• Dubai World Cup Carnival, Thursday-Saturday, Meydan Racecourse
• Schedule and racecards: emiratesracing.com
Ahead of this weekend’s Dubai World Cup Carnival, here are five things to keep an eye on Thursday’s opening night.
The six-time British Champion Jockey is back in Dubai riding out for long-time friend Saeed bin Suroor at Al Quoz Stables. The 51-year-old jockey announced his retirement from the saddle in July, when it was discovered that he was undergoing treatment for depression. He has been in Dubai for nearly two months and has no plans on returning to the saddle as a jockey.
7.05pm Longines La Grande Classique handicap
Indian horses do not make it to Dubai so often but Desert God represents pioneering trainer Sadakshara Reuben Padmanabhan. Padmanabhan has previous experience having saddled In the Spotlight to three unsuccessful runs at Meydan in 2013. He also visited Nad Al Sheba in 2004 and 2006. Mystical, trained by Subbiah Ganapathy, was the last Indian horse to win when twice victorious in 2007. In The Spotlight ran three times at Meydan in 2013 and the horse finished fourth, sixth and third. Padmanabhan had previous experience at Nad Al Sheba, Dubai’s previous flagship racing facility where he raced Berlioz three times in 2006 without success. He also came over in 2004.
7.40pm Longines Passion in Equestrian handicap
The Argentine colt is one of the highest-rated runners on the night, behind Ertijaal the sprinter and Ertijaal the middle distance colt. Mike de Kock has high hopes for the South American Group 1 winner, but the son of E Dubai, who won the 2001 Al Bastakiya, has not raced since June. He may well be short of fitness, but we will still see what he is made of and whether he is a candidate for the Dubai World Cup.
10pm Longines Dolce Vita
There are few trainers operating at the Carnival who can boast a better strike-rate than Singapore-based Steven Burridge. In 2012 the trainer ransacked Meydan. He had 11 runners for four winners and he is back for more. Burridge saddles Exlite Excalibur, who was fourth in the Australian Guineas last season when trained by Gai Waterhouse.
The Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1
The opening race of the World Cup Carnival is a belter. The Dubai Kahayla Classic winner AF Mathmoon renews rivalry with RB Burn, who beat him hollow in the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown at Abu Dhabi in November. For the record, Al Mourtajez, the greatest Purebred Arabian in the world, was behind them both in sixth. With Shateh and Manark also in the race, it is high class.
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