First 2023 Dubai World Cup Carnival meet kicks off at Meydan on Friday

The opening night’s seven-race card is highlighted by the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1

Prince Eiji under Pat Dobbs winning the Listed Dubai Creek Mile at Meydan on December 1, 2022. Photo: Adiyat Racing Plus
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The Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 headlines the opening meeting of the 2023 Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan Racecourse on Friday.

The $250,000 race, run over the mile trip, has drawn the maximum field of 16, including the first four home in last year's race – Golden Goal, Secret Ambition, Kafoo and Thegreatcollection.

Golden Goal is one of the five runners sent out by seven-time UAE champion trainer Doug Watson.

Sam Hitchcock was atop the nine-year-old Dark Angel gelding, but with the stable jockey Pat Dobbs suspended, he has elected to partner stable companion Prince Eiji, winner of the Listed Dubai Creek Mile five weeks ago.

The Dubawi gelding finished ahead of several runners he faces Friday, including Watson’s Everfast, Thegreatcollection and Golden Goal.

Pat Cosgrave rides Golden Goal while Oscar Chavez on Everfast, Richard Mullen on Thegreatcollection and Danny Tudhope picking up the spare ride on Midnight Sands completing a potent looking quintet for the Red Stables.

“We learned a lot tactically about Prince Eiji in the Creek Mile as he could not get the lead but quickened nicely from off the pace and stayed on well,” Watson said.

“We always planned to run a few as we are lucky enough to have a good team of dirt milers and they all go there in good form. Hopefully they can all run well.”

Race card

6pm: Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 – Group 1 (PA) $50,000 (Dirt) 1,600m
6.35pm: Dubai Racing Club Classic – Handicap (TB) $100,000 (D) 2,410m
7.10pm: Dubawi Stakes – Group 3 (TB) $150,000 (D) 1,200m
7.45pm: Jumeirah Classic Trial – Conditions (TB) $150,000 (Turf) 1,400m
8.20pm: Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 – Group 2 (TB) $250,000 (D) 1,600m
8.55pm: Al Fahidi Fort – Group 2 (TB) $180,000 (T) 1,400m
9.30pm: Ertijaal Dubai Dash – Listed (TB) $100,000 (T) 1,000m

Runner-up and third last year, Secret Ambition and Kafoo both represent Bhupat Seemar, joined by another duo from Zabeel Stables in Desert Peace and Discovery Island.

Tadhg O’Shea partners Secret Ambition whom he piloted to both the Group 3 Firebreak Stakes and Group 2 Godolphin Mile in 2021 but is without a victory since.

Desert Wisdom, winner of last year's Group 3 Burj Nahaar, 2019 Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 winner Capezzano, and last season’s Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile and Dubai Creek Mile runner-up, Daniyah, all add further intrigue to what appears a cracking renewal.

The main support race and turf feature is the 1,400m Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort, a race in which Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby is seeking a fifth success in six years.

He saddles both Group 3 Jersey Stakes winner Noble Truth, the mount of William Buick, with James Doyle in the saddle aboard stable companion Al Suhail.

“Noble Truth hasn’t raced since Royal Ascot but I have been happy with his prep going into this,” Appleby said.

“Whatever he does on Friday, I would expect there to be a bit of improvement to come afterwards.

“Al Suhail boasts some good form at Meydan and is in good order. He has a wide draw to overcome but his preparation has also gone well and this is probably his ideal trip these days.”

Switzerland won the Group 1 Golden Shaheen, the 1,200m dirt sprint on the Dubai World Cup card last year, and he is among 11 set to face the starter in the Group 3 Dubawi Stakes.

“He seems to be in good form and we are hoping for a big run under his optimum conditions,” sATISH Seemar said of the nine year old Speightstown gelding.

Updated: January 06, 2023, 3:59 AM
Race card

6pm: Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 – Group 1 (PA) $50,000 (Dirt) 1,600m
6.35pm: Dubai Racing Club Classic – Handicap (TB) $100,000 (D) 2,410m
7.10pm: Dubawi Stakes – Group 3 (TB) $150,000 (D) 1,200m
7.45pm: Jumeirah Classic Trial – Conditions (TB) $150,000 (Turf) 1,400m
8.20pm: Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 – Group 2 (TB) $250,000 (D) 1,600m
8.55pm: Al Fahidi Fort – Group 2 (TB) $180,000 (T) 1,400m
9.30pm: Ertijaal Dubai Dash – Listed (TB) $100,000 (T) 1,000m