Horse racing in focus: David Simcock hopes quantity equals quality at Dubai World Cup Carnival

When the entries for the Dubai World Cup Carnival were released this month there was one trainer from Britain whose name stood out above all others — David Simcock.

Trainer David Simcock has 39 runners taking part in the Dubai World Cup Carnival. Scott Heavey / Getty Images
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When the entries for the Dubai World Cup Carnival were released this month there was one trainer from Britain whose name stood out above all others — David Simcock.

Simcock nominated more horses than any of the 39 British trainers with horses put up for the Carnival, which starts a week from Thursday. With eight horses braced to travel to Dubai this winter, he sits behind South African Mike de Kock and Swedish handler Niels Petersen as the international trainers with the biggest strings.

In a year when entries were down from most countries, Simcock hopes that others’ loss might be his gain and is eyeing the riches of World Cup night with his stable stars The Corsican and Balios, Al Asayl’s best thoroughbred to date.

“It staggers me that people bypass these opportunities,” he said. “The Dubai Turf and Sheema Classic are worth US$12 million (Dh44m) together and there is a lot of money on offer during the Carnival.

“Of course, if you get it wrong your horse can easily go up 10lbs in the handicap for running well without winning and then where do you go when you come back to Europe? There is also the risk that they do not take to it or travel poorly but Dubai is great for a lot of horses.

“Look at Balios. There is no real starting point for him in Europe. He likes good ground so Meydan will suit him.”

Balios won the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot in June before he found the slow early pace of French racing unsuitable and the soft ground of York too much of a struggle.

Simcock plans to run him in the Dubai Sheema Classic and, with The Corsican set to drop back to the 1,800 metres of the Dubai Turf, March 26 could be a night to remember.

“The Corsican is a really talented horse,” Simcock said. “He had a really good year and arguably could have had a better one.

“He has plenty of pace as showed when he was fourth at Royal Ascot in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (2,000m) when he had a troubled passage.

“He was the last off the bridle on ground he didn’t like in the Champion Stakes at Ascot in October, too.”

Not every trainer boasts the links with Dubai that Simcock enjoys. Al Asayl have a long-term thoroughbred project in mind, and The Corsican is owned by Fitri Hay, wife of UAE-based businessman Dr Jim Hay, who could also see his colours carried during the Carnival by Horsted Keynes and Calling Out.

Meydan regular and Dubai City Of Gold runner-up Sheikhzayedroad is owned by Mohammed Jaber, Majeed by Khalifa Dasmal and talented and rejuvenated handicapper Glory Awaits has been snapped up by John Cook, who holidays in Dubai during the winter. Captain Morley is owned by Qatar Racing.

Like most European trainers, Simcock will commute from Britain on a weekly basis to check his horses, who will be looked after by travelling head groom Ian Russell and 11-season veteran Katie Read.

Most of Simock’s horses will be ridden by Jamie Spencer, who enjoyed a resurgent season in Europe and on the international stage after he reversed his curious decision to retire early from the saddle.

“He is a person I get on with very well and as a rider he can adapt his craft anywhere in the world,” Simcock said.

“I know he is a bit of a Marmite rider — you either love him or hate him as a jockey.

“He’s funny and warming to owners and they want to have an experience and a relationship with their jockey.

“Khalifa Dasmal calls him ‘The Monkey’ as he always has a cheeky smile on his face.

“He’s also extremely thorough with his feedback.

“Of course, at times he gets it wrong, but who doesn’t?”


The biggest clue that the Dubai World Cup Carnival is just around the corner is that Godolphin have their first runner of this season at Meydan on Friday.

Marmoom Stables handler Charlie Appleby gives Zephuros a chance to record his first win since he was running on the turf in England in 2014 in the Dh145,000 EGA Casthouse Trophy over 1,600 metres.

Appleby had hoped that Zephuros might emerge as a UAE Classic horse last season but the son of Invincible Spirit was firmly put in his place first by subsequent UAE Derby Mubtaahij and then last time out by the talented Maftool in the UAE 2,000 Guineas.

In between there was an outing on turf, in which he ran with promise but tonight’s action is on the sand.

The mount of Richard Mullen will have to be at his best to see off Musabah Al Muhairi’s Muhtaram and Ali Rashid Al Raihe’s Prepared.

Both horses have showed a fair level of form this season in defeat, while Ismail Mohammed’s Conquerant could also be interesting back at Meydan after he failed to build on his promising run in November when down the field at Jebel Ali three weeks ago.

In the feature race, the EGA Excellence Trophy over 1,400 metres, Al Muhairi bids to achieve a remarkable training feat if the talented Innocuous could land the Dh165,000 contest. The eight-year-old gelding has not run since being edged out by a nose in a sprint handicap at Meydan just over two years ago and will be ridden by Fernando Jara.

Filfil, one of the few horses to win on Meydan’s dirt last season having been held up, will be partnered by Mullen, while talented sprinter Kasb, owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, has been transferred from the Newmarket yard of John Gosden and will run for Al Raihe.


A contingent of Swedish horses are already in situ at Meydan but a shipment of European horses left yesterday and will swell the international brigade a week out from the start of the Dubai World Cup Carnival on January 7. Here are five horses to look out for:

Glory Awaits (David Simcock)

There was a time when Glory Awaits finished second to Godolphin’s New Approach in the English 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket. He showed the talent was still there when second in the Group 2 in Turkey last season and has come down the handicap. He will need his first run, but second time up he should be ready.

Rivellino (Karl Burke)

Rivellino had yet to win on turf in 13 starts in Britain despite running some huge races in some of the hottest sprint handicaps this summer. On all-weather surfaces he boasts five wins, two seconds and a third from 13 starts and has own at Listed level.

Abe Lincoln (Jeremy Noseda)

Jeremy Noseda has not had a winner at Meydan for three seasons but came terribly close in the Godolphin Mile in March with Sloane Avenue, who is set to return to Dubai. In Abe Lincoln he has a son of Discreet Cat, who could be perfect for the UAE Classics.

Qurbaan (Francois Rohaut)

French trainer Francois Rohaut has never had a winner in Dubai with three runners but could also be contesting the UAE Classics with Sheikh Hamdan’s Qurbaan. A son of US sire Speightstown, the chestnut colt is two from two on the Polytrack of Chantilly and looks interesting.

Green Door (Robert Cowell)

When Green Door was a juvenile he won the Group 2 Flying Childers Stakes at Doncaster, a racecourse with a turf track on which all-weather runners do remarkably well. Green Door has been in the doldrums ever since, but recently joined sprint king Robert Cowell and won last time out. He could be on the way back and might like the dirt.

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