DUBAI // Frankie Dettori says he will be happy with just one win on World Cup night. The Godolphin jockey will not say which horse he thinks is most likely to provide him with a trip to the winners' enclosure, only that he likes them all and would not swap his rides with any other jockey's.
That said, the Italian knows how marginal the difference between a win and a place on the world's richest night of horseracing can be. "I like all my runners and they have all been working well. You just have to keep your fingers crossed on World Cup night; you could have horses capable of winning three firsts but you might find yourself contesting three thirds," he said. Of course, Dettori is not riding all of Godolphin's runners, Ahmed Ajtebi will be on several for the stable's new trainer, Mahmoud al Zarooni. Chief among his chances for a win is the 2009 Sheema Classic winner, Eastern Anthem, who is bidding for the double in that race.
Both Ajtebi and Ted Durcan, who is also picking up Godolphin rides, have been known to sneak in front of Dettori, but he will be riding what could be the Dubai stable's best hope of the night - Gayego. The five-year-old runs in the six furlong US$2million (Dh7.3m) Dubai Golden Shaheen. He was a two-and-three-quarter-length second on his seasonal debut behind a strong-looking War Artist at Meydan Racecourse and his trainer, Saeed bin Suroor had always said he would need the run.
He acquitted himself honourably, however, and though giving weight to his rivals due to his Grade One win last year in the Ancient Title Stakes, he kept on well once he got clear. "He was a little rusty first time out this season," said Dettori of the Breeders' Cup Sprint fourth. "But he is a very tough horse and he certainly has a chance. Having said that, this race is wide open." Chief among the threats would be Singapore's Australian-bred Rocket Man, trained by Patrick Shaw. Having recovered to his imperious best in last month's Kranji Stakes after a hairline fracture in his leg, he will be looking to continue his comeback in Dubai.
Japan's Laurel Guerreiro, prepared by Mitsugi Kon, is another likely to literally blast off. Blessed with raw pace, the Shinji Fujita-ridden contender will prove a rival to Dettori's mount. Godolphin are double-handed in the $10 million Dubai World Cup, with Dettori riding the St Leger-winning Mastery and Ajtebi on Allybar. Mastery has not had a run this season and goes into the race making his debut on Tapeta. With 11 Group One winners in the 14-strong field he is up against serious competition, a point Dettori concedes.
"He's a hardy horse and he can handle anything," said Dettori who was on Godolphin's other runner, second-placed Kite Wood, when Durcan rode Mastery to St Leger glory last year. Should Mastery claim the win, he would have helped Dettori to equal Jerry Bailey's record of four Dubai World Cup victories. Allybar won two out of three starts this season, including the Al Maktoum Challenge Round II, but he, like Mastery, will need to be at the top of his game. "He has been doing very well and is worthy of his place, but there are some very strong horses in the race," said Ajtebi. "It is in his favour that he knows the track and performs on it. Some of the runners have not raced on the Tapeta before and are coming back after a layoff." @Email:email@example.com