The Maktoum Challenge Round 1 for both thoroughbreds and Purebred Arabians is the highlight of the second meeting of this year's Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan Racecourse.
The Group 2 race for thoroughbreds has drawn nine runners, including Gold Town, Godolphin’s UAE 2000 Guineas winner trained by Charlie Appleby and ridden by James Doyle.
The four-year-old gelding by the 2002 Dubai World Cup winner Street Cry is returning to the Dubai track for his first start after finishing fourth in the UAE Derby on Dubai World Cup night last March.
“Gold Town was impressive in the UAE 2000 Guineas, but the trip of the UAE Derby was too far for him at that stage of his career,” Appleby told the Godolphin website.
“He is taking on some high-class horses who have very strong form on the dirt at Meydan, but we feel that if Gold Town can reproduce his UAE Guineas run he will have a live chance.
“The return to a mile will suit him and we can review whether to go back up in trip as the Carnival progresses.”
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Satish Seemar-trained North America and Sandeep Jadhav’s Heavy Metal will also have their eyes on the prize.
North America won last year's Group 1 Maktoum Challenge Round 3 ahead of Godolphin’s Thunder Snow but failed to replicate that run behind the same horse in the US$10 million (Dh37m) Dubai World Cup race.
Heavy Metal also returns for the first time after winning the Group 2 Godolphin Mile on Dubai World Cup night.
UAE champion trainer Doug Watson saddles three runners - Muntazah, Kimbear and Etijaah.
Masaarr is an interesting runner in his first local start for the Jebel Ali Stables’ trainer Nicholas Bachalard.
The colt arrives in the UAE after a decent European campaign having won a Listed prize at Deauville and a second place in a Group 3 race at Leopardstown in his last two races.
Simon Crisford’s African Ride with 10-time French champion jockey Christophe Soumillon while Korean raider Dolkong complete the line-up.
The Group 1 Maktoum Challenge Round 1 has drawn the maximum 16 runners allowed.
Eric Lemartinel is double handed with Mawahib, the choice of stable jockey Pat Cosgrave, and RB Torch.
Mawahib, with three runs already under her belt, is looking to break her duck for the season. RB Torch has run four times, winning the Group 3 Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan President’s Cup in Abu Dhabi.
Jean de Roualle’s Mirna, Ernst Oertel’s AF Al Sajanjle and Ali Rashid Al Raihe’s AF Mahshoum, are also entered.
Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor has a strong presence in the UAE 2,000 Guineas Trial with Royal Marine and Burj.
Royal Marine is tried on dirt for the first time and arrives after success in the Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere over the same trip on turf at Longchamp, France, in October.
Soumillon is atop Royal Marine and Kevin Stott is on board Burj, who won twice in the UK last year.
“Royal Marine won nicely in France and this will give us a chance to see whether he can handle racing on dirt,” Bin Suroor said.
“He is in good form and has been working well. I am hopeful of a good run.
“Burj was disappointing in the UK last season, but has been doing well out in Dubai. I have been happy with his work and I am looking for a better result from him this time.”