$6 million Dubai Turf (G1) sponsored by DP World
Almond Eye—The Japanese superstar stretched her legs over the turf course first thing this morning.
“We just wanted her to get acquainted with the track before we breeze her Wednesday,” trainer Sakae Kunieda said. “She has relaxed into her Dubai surroundings very well. The grass here is a bit long, but I think she will like it.”
Almond Eye will breeze Wednesday morning under regular rider Christophe Lemaire, who flew to Dubai early in order to ride the filly in her last major workout in preparation for the Dubai Turf sponsored by DP World (G1).
Deirdre—Deirdre cantered a lap and a half around the Meydan dirt track first thing this morning.
“Everything she has shown us lets us know she is very happy despite the long trip to Dubai,” said her work rider Yuta Komiyama. “I am glad that she is in really good form.”
The Harbinger mare will breeze Wednesday.
Dream Castle—Godolphin’s Dream Castle arrives for the 1800m turf feature on the back of three consecutive course and distance victories, most recently Super Saturday’s Group 1 Jebel Hatta.
His trainer, Saeed bin Suroor, won Saturday’s race with Benbatl last year, like Dream Castle victorious in both the Singspiel and Al Rashidiya, but only second in the Jebel Hatta.
“He worked very nicely on Saturday and has had a brilliant year already,” Bin Suroor said. “Obviously this is going to be a stronger race but he has risen to every challenge we have given him this year. Hopefully, he will be very competitive.”
I Can Fly—Trainer Aidan O’Brien reported I Can Fly arrived safely on Tuesday morning along with four stablemates.
“I Can Fly seems in good form,” O’Brien said. “She has come out of her prep win at Dundalk a few weeks ago quite well. It has been a while since she ran beyond a mile. We think she can run a good race.”
Lord Glitters—David O’Meara’s head lad Colin Bolger was aboard the grey as they turned out on Meydan’s turf course at 7:00 a.m.
“He got over on Thursday and I’m really pleased with how he travelled. He can be quite highly strung, but he has taken the journey over really well,” Bolger said. “We’ve been on the turf for the last two days and he might have a breeze on the grass on Thursday with Danny (Tudhope), who rides the horse on Saturday, in the saddle.”
Southern Legend—Ebullient trainer Caspar Fownes gave his challenger a tick of approval at Meydan on Tuesday morning, five days out from his gelding’s biggest test. Fownes has become something of a fixture at this meeting in recent years with Southern Legend to be the trainer’s 7th runner since his first foray in 2011. However, he has never had an acceptor in the Dubai Turf, with 2016 Dubai World Cup runner Gun Pit—last behind California Chrome—his only charge to tackle a race other than the two sprints before.
“It’s going to be a tough ask behind Almond Eye. I think the only view we might get of her is from behind,” he said trackside at Meydan on Tuesday morning. “But our boy is doing nicely, he looks as good as he ever does and he’s walking around with a bounce in his step. We’ve been here a few times before, but this is probably the best horse I’ve had here since Lucky Nine.”
Hong Kong’s champion jockey Zac Purton will ride at Meydan for just the second time when he is legged aboard Southern Legend.
Vivlos—Vivlos went for a spin on the dirt track early on this morning, hacking for one lap before cantering for another.
“She has been a bit stiff the past couple of days since arriving to Dubai, but today she felt really good and loose,” said assistant trainer and regular exercise rider Shinji Yasuda, “She has become relaxed and we were able to put in a good work today.”
She will breeze Wednesday in preparation for the race.
Without Parole – Royal Ascot winner Without Parole, whose seven-race roster puts him level with Almond Eye as the least experienced runners among the field for the Dubai Turf, has taken his first trip outside Europe in his stride, according to trainer John Gosden’s travelling head groom Tony Procter.
“He’s eating and drinking well, which are the best signs,” Procter said as he prepared to send his boss a video of the 4-year-old’s steady Tuesday canter around one circuit of the Meydan training track under regular work rider Maurizio Varju.
Without Parole arrived at the international quarantine barn on Saturday, and Procter added: “He’s done all his serious work at home, including a racecourse gallop at Chelmsford, which is what we always do when we come to Dubai. Run them off the plane is the usual schedule.”
Wootton—Having spent his 3-year-old career in the care of Alex Pantall in France, Wootton has since joined Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby and has had two starts at Meydan this year. After finishing fourth in the Zabeel Mile, the 4-year-old then took an honourable second behind Dream Castle in the Jebel Hatta (G1). Having raced at the Dubai World Cup Carnival twice, he has fitness on his side and enjoyed light exercise on the dirt track at Appleby’s Marmoom base this morning.
“He has some nice European form and we changed the style of his racing in that we stepped him up in trip to 1700m on his last outing, which was one of his career-best starts finishing second to Dream Castle,” Appleby said. “If he reproduces that form it will make him competitive, but what we like about the horse is that he gets into a nice rhythm in his races now so he is a simpler horse to ride compared to when he was a 3-year-old.”
