Dubai Carnival beads: Tryster begins new love affair with turf
We all knew that Tryster was in love with synthetic. He’s unbeaten from six starts on the stuff, with a jet propulsion-style late kick on display in last year’s Winter Derby (G3) and Easter Classic. But was the Godolphin runner quite as enamored of the turf? After all, his three career losses have come on the grass. Sure, he won on turf once, but that was a mere short-field maiden at Brighton!
Tryster gave a comprehensive rejoinder in last Thursday’s Dubai Millennium (G3), so definitive as to render any more questions superfluous. Yes, the Shamardal gelding is equally effective on turf too.
Lolling at the rear behind slow early fractions – “You could almost beat them on a bicycle,” in Meydan announcer Terry Spargo’s apt phrase – Tryster inhaled them all in the stretch. He won doing handstands, or as the Australians might say, on his ear. As his rivals were flat to the boards, Tryster was surging past under a hand ride for the most part, other than a flick of the whip to keep him on task.
And it wasn’t just the visual impression at the end of the about 1 1/4-mile test. The clock, or more precisely Trakus, spells it out: a final 600 meters (about three furlongs) in :33.199. The penultimate furlong – between the mile and nine-furlong point – was :10.73. By the way, Tryster also had the widest trip, covering 9 meters (almost 30 feet) more than the pacesetter and runner-up Haafaguinea.
Thus trainer Charlie Appleby was rewarded for his wise decision to forego a Dubai World Cup (G1) bid, thanks to Tryster’s unhappy training on the dirt, and give him another opportunity on the turf. Aside from the obvious spots remaining for him here – the March 5 Jebel Hatta (G1) on Super Saturday and the Dubai Turf (G1) on World Cup night – Tryster now enters calculations for the turf highlights of the British summer.
If there’s one caveat, it’s the fact that a sit-and-sprint like the Dubai Millennium played right into Tryster’s hands, particularly against a field of Carnival types. Although both Appleby and jockey William Buick said that he’d prefer a fast pace set-up, Tryster is usually going to outsprint his foes if it turns into a mad dash for home. A more searching gallop may take some sting out of his late kick against Group 1 rivals on turf, and a lackadaisical start can leave him with too much to do if the field gets strung out.
But for now, the most significant takeaway is that defending champion Solow will face a showdown in the Dubai Turf. While we didn’t get the match-up we really wanted (Solow vs. Maurice), Tryster may make things interesting.
Faulkner flatters Frosted: Talented but fragile Faulkner, pummeled into third by Frosted in the Maktoum Challenge Round 2 (G2) February 4, bounced back with a gutsy decision in a handicap over the same about 1 3/16-mile distance. Conceding 11 pounds to the 11-year-old front runner Tiz Now Tiz Then, Faulkner prevailed after a prolonged stretch duel in which neither gave an inch. In the process, he continued trainer Doug Watson’s hot hand on the dirt.
All things being equal, a typical Carnival handicap on dirt wouldn’t be viewed as a boost to Frosted, but I’d contend that this one qualifies on two counts. The first is the final time: Faulkner finished in 1:56.72, just off Frosted’s track record of 1:56.62. This illustrates that Faulkner is no mug, but Frosted took him out of his comfort zone and ripped him apart. Competing against a different grade of rival will do that.
The second is the gap back to the rest of the field. The top two pulled 7 3/4 lengths clear of third, Godolphin’s all-weather specialist Let’s Go, who ran marginally better in his second dirt try (with the help of a first-time visor). The same couldn’t be said of another Godolphin synthetic type, Cat O’Mountain, who was just about as miserable again in 11th.
Even more miserable was the South African-raced Ertijaal, an epic disappointment on a surface I thought he’d not only handle but enjoy. Although the Mike de Kock pupil appeared to be traveling OK in a good stalking spot, he waved the white flag when push came to shove turning for home, and took his sweet time coming home 12th. As if to say, “I don’t care that I’m by Hard Spun; I hate this,” Ertijaal vetoed the switch to dirt.
De Kock had always been straightforward about this being an experiment.
“This was a test for Ertijaal and he didn’t act on dirt. Simple as that,” the trainer said on his website. “We’ll go back to the turf in the Jebel Hatta and you will see a different result.”
Faulkner, however, won’t be in action on Super Saturday. Watson indicated that we may see him next in the March 26 Godolphin Mile (G2).
