Dubai World Cup Carnival: Five things to watch unfold plus race predictions
Ahead of the latest Dubai World Cup Carnival, Geoffrey Riddle picks out five things to keep an eye on at Meydan Racecourse this weekend.
Last season the Godolphin challenger became just the fourth horse to complete the Cape Verdi-Balanchine double. Saeed bin Suroor’s runner faces six rivals in Thrsday night in the Balanchine, a Group 2 contest staged over 1,800 metres, in an effort to become the first horse to complete the double in successive seasons. Were she to do so, she has been named well. Whether she is good enough to progress, as Bin Suroor’s Sajjhaa did in 2013 to win the Dubai Turf, remains to be seen. She may not even be Godolphin’s primary challenger in the World Cup night race with Ribchester set to travel from England for the March 25 date.
The French jockey has not graced Meydan since that memorable night in 2015 when Solow — absent from World Cup night next month — won him the US$6 million (Dh22m) Dubai Turf, previously the Dubai Duty Free. That evening he also guided Flintshire to second in the $6m Dubai Sheema Classic. Guyon rides one of Pia Brandt’s two runners on Thursday night in Via Firenze in the Balanchine. Via Firenze finished sixth to Very Special in the Cape Verdi.
■ Mike de Kock: Noah From Goa can challenge Championship at Meydan
■ Dubai World Cup Carnival: Ertijaal favourite for Meydan Sprint
The French raider has to cede to Ertijaal as the highest-rated runner at Meydan on Thursday night but boasts the best piece of form going on the seven-race card. Alain de Royer-Dupre, who will unleash defending Dubai Gold Cup winner Vazirabad in next week’s Nad Al Sheba Trophy, teams up with Christophe Soumillon, who has ridden the four-year-old colt in all seven of his starts. Zarak ran into Almanzor twice in Europe last season, and that conqueror was named as Europe’s best horse last month. The 2,000m of the Dubai Millennium Stakes is perfect, and there will be nothing of Almanzor’s class standing in his way.
Bin Suroor has had a fine season so far, and if Zarak is not up to scratch on what is likely to be a prep run for World Cup night, then Promising Run and Mike de Kock’s Sanshaawes stand in his way. Godolphin have won five of the six runnings of the Dubai Millennium Stakes, named after the 2000 Dubai World Cup winner who is still the all-time favourite of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Wild Dude’s season has not gone exactly to plan, and trainer Michael Halford steps up the former US sprinter to 1,400m on Thursday night in the $160,000 Watch Time Handicap. Wild Dude came to Dubai with a tall reputation, having won two Grade 1 sprints. Raafid has been imported from France by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid and, with a history of front running, could easily poach a lead under Sam Hitchcott from the inside gate and just keep running.
Race 1: Gulfnews.com, 1,400 metres, handicap
• Winner: King Cole
Race 2: Balanchine, 1,800m, Group 2
• Winner: Very Special
Race 3: Watch Time, 1,400m, handicap
• Winner: Raafid
Race 4: Meydan Sprint, 1,000m, Group 3
• Winner: Ertijaal
Race 5: Zabeel Mile, 1,600m, Group 2
• Winner: Noah from Goa
Race 6: Inside Out, 1,600m, handicap
• Winner: American Hope
Race 7: Dubai Millennium Stakes, 2,000m, handicap
• Winner: Sanshaawes
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Published: February 15, 2017 04:00 AM