Although beaten just over a length by Dream Castle on Super Saturday, Appleby is not fearful of the rematch.
“It is all about who turns up on the night,” Appleby added. “We went into Super Saturday on our A-Game and Dream Castle beat us, but he needs to turn up in the same form on World Cup night. If they both turn up in the same condition, then we have a length to find, but who knows what is going to happen.”
$6 million Longines Dubai Sheema Classic (G1)
Cheval Grand—Japan Cup winner of 2017 Cheval Grand was out on the dirt track first thing this morning, trotting down the back stretch, hacking around the far turn and ultimately cantering for half a lap under work rider Shohei Matsudate.
“He was nervous upon arrival to Dubai, but now he has relaxed into his Dubai routine,” Matsudate said. “After talking to the trainer, we’ll breeze him over the turf tomorrow.”
Desert Encounter—UAE-owned, Newmarket-trained Desert Encounter continued his preparation by stepping out of his regular working pattern on Tuesday. Already acclimatised, having arrived in Dubai to run on Super Saturday, the 7-year-old followed up the previous day’s routine, a single-circuit canter on the dirt track with a double dose of gentle exercise, interspersed with a short walk, at Meydan.
“We just wanted to mix things up a little,” Ian Russell, trainer David Simcock’s travelling head groom, explained as Desert Encounter, sporting his usual black hood, came off the track under regular work rider Katie Reed.
Desert Encounter reached a career-best official rating of 117 when closing 2018 with victory in the Canadian International at Woodbine. He reappeared when ridden by Saturday’s big-race jockey Jim Crowley for the first time to run an excellent third to Old Persian in the Dubai City of Gold.
“We couldn’t get out to Dubai earlier because of the equine influenza outbreak back home,” Russell said. “So to say he hadn’t run since the middle of October, we had to be very pleased with what he did at Meydan.
Hunting Horn and Magic Wand—Trainer Aidan O’Brien reported that all five of his horses running on Saturday night arrived in good form.
“They flew out on Monday from Shannon,” O’Brien said. “Reports are from Pat Keating (travelling head lad) that they arrived in the barn at 2 a.m. on Tuesday morning and that they all travelled well. The plan is they won’t be out for track work proper at Meydan until Thursday morning.
“Hunting Horn seems to have come out of his run in Qatar (when placed in the Listed Amir Trophy) very well. We think the nice ground and the big galloping track over 2400m might suit him.
“Magic Wand has been in good form since her run in the Pegasus Turf at the end of January. Back up to (2410m) will suit her although that’s probably as far as she wants to go. The better the ground, the better she will run.”
Old Persian—Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby is seeking to defend his crown in this race, following on from Hawkbill’s success 12 months ago. His Old Persian heads into race night in top order after the Royal Ascot winner landed the course and distance Dubai City of Gold (G2) on Super Saturday. The 4-year-old son of Dubawi did his final main piece of work at Appleby’s Marmoon base last Saturday and this morning had gentle jog around the dirt track there.
“His preparation has gone well and this has always been our aim,” Appleby said. “He had his trial on Super Saturday, which he did well to win, but he did what we expected and he looks as though he has come forward for it. He showed a good turn of foot on Super Saturday and showed class, really. He is a typical Dubawi and has done all the right things from three to four.”
Racing History—For Godolphin, Saeed bin Suroor saddles Racing History in the Longines Dubai Sheema Classic and has been pleasing his trainer, who said: “The (2410m) is ideal and he is in good form at home. He should run a big race in a strong renewal.”
Rey de Oro—Rey de Oro was out on the Meydan dirt track at 5:00 a.m. this morning, hacking to warm up before cantering for one lap, moving easily.
“I think he has been more settled than last year. He is in good shape. All has gone well so far,” said his work rider Daisuke Tsumagari this morning.
“Christophe Lemaire will gallop him tomorrow morning.”
Suave Richard—Suave Richard went out onto the Meydan turf course this morning, clocking his final breeze in preparation for the Dubai Sheema Classic. He went 800m in 55.6 at an easy gallop.
“For the first two days here, he seemed to be a little nervous and his appetite was not the same as normal, but after he cleared arrival quarantine and resumed his training on track, his appetite came back. Now he is back to being obsessed with his feed once again,” trainer Yasushi Shono said. “He has acquainted himself with the new surroundings and seems to be more relaxed.
“He worked over the turf two days ago to get familiarised with it, and today he breezed on turf. I advised the rider not to do too much but just enough to switch him on for the race. The draw will be important since the distance to the first turn is not that long. Jockey Joao Moreira will canter him on Friday.”
