Meydan Masters jockey challenge in Dubai - Review
Meydan Masters © Neville Hopwood / Dubai Racing Club
The inaugural Meydan Masters jockey challenge staged at the new Meydan Racecourse in Dubai went to jockey Richard Hills following the final fourth leg race on Friday, March 5. The Newmarket-based Hills rallied after a seventh-place finish in the first race, coming back to win the overall event with points from a first place in the second leg aboard the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Sirocco Breeze, a second in the third leg and a third-place finish in the final race.
Winner of last year's Dubai World Cup Aaron Gryder landed the first leg of the Meydan Masters on Friday aboard Alazeyab in a close finish from Warsaw and Rileyskeepingfaith.
In the second leg, Godolphin's Sirocco Breeze, held up at the back of the field by jockey Richard Hills, smashed the competition with an explosive turn of foot in the straight.
Another victory went to Godolphin in the third leg under U.S.-based Kent Desormeaux when Once More Dubai cut down Salute Him and Firebet.
Frenchman Christophe Lemaire drove the Dhruba Selvaratnam-trained 5-year-old Kal Barg out to score from Emerald Wilderness in the fourth and final leg.
Hills, however, took home the spoils, with a total score of 116 points. Lemaire completed the event with 99 points and Desormeaux with 97.
Japanese rider Norihiro Yokoyama, who had the honor of participating along with 11 other top-level jockeys from around the world, wrapped up the challenge after riding his mount, the France-bred Calvados Blues, to a fifth-place finish in the event 2,000-meter fourth leg. It was his best result thus far, having placed eighth, seventh and eighth in the first three races, respectively.
Yokoyama is the current leading jockey in Japan with 35 wins thus far this year. He was winner of last year's Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) aboard Logi Universe.
The event, which Dubai Racing Club Chief Executive Officer Frank Gabriel Jr. hailed as "a very classy affair," spotlighted the talents of 12 top-level jockeys who have all been winners in major races around the world. Participating in addition to Yokoyama were Christophe Lemaire, Ted Durcan, Jamie Spencer, Corey Brown, Aaron Gryder, Ahmad Ajtebi, Lanfranco Dettori, Olivier Peslier, Ryan Moore, Richard Hills, and Kent Desormeaux.
Riders and runners were paired by draw and secured points according to their finishing positions in each of the four legs. Points were awarded as follows; first place - 75 points; 2nd-20; 3-15; 4th-10 and from 5th to 12th position, 8,7,6,5,4,3,2 and 1 point was allocated respectively. All races were run over the synthetic Tapeta all-weather track. Race distances were 1,200 meters, 1,400 meters, 2,200 meters and 2,000 meters, respectively.
In the words of Mohammad A. Nasser Al Khayat, commercial director of Meydan: "We are proud to be the proponents of acknowledging the immense talents of these leading international jockeys, all of whom are all champions in their own right."
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