The excitement is palpable and the stars are aligning in Dubai. With prize money boosted by 12% to a total of US$12,670,000, the eagerly awaited 2019 Dubai World Cup Carnival (#DWCCarnival) gets underway at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday evening with a six-race card worth a total of $995,000. The headlining races of the evening are the $200,000 Singspiel Stakes (G3) and the $200,000 Dubawi Stakes (G3). Race 1 post time will be 6:30 p.m. local time (9:30 a.m. New York, 2:30 p.m. London, 10:30 p.m. Hong Kong), with the Dubawi (8:15 p.m.) and Singspiel (8:50 p.m.) slated for Race 4 and Race 5. Overall, eight countries will be represented on opening night. Seventeen countries are represented among the accepted invitees for the entire Dubai World Cup Carnival, which runs for nine consecutive Thursdays—Jan. 3 through Feb. 28—and is capped by Super Saturday, Mar. 9.
SINGSPIEL STAKES (Group 3, $200,000)
Won last year by subsequent triple Group 1 winner Benbatl, the Singspiel Stakes presented by Longines V H P Collection (G3) has attracted a maximum field of 16 and serves as a 1800m turf course and distance prep for the $6 million Dubai Turf sponsored by DP World (G1) on Dubai World Cup night—one of Benbatl’s aforementioned trio of top-level wins.
On official ratings, with a mark of 115, Deauville is the class in the race on his debut for Fawzi Nass and owners Victorious. Previously trained by Aidan O’Brien, his four career victories are highlighted by success in the 2016 Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes (G1) and he has placed in some of the top grass fixtures in the world, including the Arlington Million (G1), Irish Champion (G1) and Queen Anne Stakes (G1). The 6-year-old son of Galileo will be ridden by Luke Morris.
Nass said: “He is an exciting acquisition and we are delighted to have him. He is going to benefit for the run, but we hope he is going to have a good Carnival.”
Saeed bin Suroor saddles three for Godolphin, with Christophe Soumillon aboard Dream Castle, thus appearing the strongest of the triad. A 5-year-old Frankel gelding, he has not won since his debut at Doncaster in April 2017. Fifth in the classic 2000 Guineas (G1) at Newmarket in 2017, he was also campaigned at the 2018 Dubai World Cup Carnival, running four times and highlighted by a third in the Al Fahidi Fort (G2) won by subsequent Al Quoz Sprint sponsored by Azizi Developments (G1) winner Jungle Cat. Bin Suroor, seeking a fourth win in the race since its 2011 inauguration, also saddles Team Talk, the mount of Benbatl’s pilot Pat Cosgrave, as well as Racing History, who has the assistance of Kevin Stott.
“All three are very well and in good form at home, but will certainly improve for the run,” Bin Suroor said. “Dream Castle is a horse we have always really liked, but has disappointed us at times. He has had a nice break and we are hopeful of a big run. Racing History is a really nice horse, but we have only been able to run him once in each of the last two years. He has been showing up nicely at home, as has Team Talk, who worked well the other day.”
Degas Ships in from Germany
Multiple Group 3 winner Degas hails from Germany and is a first UAE runner for trainer. Fabrice Veron rides the late-running chestnut, who may be at the mercy of the pace scenario, but enters off an excellent runner-up effort in the Premio Vittorio di Capua (G2) in Italy on Oct. 21.
No horse has won the Singspiel Stakes twice, but Light the Lights has the chance to remedy the longtime partnership of Mike de Kock and Sheikh Mohd bin Khalifa Al Maktoum. Winner of this in 2017, he was seventh last year, while ridden both times by Soumillon. Likely in need of the run, he was not helped by drawing widest of all in 16. He picks up a new pilot in Olivier Doleuze.
Assistant trainer Trevor Brown said: “Like all of ours, he is going to progress from his first run. From that draw, he faces a very stiff task.”
Charlie Appleby, top trainer at last year’s carnival, saddles three more Godolphin runners. Top international rider James Doyle has chosen Key Victory over Salsabeel (Brett Doyle) and Bay of Poets (Colm O’Donoghue).