$2.5 million Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) sponsored by Gulf News
Drafted—Trained by Doug Watson for Misty Hollow Farm, he faces a steep challenge when he squares off against a talented 10-horse field. With plenty of speed signed on for the 1200m sprint, including last year’s runner-up X Y Jet, Watson said he is hopeful his in-form gelding, with three wins from his last four starts, can rally for a big slice.
“I think if he gets a clean trip, he’ll be closing,” Watson said. “Whether he’s good enough to close on this group, I don’t know, but he has a will to win. He really sticks his head out there. He never wins by much.”
A winner on debut on April 27, 2016 at Keeneland, the Florida-bred son of Field Commission has transitioned well to life in Dubai by winning five of nine starts at Meydan since making his local debut in December 2017.
Watson said home field advantage could be a decisive factor.
“He’s got the fastest time over the track this year and he hasn’t had to ship half way across the world so there’s a lot of positives. I think he’s good enough to be in this group,” Watson said.
Imperial Hint—Trainer Luis Carvajal Jr. has nicknamed Imperial Hint “Little Rocket” and it’s easy to see why when watching the diminutive bay rocket around the track the last two mornings. By design, Imperial Hint has galloped quietly around the track once and then picked up the pace down his final time down the back stretch.
“He goes nice and easy the first part and then when he switches leads, it’s like ‘OK. Hold on,’” the trainer said.
Matera Sky—Prior to his breeze Wednesday morning, Matera Sky cantered a lap and a half around the dirt track at 5:00 a.m.
“This is his second time in Dubai, so the trip wasn’t that big of a deal. He is in good shape for the race, but since he has been acting almost too relaxed, we gave a strong canter today to sharpen him up a bit,” trainer Hideyuki Mori said. “Yutaka Take will ride him in his breeze tomorrow and hopefully we will improve off last year’s results this weekend.”
Promises Fulfilled—The Dale Romans-trained colt went to the jogging track on Tuesday to stretch his legs one day after breezing three furlongs in :37 1/5 on Monday under Heather Smullen. Smullen, the former exercise rider for the Ralph Nicks-trained champion Caledonia Road, said the son of Shackleford came out of his work “very good” and was impressed with how he moved over the Meydan dirt track.
Promises Fulfilled will be making his seasonal bow when he starts in the Golden Shaheen. He most recently finished fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) and counts the H. Allen Jerkens Stakes (G1) among his four career graded stakes wins.
Roy H—Crackerjack American-based sprinters X Y Jet and Roy H, second and third respectively in last year’s edition of the Dubai Golden Shaheen sponsored by Gulf News, are primed to renew their rivalry in what promises to be an extremely competitive affair.
“This is an unbelievable race in the making,” said Peter Miller, Roy H’s conditioner. “I respect all the horses in the race. They’re all good horses. It’s a tough race, but I’ve got the two-time Breeders’ Cup champion and a two-time Eclipse Award champion. If he runs his race, they’re all running for second money. But again, it’s if he runs his race. He didn’t run his race last year. He’s got to run his race. Otherwise, it’s anyone’s game.”
In an interesting twist, both top-class horses share common ownership by Gary Hartunian’s Rockingham Ranch, although X Y Jet is co-owned by Gelfenstein Farm. Rockingham Ranch campaigns about 100 horses in America, with Miller training the west coast division and Jorge Navarro getting the east coast horses for his barn.
“It all works fine and we’re all okay with that,” Miller said.
Tuesday morning Roy H was out on the track first thing for his exercise under the lights and Miller, who hoped for an outside post position in Wednesday’s draw, said the plan for the rest of the week was to keep his stable star, along with his three other entrants on the card, happy and healthy right up until their races.
Tato Key—The sole Irish representative in the Dubai Golden Shaheen continued his preparation under regular work rider Khamruddin ‘Timmy’ Tameen. Trainer David Marnane watched his charge in the company of the owners’ representative, Michael Donohoe. Tato Key completed a normal canter of just over a lap of the Meydan dirt track.
“Tato Key is in good nick,” Marnane said. “Yesterday was the first day there was a good crew of people here with all the cameras and a lot more horses around whereas Tato Key had been used to going around here with four horses and the track to himself. He just got a little bit excited but he was much more himself today. That was a nice relaxed canter and I’m very happy with him.”
X Y Jet—Rockingham Ranch and Gelfenstein Farm’s X Y Jet will make his third appearance in the Dubai Golden Shaheen sponsored by Gulf News on Saturday night. The 7-year-old Kantharos gelding finished a desperate second on both occasions, losing by a neck to Muarrab in 2016 and by a short head to the late-closing Mind Your Biscuits a year ago. With Mind Your Biscuits now retired to stud duty, trainer Jorge Navarro said the prominent X Y Jet has to be considered among the leading contenders in this year’s renewal.
“He’s showed up here two times. What Mind Your Biscuits did here last year after stumbling out of the gate was out of this world. That was a super horse. Take him out of the race and now where do you put my horse? He has to be right there,” Navarro said.
