01/28/2010 12:00AM

Gloria de Campeao captures Maktoum Challenge


Gloria de Campeao rallied along the rail to win Round 1 of the $200,000 Maktoum Challenge on Meydan Racecourse's opening night Thursday in Dubai, catching the favored Midshipman, who weakened to finish fourth in the Group 3 mile on Meydan's new Tapeta surface.

A distant runner-up to Well Armed in last year's Dubai World Cup at Nad Al Sheba, the Pascal Bary-trained Gloria de Campeao held off the late rush of Forgotten Voice to prevail by a half-length with Consul General third. Midshipman, running for the first time since fading to third in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, was beaten a total of 5 1/2 lengths in fourth. The time for the mile was a tepid 1:38.48. The defending title-holder My Indy weakened to finish last of 14.

A 6-year-old Brazilian-bred, Gloria de Campeao was running for the first time since coming home seventh in the Arlington Million. Ridden by Brazilian jockey Tiago Pereira and owned by Brazilian-based Swede Stefan Friborg, he will be aimed at either Round 2 of the Maktoum Challenge at 1 3/16 miles on Feb. 18, or the 1 1/4-mile Round 3 on March 4.

Mike de Kock and his newly retained rider in Dubai, Christophe Soumillon, jumped off to a fast start with victories in the first two Thoroughbred races on the card. They teamed to produce Raihana in the UAE 1000 Guineas Trial. An Australian-bred daughter of Elusive Quality, Raihana cruised to a 3 1/4-length victory over the Saudi Arabian-bred Waasemah in the $50,000 allowance, clocking 1:26.63 for seven furlongs. A heavy assignment of 136 pounds proved too much for Brazilian Group 1 winner Talenta, who finished fourth, nine lengths behind Raihana, who carried 129. A

2 1/4-length maiden winner at Clairwood in South Africa for de Kock in July, Raihana will return in the one-mile UAE 1000 Guineas on Feb. 11.

De Kock and Soumillon proceeded to win the next race, a 1 3/16-mile handicap, with Lizard's Desire. Lizard's Desire covered the distance in a sluggish 2:02.35. Later, a six-furlong handicap went in 1:13.56, while a good 1 1/4-mile handicap won by Godolphin's Whispering Gallery, a 4-year-old son of Daylami and two-time British Group 2 winner Echoes in Eternity, went in 2:06.05.

The times weren't the only slow things on Meydan's opening night. The eight-race card crawled along with 45-minute intervals between each race, taking five hours, five minutes to complete, an unconscionable amount of time given that no one in the glittering first night crowd had to spend any time at the nonexistent betting windows.