Meydan Racecourse stages the sixth meeting of the 2018 Dubai World Cup Carnival, featuring the US$250,000 UAE 2000 Guineas (G3) and Mazrat Al Ruwayah (G2) for Purebred Arabians. Both highlights are over 1600m on the dirt track with the UAE 2000 Guineas Sponsored by Al Tayer Motors, restricted to three-year-olds, having originally attracted the maximum field allowed of 16. This was reduced by one when Waqqad was declared a non-runner. The 15 remaining include both winners of the 1400m trials staged three weeks ago.
The first of those trials was won in scintillating fashion by Godolphin’s Gold Town (post 4, William Buick), trained by Charlie Appleby. The son of Dubai World Cup (G1) winner Street Cry was a dominant winner by four lengths over Roland Rocks (post 10, Gerald Mosse) with a similar distance back to Roy Orbison (post 11, Tadhg O’Shea) in third. Both are in opposition again, as are several others who finished well in arrears.
Gold Town won twice in England and looks certain to be suited by this step up to 1600m. Appleby also saddles local debutant Last Voyage (post 7, Mickael Barzalona), winner on his racecourse bow at Windsor in May, but beaten twice since. Appleby is seeking a second win in the race, having saddled Long John to victory in 2014.
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“We were both delighted and impressed with Gold Town’s dirt debut and we are very hopeful the extra 200m in the Guineas will suit him,” Appleby said. “If he can run to the same level as when winning the trial, he will hopefully be hard to beat.
“We know Last Voyage can run well fresh because he won on his debut, so his absence since October is not a concern,” Appleby continued. “Judged on pedigree, he should handle the dirt and he has trained well on it. His form in Europe was pretty decent and we think the trip will suit on his first try over 1600m.”
Fellow Godolphin handler Saeed bin Suroor has the best record in the race, first contested in 2000, and is seeking his seventh victory. He relies on Racing Country (post 8, Patrick Cosgrave), second in the other trial three weeks ago before finishing well beaten in last week’s Meydan Classic Trial.
Bin Suroor said: “He disappointed on the turf last week, but back on dirt he should run much better and the 1600m will be in his favour.”
Three weeks ago Racing Country chased home El Chapo (post 5, Luke Morris). The three year old won on his first start for trainer Fawzi Nass, making it three consecutive victories. He won his previous pair of outings in England for trainer Richard Fahey. Again the mount of Luke Morris, it was also his first run since being gelded.
“We thought he would run well,” Nass said. “I could not have been happier when he won. Obviously, this is a better race but the extra distance should suit him and we are again hoping he runs well.”
Eight have been declared for the opening card of the night Mazrat Al Ruwayah Sponsored by Jaguar XF with the weights headed by form U. S.-based purebred Arabian Paddy’s Day (post 7, Pat Dobbs). The Doug Watson-trained 7-year-old is penalised for his course and distance victory in the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R1 on the first night of the carnival and carries between 3-5 kg more than his opponents. He then finished second in R2 over 2200m, a fortnight ago, but should be much happier reverting to 1600m on what will be his third outing for Doug Watson and Pat Dobbs.
“He has a penalty, which makes it a bit tougher, but the return to 1600m should definitely suit him and he remains in good form at home,” Watson said. “The ($1 million) Kahayla Classic (G1) sponsored by Mubadala on the (Dubai) World Cup card remains his main target, but this looked a decent opportunity to get him back over 1600m on the dirt.”
Watson also runs Foaad (post 2, Sam Hitchcott), making his local and dirt debut for owner His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who has three runners in the race.
Watson added: “He is a nice new horse and we will just see how he goes on the dirt in a race. He seems to handle it well at home.”
The main danger could be Mawahib (post 8, O’Shea), trained by Eric Lemartinel for His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Winner of her three most recent starts in the UAE with Tadhg O Shea aboard, she was then sent to Saudi Arabia for her latest outing, but unfortunately parted company with Tadhg O’She as the stalls opened.
Other key events include the 3200m marathon event of the evening, the Range Rover Sport (Race 6), worth $160,000, where Nass-trained stayer Los Barbados will attempt to earn himself an invitation to the $1 million Dubai Gold Cup (G2), over the same trip on March 31st, against the likes of Zamaam, Rembrandt Van Rijn and Natural Scenery.
Also, all-time leading Carnival jockey (92 victories, excluding Dubai World Cup night) Frankie Dettori returns and rides Jan. 25 Carnival winner Dutch Masterpiece in the $125,000 Range Rover Velar (Race 4) over 1200m down the turf chute. Twelve were entered, with many hoping a breakout performance punches their ticket to the $1 million Al Quoz Sprint sponsored by Azizi Developments (G1) on March 31st over the same course and distance.
The 2018 Dubai World Cup Carnival continues at Meydan Racecourse on Saturday with a further seven race card, including the $200,000 Balanchine Stakes (G2) and $200,000 Firebreak Stakes (G3).