X Y Jet was out on the Meydan dirt track just after 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday for light training followed by a successful gate schooling session.
“He’s doing great this morning,” Navarro said. “We just sent him out for an easy gallop. Anthony Cruz, an ex-jockey, is on him in the mornings and he’s been our go-to guy for Dubai for the last few years. He knows what I like.”
With a talented field bursting from the starting gate, including fellow American raiders Imperial Hint and Roy H, Navarro said that post position will be a key factor in the 1200m spectacle.
“I’d love to have something from the four to the seven, but if we get inside he’s fast enough,” Navarro said. “His second step is faster than his first step. He’s not the fastest out of the gate, but his second step is when he gathers up and takes off.”
$2.5 million UAE Derby (G2) sponsored by The Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group
Derma Louvre—Kentucky Derby hopeful and UAE Derby-entered Derma Louvre had his final breeze early Tuesday morning over the dirt track at Meydan. Ridden by his trainer, Hirofumi Toda, he went 800m in 57.0, with a last 200m clocked at 12.0.
“He has settled into the new surroundings well and is an imposing horse even though he is still just a 3-year-old. I worked him this morning and my impression was the dirt should suit him, because he was able to move easily over it without issue,” Toda said. “It was a bit dark first thing this morning and there were lots of media around the turns, but he was luckily able to focus on training. I won’t work him too much during the week as we prepped him well in Japan before arrival. We will just be maintaining his condition and stretching his legs.”
Divine Image—Godolphin’s filly will tackle the boys on Saturday night and the daughter of Scat Daddy heads into the UAE Derby after wins in the UAE Oaks (G3) and a stunning seven-and-a-quarter-length triumph in the Al Bastakiya (Listed). The 3-year-old is set for an outing on the grass at trainer Charlie Appleby’s Marmoom stables tomorrow morning to complete her preparations. On Tuesday, she had a light canter on the Marmoon dirt.
“She came through her last race with flying colours and she mentally looks as though she is improving with each outing,” Appleby said. “She has done nothing but please us since and I was delighted with her last start there against the colts. She has come out of that race very well and I am pleased we went back and ran here again. People might have questioned why we would run here back again before the Derby but after speaking to His Highness we all felt it was the right decision to allow the filly to gain more experience before the big occasion.”
Jahbath—William Haggas is keeping it fairly low-key with His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s colt, who has shown plenty of promise in winning four times in a row on artificial surfaces in the United Kingdom.
“He just had a quiet canter on the dirt and will do so again tomorrow,” Haggas said. “He will have a stretch on Thursday morning with (jockey) Jim Crowley on top.”
Manguzi—Local hope Manguzi was given an easy canter on the Meydan dirt under the watchful eye of Emirati trainer Ali Rashid Al Rayhi on Tuesday morning. The son of 2012 Dubai World Cup third-place Planteur is expected to breeze on Thursday before trotting on Friday. Manguzi will partnered by retained jockey Fernando Jara in Saturday’s race, where he will jump from the widest draw of 14.
“We think he’s at least doing as well as when he won the Al Bastakiya Trial,” Al Rayhi said. “Unfortunately he has a bad draw and it could be difficult if he doesn’t jump well as the rest of the field will be racing to the first turn, but he is in good form and we hope for the best.”
Razeena—Perennial leading trainer Doug Watson will saddle the promising maiden filly Razeena for owner Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi. Purchased for US $185,000 at the 2018 April Ocala Breeders’ Sale, the bay daughter of Malibu Moon is well regarded by her conditioner.
“I went to the Ocala breeze up and she caught the eye of both Conor Foley (Oracle Bloodstock) and myself. She passed the breeze test and on conformation she’s just a gorgeous filly,” Watson said.
After finishing a good second on debut, Razeena finished 11th in the UAE 1000 Guineas but returned to form with a strong third in the Group 3 UAE Oaks won by Divine Image over Swift Rose.
“Her first race she ran well, but a bit green, and finished second,” Watson said. “Next out, she missed it a step and she doesn’t have great gate speed. She has to get into her stride and she started getting that kick back and ran no race.
“She drew wide in the Oaks which was probably a blessing, but we’d done a lot more gate work in between, because we wanted to make sure we got it right,” Watson continued. “She broke well, travelled great. She traveled 19m farther than Divine Image and 25m farther than Swift Rose and finished third.
To me, she’s still learning and getting better.”
Following the UAE Derby, Razeena will ship to the care of trainer Kiaran McLaughlin in New York.
“She’s still growing. She’s still not fully mature, but I think she’s going to be a stakes filly in America,” Watson said.
Watson said he is hopeful of a big effort from the filly against the boys in her Meydan swansong.
“If she were to break sharp and get in behind them where she wasn’t getting that kick back right in her face, I think she’d run a big race. She’s done really well since the Oaks,” Watson said. “She stacks up with the boys in my mind, as far as ability goes. As she gets older, she’s only going to get better.”
