’s three-year-old keeping on strongly to see off Shamrock Glitter by a length.

“I was very happy with him,” said Buick of the 5-4 scorer. “We did expect him to win, but he wasn’t done any favours when he got drawn in stall 14. The pace wasn’t overly strong, but he jumped pretty well and covered the ground.

“He’s a horse who is going to want further in time, I liked the way he did it, he’s a very progressive horse. That’s only his third start tonight, so he will only improve and I think you’ll see him improve when he steps up to a mile as well.

“I wouldn’t want to set a cap on him just yet, I think there’s improvement left in him, so hopefully he’ll progress and he can go through the ranks.”

Appleby’s Local Dynasty, a Pontefract Listed-class winner who was sixth in the November Handicap last time out, quickened up well late on to land the Zabeel Turf over 10 furlongs at 11-8, prevailing by three and a quarter lengths.

“He was very straightforward,” commented Buick. “The pace wasn’t overly strong and it was just about getting him not to do too much in the early stages.

“He finished off real good; when you go through his form, he’s never really run a bad race, so it’s nice to get his head back in front.

“When he ran in the November Handicap at Newcastle, it probably just stretched him a little bit, so I would say this is his optimum trip, for sure.”

Walbank, last seen running down the field at Royal Ascot, made a successful debut for new trainer George Boughey when staying on strongly to land the 16-runner AZIZI Venice handicap as a 6-4 favourite.

Buick said: “He had a long time off but he’s been here a while and they were very happy with him. He travelled beautifully throughout the race and saw it out really well, so I thought it was a decent performance.”

The Michael Costa-trained Ma Yetal proved his wide-margin debut win at Jebel Ali was no fluke when following up in the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial on dirt.

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