Fortify out to dampen high hopes

Godolphin horse will challenge Mike de Kock's South African import in the UAE 2000 Guineas at Meydan Racecourse.

Godolphin are set to take on Soft Falling Rain with Fortify in next month's UAE 2000 Guineas at Meydan Racecourse.

Soft Falling Rain earned a crack at the colt's Classic with a deeply impressive victory in the trial at the Dubai track on Thursday and could hand Mike De Kock a fifth victory in the Group 3 mile contest.

Fortify has arrived in Dubai alongside former stablemates Alpha and Emcee with the trio transferring from the American operation of Kieran McLaughlin. Questing, McLaughlin's star filly, did not make the trip and remains in training.

Fortify, a son of Distorted Humour, could not live with the best juveniles in the US last year and was regularly trounced by Shanghai Bobby, who beat Fortify into fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita in November.

Soft Falling Rain was forced to carry an extra 3kg on Thursday after his Group 1 success in South Africa in April but will not be penalised for the February 14 race.

"He is going well at the moment," Mahmoud Al Zarooni said of Fortify. "We are planning to run him in the UAE 2000 Guineas, which is his target. He will go straight there."

Fortify did not run on Lasix, the diuretic which helps to prevent horses suffering bleeding in their lungs which is allowed in America but outlawed in the UAE, with McLaughlin in preparation for a campaign in Dubai.

"Simon Crisford deals with these things. He is the racing manager and he knows what the long-term targets are for all of the horses," Al Zarooni said.

Fortify is joined at Al Zarooni's Marmoom stables by Emcee, who won the Grade 1 Forego Stakes at Saratoga in September. Alpha, who made history in August when dead-heating with Golden Ticket in the Grade 1 Travers Stakes, is at Saeed bin Suroor's Al Quoz facility and is unlikely to be seen until Super Saturday.

Godolphin and De Kock clash again today at Meydan away from the glare of the Dubai World Cup Carnival.

The turf track is to be used for non-Carnival action for the first time this season after it yielded two record-breaking runs on the opening night of the Carnival last week.

Al Zarooni runs Ahtoug in the Al Naboodah Construction Group Trophy, a handicap over 1,200m that shares top billing with the other Dh90,000 handicap that is the sixth and final race on the card.

Al Zarooni, who secured a treble at Meydan on Thursday, has enlisted the services of Kieren Fallon with Mickael Barzalona not engaged.

Ahtoug shares top weight with De Kock's Royal Ridge on 59.5kgs. Connections of both horses hope that their charges can progress to Carnival honours.

"We think he is a proper horse for Dubai and the Carnival so this provides an opportunity to get him on the track as we have not been able to get a run on the all-weather yet," said Paul Hanagan, who rides Royal Ridge for Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid. "He is in good form but will need every yard of this trip."

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