Stubbins—After cantering on Monday morning, the Doug O’Neill trained Stubbins remained inside the quarantine barn in Dubai on Tuesday morning.
Leandro Mora, Doug O’Neill’s assistant, said: “I’m very happy with him. Even though we are in a foreign country, we do the American thing, so he only walked this morning, which is what we would do at home after a horse works.”
Van Beethoven – One year after winning the UAE Derby with Mendelssohn, trainer Aidan O’Brien will seek his second straight victory with Van Beethoven.
“Van Beethoven will come on for his run in the Patton Stakes at Dundalk earlier in the month,” O’Brien said. “Up in distance, we think this race will suit him.”
Walking Thunder – The big news from Ahmad bin Harmash’s desert stable on Tuesday was that Frankie Dettori has been booked to ride Walking Thunder, the highest-rated of three runners for the trainer in the UAE Derby sponsored by The Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group (G2), all owned by the Phoenix Ladies Syndicate.
Dettori has not tasted victory at the world’s richest single race day since landing a double in 2012, but he remains the meeting’s most successful and busiest rider, with 19 wins from 113 rides. Stable jockey Connor Beasley, the only rider to have been associated with the UAE Derby trio, has opted for Superior, leaving Oisin Murphy to be called up for Golden Jaguar.
Bin Harmash said: “The Emirates Racing Authority conditions book has enabled us to race all three at their best distances and to split them accordingly. It’s good for everyone to be able to find the right opportunity over a short season.”
$2 million Al Quoz Sprint (G1) sponsored by Azizi Developments
Belvoir Bay and Stormy Liberal—Trainer Peter Miller is firing a double shot and on Tuesday morning he was all smiles after jockey Paco Lopez breezed each 600m on the dirt track, with Stormy Liberal going out first thing under the lights and Belvoir Bay getting her turn later after 7:00 a.m.
“They went very easy and I’m very pleased. They all seem to be very happy here and that’s all we ask for and all we can hope for,” he said.
As for Wednesday’s draw of the race, the conditioner said, “I guess with all things being equal we’d prefer to be on the outside with all of them on the turf and the dirt. It seems like everyone wants to be on the near the side of the grandstand on the grass.”
Belvoir Bay, a 6-year-old mare, was previously based in Europe so is experienced on the straight but Stormy Liberal, who suffered a tough runner-up defeat in the 2018 edition of this race, has most of his racing and training around the turns. Miller doesn’t have any special instructions in mind for any of his riders.
“They’re all professionals and they do their homework. Obviously, the straightaway is a little different situation but overall it’s not that different than they’re used to. But the wire is where the wire is. Rosario has ridden here a lot in the past and he’s very familiar with it here, Paco is a great rider and Prat’s a great rider.”
Blue Point—Charlie Appleby’s flagship sprinter will bid to make amends for Dubai World Cup night 2018 when withdrawn at the start, and has enjoyed two bloodless wins in the lead up to Saturday.
The winner of the King’s Stand Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot last year has won both of his starts at the Dubai World Cup Carnival by a total of eight lengths. He is due to have a spin on the turf course at Appleby’s Marmoon stable tomorrow morning and today had a light canter on the dirt track.
“Visually he was very impressive on his first start this year over 1000m, and it wasn’t originally our plan to run last time over the 1200m but the horse was doing so well at home,” Appleby said. “I also questioned whether I did the right thing last year by waiting for World Cup night and him turning up so fresh and unfortunately acting up the way he did prerace and not being able to run. That’s why I popped the extra run into him and I was very pleased.”
Brave Smash—On Saturday, jockey Anthony Darmanin will be attempting to bring about an Al Quoz Sprint upset aboard the Peter Gelagotis-trained Illustrious Lad. However, on Tuesday morning, he was lending his services to the connections of one of his major rivals, partnering Brave Smash for handler Kris Lees in a sharp straight track gallop that left onlookers in awe.
“It was a good piece of work, we just wanted him to have a look around to familiarise himself with the environment,” said Maddie Raymond, Brave Smash’s travelling groom. “It was decided that we wanted a jockey to ride him in this morning’s gallop and Anthony has spent a lot of time in the same barn as us with Brave Smash. He’s a good jockey and he gave him a solid tune-up this morning.”
Raymond has been by Brave Smash’s side since his departure from Sydney on March 17, much as she has throughout most of his time in Australia. She says that the former Japanese galloper has quickly settled into his new surroundings.
“He’s really well, he’s eating up and just taking it all in his stride. I think he really relishes being in a new environment, it just switches him on and he really enjoys it.”
Hugh Bowman, the rider best known for his association with Australia’s champion mare Winx, will be aboard Brave Smash on Saturday.