Maftool’s makeover: Having fallen off since his productive 2015 Carnival, when edging Mubtaahij in the UAE 2000 Guineas (G3), Maftool subsequently left the Godolphin fold, joined Musabah al Muhairi, and was gelded. Whether he responded to those various changes, or was simply happy to get back over a dirt mile for the first time since the Guineas, Maftool regained the winning thread in his comeback.
Also by Hard Spun (sorry for rubbing it in, Ertijaal), Maftool left the gate in leisurely fashion but soon secured a decent midpack spot behind the contentious pace. He saved every scrap of ground from his rail post, got a seam in the stretch as the leaders began to tire, and speared through by a half-length.
Off this evidence, Maftool would be a logical contender in the Godolphin Mile. The form looks rock solid.
Runner-up Cool Cowboy, a handicap winner in his latest and previously second to Reynaldothewizard in the Dubawi S., was positively heroic in his first try over a metric mile. Hung out wide throughout from post 11 and lugging the top weight of 132 pounds, he chased the pace and held on best of those in the front rank. With a better post and back at levels, Cool Cowboy can be seen to even better effect. Still, a mile is the upper end of his range, and his punch could be a bit stronger back in a sprint. Let’s see what Watson does next.
Zayat Stables’ veteran Prayer for Relief was a neck away in a belated third, virtually replicating his finish in the January 7 Maktoum Challenge Round 1 (G2) at this trip. The de Kock charge was coming off a fifth to Frosted – him again – going longer.
Halling’s legacy to “Carry” on: Godolphin had cause for celebration in the nightcap, not only because they swept the superfecta, but because the top four are all 4-year-olds who should be around for a while. The victorious Carry on Deryck could have the best long-term potential of the lot.
As a son of recently deceased Darley sire and past Godolphin star Halling, Carry on Deryck is bound to improve with maturity and more ground than this turf mile afforded. Indeed, the new recruit was supposed to make his debut for bin Suroor in the about 10-furlong Singspiel, but a fever forced him to scratch from that January 14 event. Thus Carry on Deryck had to resume from an eight-month layoff against Godolphin comrades who’d all had the benefit of a recent race, and at a trip that likely suited them better.
It made no difference. Despite the fact that stablemate and last-out winner Udododontu pounced first with a furlong to go, in what the vast majority of the time would have been a perfectly timed move, Carry on Deryck simply rolled from further back and nabbed him. He clocked 1:36.14, not far off Safety Check’s course record of 1:35.53. The Appleby pair of Secret Brief (the winner of a couple of lucrative Tattersalls Millions races at two) and Flash Fire (who’s been chasing de Kock’s Forries Waltz and Anaerobio of late) rounded out the foursome.
Carry on Deryck was gaining revenge for his last meeting with Udododontu, when they were fourth and second, respectively, in Royal Ascot’s Britannia Handicap (they’re in the group on the far side). Udododontu was receiving 11 pounds from “Deryck” that day. Both were then snapped up by Godolphin and pointed to the Carnival.
As a footnote, Moohaarib continues to run well below form for trainer Marco Botti, who expected better than this. But before consigning him to oblivion, remember that Moohaarib was third in last year’s Lincoln to Gabrial and Mondialiste. With the benefit of a sunny winter holiday in Dubai, Moohaarib could turn up at Doncaster again come April 2 and outperform his odds.
Arise, Sir Max: With budding turf sprint star Ertijaal (the other one) moving out of handicaps and up in the world, this about five-furlong handicap had an open look in his absence. Sir Maximilian moved forward off his recent sixth to Ertijaal, and benefited from an ideal trip on the stands’ side, to win well. An upset winner of the Meydan Sprint (G3) at this course and distance last March, he was beaten a little more than four lengths when sixth in the Al Quoz Sprint (G1).
Jockey Pat Dobbs, who’s only just teamed up with him this Carnival, is convinced that he’s Group 1 caliber with the right kind of ride. Trained by Worcestershire-based Ian Williams, the 7-year-old wouldn’t have to find that much more to be an exotics player at healthy odds in the Al Quoz.
Toscanini turned in a useful fifth as the 132-pound highweight in his comeback, despite tacking across the course in a diagonal maneuver of questionable efficacy. I’m tempted to quip something about the Pythagorean theorem, because that surely looked like a hypotenuse to me. Toscanini has hitherto shaped as more of a six or seven-furlong sort, but he was a decent fourth to Sole Power over five at the Curragh last September. Might the 4-year-old son of Shamardal and Tuzla be turning over a new leaf?
On tap: Thursday’s card is highlighted by California Chrome, Marking, and the Zabeel Mile (G2).
Tryster photo courtesy Dubai Racing Club/Andrew Watkins.