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14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Hunter's lights up MeydanHeadlines
Hunter's Light

Saeed bin Suroor's Hunter's Light showed a smart change of gear to claim round two of the Al Maktoum Challenge at Meydan under Silvestre de Sousa.

The Group Two attracted a top quality field, with former Andre Fabre inmate Saint Baudolino making his debut for Mahmood Al Zarooni. Await The Dawn was another fascinating participant, a former winner of the Hardwicke Stakes for Aidan O'Brien, but now trained by South African maestro Mike de Kock.

While that pair were held up, 7-2 shot Hunter's Light was never far off the pace in the extended nine-furlong contest and quickened up to go by Surfer in the straight and win decisively. Another Godolphin runner, Prince Bishop, picked up minor honours in third, with Saint Baudolino doing all his best work at the finish in fourth.

De Sousa said: "Saeed brought the horse here in great form and I'm pleased he came out and won. He gave me my first Group One winner in Europe (in Italy in November) and I was delighted to keep the ride. He seems to be getting better and better. He had a blow out there and should improve again."

Bin Suroor added: "He improved last year to win the Group One in Italy and with time he has improved physically. He has handled the Tapeta, he has shown class and he faced better horses tonight. Sheikh Mohammed will decide the plan."

The main supporting race was the UAE 1000 Guineas, with the finish dominated by Godolphin-owned runners. Al Zarooni's trial winner Music Chart was the leading fancy, but she could not pick up off a slow pace and had to make do with third behind stablemate Lovely Pass (7-1) Bin Suroor's Shuruq split the pair in second.

Winning jockey Ahmed Ajtebi said: "She's a nice filly and I rode her at Ascot last year when she won nicely. Today she battled well, she likes the surface and she was in the right race."

Newmarket handler David Simcock was among the winners as Harry Bentley guided 9-2 shot Ottoman Empire to an impressive victory in the GN Focus Handicap.

"He battled all the way and I knew a furlong out he would put the race to bed. He always travels into his races very well," said Bentley.

Elleval struck a blow for the Irish as he showed a brilliant turn of foot to claim the Meydan Classic Trial under Fergal Lynch. David Marnane's gelding was a 12-1 shot on his first start since winning at Dundalk in December and he scythed his way through the pack to get up and beat El Estruendoso.

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