Ekhtiyaar—Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Ekhtiyaar will need a career-best performance to topple rival Blue Point. Last time, the 5-year-old son of Bated Breath, trained by Doug Watson, finished a chasing second to Blue Point in the Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint (G3). The talented bay, one of five horses to be saddled by Watson on Saturday night’s lucrative Dubai World Cup card, trained impressively in his final serious piece of work on Sunday morning at Red Stables.
“I’m really pleased with him,” Watson said. “Of all the workers, he was the best in my mind. He just keeps getting better. We’re hopeful of a wider draw. He’s in good form and if he can draw in the middle it helps. He’s been stuck down inside his last two starts.”
Ekhitayaar was never better when taking the 1200m Landrover Discovery here on February 21.
“He surprised us when he won,” Watson said. “He won by the largest distance on the turf, since Meydan’s been open, over 1000m or 1200m.”
A victory of that margin is unlikely on Dubai World Cup night, but Watson said he is cautiously optimistic about Ekhtiyaar’s chances.
“If he can relax a bit and get a little cover, I’m confident in him. I’m curious to see how he runs. Whether he’s good enough to beat Blue Point, I’m not sure,” Watson said.
Lost Treasure—The Aidan O’Brien-trained Lost Treasure arrived Tuesday in good form.
“Lost Treasure goes to the race in nice shape,” O’Brien said. “He likes to come from off a strong pace on fast ground and his best run last year was in the Abbaye when he had those conditions and went close.”
Sands of Mali—Went out on the main track just after 5:00 a.m. and was ridden by apprentice jockey Sean Davis.
The Right Man—The Didier Guillemin trained The Right Man was a bit fresh on Tuesday morning. He came onto the dirt track at Meydan on his own and jogged before moving on in a steady canter in front of the stands. He looked a lot more relaxed as he returned to the quarantine barn.
Viddora—Honest mare Viddora will be looking to add international success to an already-abundant resume when her farewell tour stops in Dubai. Trainer Lloyd Kennewell made his first appearance at trackwork on Tuesday morning and was immediately taken by a slick turf gallop she recorded under the shadow of the mammoth Meydan grandstand.
“The way she worked this morning, I don’t think anyone would have missed it,” Kennewell said. “She hasn’t raced over a straight track in a number of years, that was before she became the Viddora that we’ve come to know and love now. We gave her a gallop over the Flemington straight 1200m before she left and then this morning down the straight and she really quickened late both times, so I’m confident that she will be suited on Saturday.”
“If you missed her, though, then you won’t miss her when she’s walking around the track. She’s got a booty like Beyonce, she floats around and poses for the cameras, she loves it. She knows she’s on the big stage and she has one of the best attitudes any horse can have, so honest and genuine.”
Kennewell confirmed that Viddora would retire at the end of the Australian racing season in July, but said that there were no plans beyond the Al Quoz Sprint.
“This is her final campaign, her final few months of racing before she heads off to stud,” Kennewell said. “I’m looking forward to her showing the world what she’s got. Hong Kong is off the agenda now, which is disappointing, but we’ll take it one race at a time and hopefully there’s a big race left in her.”
$1.5 million Godolphin Mile (G2) sponsored by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum City—District One
Coal Front—The son of Stay Thirsty was among the first horses to hit the Meydan dirt track, emerging shortly after 5:00 a.m. with Amelia Green in the irons. Coal Front galloped once around the surface, demonstrating his usual good energy during the morning hours.
“He’s a very, very cool horse to train,” trainer Todd Pletcher said of Coal Front. “He’s an impressive horse to watch train on a daily basis and you know it’s kind of fun for us with him being a son of (former Pletcher trainee) Stay Thirsty to have him do well. We’re really excited about him running (in Dubai).
Coal Front heads into the Godolphin Mile off a neck victory in the Razorback Handicap (G3) at Oaklawn Park on February 18. The 5-year-old has battled injuries throughout his eight-race career but has six victories to his credit, including four graded stakes triumphs.
“He’s trained impressively like he always does,” Pletcher said. “He’s a beautiful horse and we feel like the one-turn mile (1600m) should suit him perfectly especially backing up off a two-turn race. So we’re excited about him.”
Heavy Metal—Heavy Metal bids to become only the second back-to-back winner of the Godolphin Mile since the race’s inception in 1996. Godolphin’s Firebreak claimed the 1600m outing in 2003 and 2004 but since the race was moved to Meydan in 2010 there have been no repeat winners.
Heavy Metal is said to be in good form by his trainer, Salem Bin Ghadayer.
“He’s a nine-year-old horse now,” Bin Ghadayer said. “But we are very happy with him so far.”
Kimbear—Doug Watson’s runner had a hoof issue in last year’s race, where he finished sixth.
“He over reached as much as you could out of the gate,” trainer Watson said. “It took about three months to heal. I thought he ran unbelievable considering. I think Pat (Dobbs) thought he was going to win turning in, he was right there to go but I think he just started feeling that foot.”