“We expect all three to be competitive,” Appleby said. “To be honest, regarding their chances, I could probably throw a blanket over them. In that big field, luck in running is going to be important. Hopefully, at least one of them enjoys some.”
The 2017 Al Maktoum Challenge R2 heroine Furia Cruzada, for Erwan Charpy and Antonio Fresu, as well as this year’s Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot winner Settle for Bay, to be ridden by Pat Dobbs for David Marnane, are others worthy of a mention in a very tricky conundrum for Pick Six players.
DUBAWI STAKES (Group 3, $200,000)
On the dirt surface, the 1200m Dubawi Stakes presented by Longines Ladies Master Collection (G3) has attracted a select field of seven and is a truly international affair with the local sprinters facing stiff opposition from the UK, Sweden and Korea. The $200,000 dash serves as a course and distance prep for the $2.5 million Dubai Golden Shaheen sponsored by Gulf News (G1), the world’s richest dirt sprint, on Dubai World Cup night.
Representing South Korea is Ace Korea, who has received a plumb draw in one with Darryll Holland riding for Peter Wolsley. Trickbag, from Sweden, would appear to have a bit to find and is drawn widest of all in seven. Meanwhile, a first UAE runner since 2014 for David Barron, dirt debutant Above the Rest, is a fascinating challenger. To be ridden by Ben Curtis, the 8-year-old Excellent Art gelding sports a dirt-friendly pedigree and has won on ground varying from soft to good to firm, as well as the all-weather.
Also inaugurated in 2011, the Dubawi Stakes was won four times by Reynaldothewizard for Satish Seemar and Richard Mullen, who combine with Touch Gold Racing’s well-regarded Raven’s Corner. His supporters will know their fate when the gates open, as he has often been slowly away and has even been withdrawn after playing up in the gates.
Doug Watson saddles both My Catch with Pat Dobbs in the saddle and lightly raced 5-year-old Drafted, who will be ridden by Sam Hitchcott, as he was when winning the course and distance Garhoud Sprint (Listed) four weeks ago. Another from the Garhoud, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum’s Sandeep Jadhav-trained High on Life will look to improve upon his fifth-place finish that evening.
Remainder of Meydan Card
Over 1400m on the dirt surface, the UAE 1000 Guineas Trial presented by Longines La Grande Classique has attracted the maximum field of 14, with Watson left hoping his reserve Lady Wedad will get a run. Simon Crisford, establishing a satellite yard at Millennium Stables, saddles three, all owned by Sheikh Juma Dalmook Al Maktoum. Of those, Starry Eyes and Turn ’n Twirl look the best of the trio, with little separating them.
For Bin Suroor, Godolphin and Soumillon, Dubai Beauty appears the one to beat, if she merits her official rating of 104 and handles the surface. A daughter of Frankel, she was impressive winning on debut at Newmarket before failing to factor in Group 2 and Group 1 grass company.
Elsewhere, 12 will go to post in the 1000m turf handicap, the Longines Ladies Record Collection, won in each of the last three years by the sadly deceased Ertijaal, whose owner, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum has three chances, including Australian raider Faatinah, a 1200m carnival winner last year. Darren Bunyan-trained Irish Group 3 winner Hit The Bid and Jaber Ramadhan’s locally based Dutch Masterpiece were also 2017 Carnival winners and must be respected.
“He’s a horse who thrived out here last year,” Bunyan said. “He really learned to race proper as a sprinter and he’s had a really good summer under his belt at home. Unfortunately, the ground was against him in his three runs; the only three times it rained in Ireland this year, which is highly unusual. He’s a different horse this year than he was last year.”
Her Majesty The Queen has only had one previous runner in the UAE, Banknote, who ran twice without joy in handicaps at Nad Al Sheba in 2009, but will have her first Meydan competitor when Seniority and Chris Hayes face 13 rivals in the concluding Longines Master Collection Moon Phase, a 1400m turf handicap, for William Haggas. The leader on ratings is Mike de Kock-trained 2018 Zabeel Mile (G2) winner Janoobi, who may need the run, but sports enough back-class to be respected.