The 5-year-old son of Temple City has yet to put his best foot forward through three starts in 2019 due to the recurring injury, with his best result a distant second in the Al Maktoum Challenge R1.
“He’s had a couple issues,” Watson said. “The foot grew back in a different way on the inside wall. In the first race, he came out well, but he came out of the first round of the Maktoum Challenge lame, with a quarter crack. We fixed that up and he’s coming around now. He’s good enough on the night to run a big race.”
Watson said Kimbear put in a strong breeze on Sunday at his Red Stables training centre.
“He went five-eighths(1000m) and galloped out in 1:09. He looks good,” Watson said.
Muntazah—After Group 3 wins by wide margins in his past two starts when triumphant in the Firebreak and Burj Nahaar respectively, trainer Doug Watson is already looking forward to next year with his Godolphin Mile hopeful Muntazah.
The only blemish on the gelding’s record in 2019 is a deceptively good third in the first round of the Al Maktoum Challenge.
“He’s from a brilliant family,” said Watson of the Dubawi-Rumoush gelding. “We wanted to stretch him out but he tied up after the Maktoum Challenge. So, we’ll get through this race and next year stretch him out and see if he can get the mile and a quarter (2000m).”
While the Dubai World Cup could be the vision for 2020, Watson remains hopeful Muntazah can maintain his current form on Saturday where the trainer will saddle two contenders in the Godolphin Mile.
“On paper, Muntazah stands out,” Watson said. “He’s in good shape, looks great and is very happy.”
Nonkomo Yume—Nonkono Yume went out on the Meydan dirt track this morning at 5:00 a.m. for his final breeze, this morning going 1200m in 1:16.0 with the last 200m clocked at 11.7. “He went a bit fast today, but the track seems to fit him very well; a good match for him,” said trainer Yukihiro Kato, “He is training better here than at Miho.”
The barrier draw for the Godolphin Mile was announced yesterday afternoon and Nonkono Yume received gate two.
“He doesn’t particularly like an outside draw, so I’m very glad we got an inside post for this race,” the trainer said.
Secret Ambition—Satish Seemar’s charge won the Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile on January 25 but ran a below-par sixth in the Group 3 Burj Nahaar Sponsored By Emirates Holidays on Super Saturday, March 9. He has been drawn 13 of the 13 runners in Saturday’s field and Seemar said: “The draw is not ideal but we don’t have the choice. He worked well yesterday in his final piece of strong work and will just hack around a bit before Saturday.
“He’s not very consistent in his performances, he sometimes doesn’t put it in – and last time was one of those occasions. We are running him in a visor on Saturday, hoping to get a bit more concentration out of him. But it’s a strong field and we are up against Muntazah again, as well as some very good horses from America.”
True Timber—Calumet Farm’s multiple graded-stakes-placed runner faces a tall task when trying to carve out his first career stakes win in Saturday’s Godolphin Mile. A veteran of 18 career starts for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, the 5-year-old son of Mineshaft boasts four career wins but has yet to break through at the top flight. Last year, True Timber blossomed with a record of 3-2-2 from seven starts highlighted by a closing second in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct Racetrack.
“He’s settled in really well. He had a great flight over and is full of energy and eating well,” said Neal McLaughlin, brother and assistant to Kiaran. “The first day or two we were in the quarantine, he was ready to get out and do something.”
True Timber took to the Meydan dirt track after 7:00 a.m. for a light gallop under exercise rider Robert Massey, who helped McLaughlin prepare their previous Dubai World Cup starters Frosted and Albertus Maximus.
“He did a gallop of about a mile and a half (2400m), just a slow canter,” McLaughlin said. “We’re happy with the draw (three) and I think it will suit us well,” McLaughlin said. “There’s some speed in the race, and I think we’ll be stalking from a good position.”
$1.5 million Dubai Gold Cup (G2) sponsored Al Tayer Motors
Call The Wind—The Freddy Head trained chestnut looked a picture as he cantered on the dirt track at Meydan on Tuesday morning. He was ridden by Sebastian Lagrange, who said: “We did just a steady canter over about 600m and then he worked over 1400m. The horse is great. I am very happy with him.”
Cross Counter—The winner of five of his eight racecourse starts, the best could yet to come for Cross Counter, who provided His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum with a first win in the Emirates Melbourne Cup (G1), last November.
The Charlie Appleby-trained 4-year-old progressed from his win at Ascot to break the track record at Goodwood, before storming home from the rear of the field to capture the Melbourne Cup over this 3200m.
Unlike all of Appleby’s other Dubai World Cup night runners, he has not had an outing this campaign and will be put on the Marmoom turf course tomorrow to complete his preparations for the weekend.
“He is a class animal and this is his first start of 2019 but he is an exciting horse for this year,” Appleby said. “Godolphin had been trying to win the Melbourne Cup for over twenty years so to do it with this horse was very special. He proved that day he stays the trip and I couldn’t be happier with him going into the weekend.”
Gold Mount—A quiet week awaits Gold Mount ahead of his first attempt beyond 2400m in the Dubai Gold Cup sponsored by Al Tayer Motors (G2), with Hong Kong trainer Richard Gibson – who also saddles up Al Quoz Sprint contender Wishful Thinker – set to arrive at Meydan on Wednesday morning.
“So far, so good,” Gibson reported from his Sha Tin base. “I land on Wednesday and just plan for an easy work week. On Thursday, I’ll give them both an easy gallop. Gold Mount has already had a full campaign in Hong Kong so he doesn’t need much work. I think the 3200m is perfect now.”
Ridden by Gibson’s Czech work rider Tomas Vraj, a former jockey, on Tuesday morning, Gold Mount completed an easy lap of Meydan’s dirt track in company with Wishful Thinker.
“He’s doing well, both horses are,” Vraj said as he rode Gold Mount back to the quarantine barns. “This horse is fit and he’s ready for Saturday. It is great to be here in Dubai.”
Ispolini—James Doyle was pencilled in for the ride on Ispolini, but having not been able to do the allotted weight, Brett Doyle has come in for the ride.
The son of Dubawi is an interesting contender having been lightly raced through his career and having won his last two starts at Meydan impressively. He was restricted to light exercise at Appleby’s Marmoom base today on the dirt track and will have a leg stretch on the grass tomorrow morning.
“I am very lucky to have William (Buick) and James at my dispersal,” Appleby said. “William is first jockey to the horses so therefore he got first choice and chose Cross Counter, not that there was any real second choice as the second choice was Ispolini. We found out yesterday that James couldn’t do the weight as they didn’t go up at all as there was a northern hemisphere horse in there so James has gone back to ride for me at Doncaster this Saturday and Brett Doyle has picked up the ride.
“Ispolini has been brilliant upped in trip twice this year and steps up again on Saturday. Horses like Cross Counter are proven over the trip but Ispolini is an interesting one as he has done nothing but improve for stepping up in trip, so a further increase in trip could potentially see more improvement. He is a horse who if he can find a bit more will be very interesting this year.”
Platinum Warrior—The John Sadler trainee, who was breezed on the turf Monday in a tune up for the longest race of his career, continued to impress his conditioner from halfway around the globe.
“He’s doing really well and he’s eating well. He shipped great and he’s bright. We’re very happy with him,” said Sadler when reached by phone in Southern California. “It’s impossible for me to get there. Due to scheduling changes here at Santa Anita, I’m now running five horses in stakes races here this coming weekend and I’ve got another four in stakes the following weekend.”
Regardless of where Platinum Warrior, who won the San Marcos Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita in his last start, finishes on Saturday night Sadler looks forward to getting him back in the barn thereafter.
“My understanding is that he’s scheduled to come back to America after the race. Hopefully, he’ll be in the Breeders’ Cup Turf here at Santa Anita. He’s a group winner in Europe and so far he’s shown himself to be a good horse,” said Sadler, who was confident in the care being given to the Platinum Warrior by assistant trainer Cesar Aguillar and exercise rider Javier Mesa.”
“Cesar was there with me when I won the Golden Shaheen 25 years ago (with Our New Recruit). The horse is in good hands. I’m waiting to see the draw but so far we’re having a good experience with him.
Prince Of Arran—Had a spin around the main track at 7.15 a.m. ridden by Natasha Eaton, the horse’s regular travelling companion.
“He’s feeling really great and thrives on this travelling. I’m really happy with him,” Eaton said. “We did a bit more of a canter today than yesterday.”
$1 million Dubai Kahayla Classic (G1) sponsored by Mubadala
Al Shamoos—The grey mare Al Shamoos has really settled in well at Meydan and appeared very relaxed on the dirt track on Tuesday morning. The first of the French raiders to show, she did a light canter.
Rider Nuno Duarte said: “We did a steady canter, maybe a tiny bit faster than yesterday. She feels really good, she is a nice mare.”
Al Zahir and Barnamaj—The two Ali Rashid Al Rayhi-trained runners in the Group 1 Purebred Arabian showpiece are expected to breeze on Thursday.
“They have both trained well,” said Al Rayhi on Tuesday morning. “We’ve kept everything the same for them in respect to their preparation for this race.”
Al Zahir, the two-length winner of the HH President’s Cup on the Abu Dhabi turf course in February, has not raced on dirt since his ninth-placed effort in the Al Maktoum Challenge at the start of the year. He has been drawn in gate 1 for the big day. Stable companion, Barnamaj, a recent 10th in the Group 1 Emirates Championship at Abu Dhabi, will jump from a wider draw in gate 11.
“We are very happy with Al Zahir,” Al Rayhi said. “Barnamaj had an injury which he’s coming back from, so he will breeze on Thursday and then we will see. They will then both trot on Friday.”