Dubai World Cup: From Kahayla Classic to Sheema Classic - race-by-race guide and predictions

Amith Passela provides the information and his top-three predictions for the eight races leading up to the flagship $12m event

DUBAI , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES , MARCH 31  – 2018 :- Tallaab Al Khalediah  ( SA ) ridden by  Roberto Perez  ( no 10  ) won the 2nd horse race Dubai Kahayla Classic 2000m dirt held at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai. ( Pawan Singh / The National ) For News/Sports. Story by Amith
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3.45pm: Dubai Kahayla Classic (PA) Group I (Dirt) 2,000m, $1,000,000

Tallaab Al Khalediah has won every race he has run and could stretch his record to 10 if he can replicate his run in the Kahayla Classic 12 months ago. Challenging the Saudi Arabian eight-year-old are 14 others, 12 of them trained in the UAE, while Fazza Al Khalediah is flown in from Poland and Al Shamoos arrives from France but runs in the silks of Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed.

Predictions: 1. Tallaab Al Khalediah 2. Fazza Al Khalediah 3. AF Maher

4.15pm: Godolphin Mile (TB) Group 2 (D) 1,600m, $1,500,000

09.03.19. Meydan. Race 4, Muntazah - jockey Jim Crowley  - trainer Doug Watson - Erika Rasmussen

The runner-up in the race behind Heavy Metal last year, Muntazah is returning to the track after back-to-back victories, including in the Burj Nahaar, the Godolphin Mile Trial, in his last start on Super Saturday. American raiders Coal Front and True Timber are the two Muntazah has to fear most. Godolphin’s Major Partnership - after winning his last start on the Meydan turf - and the Turkish runner Good Curry - third behind Muntazah in his last start - are worth considering.

Predictions: 1. Muntazah 2. Coal Front 3. True Timber

4.50pm: Dubai Gold Cup Group 2 (Turf) 3,200m, $1,500,000

Melbourne Cup winner Cross Counter is a leading contender for the Dubai Gold Cup. AP Photo

Cross Counter returns to the track after becoming the first British-trained horse, and the first in the Godolphin silks, to win the Melbourne Cup. The Charlie Appleby-trained four-year-old gelding will be primed for his return after spending much of his time in Dubai, following his success at the Flemington racecourse in November. His stable companion Ispolini, with victories in his last two starts at Meydan's Dubai World Cup Carnival, can run close with Prince Of Arran and Call The Wind.

Predictions: 1. Cross Counter 2. Prince of Arran 3. Ispolini

5.30pm: Al Quoz Sprint Group I (T) 1,200m, $2,000,000

09.03.19. Meydan. Race 3, Blue Point  - jockey  William Buick - trainer Charlie Appleby - Erika Rasmussen

Blue Point missed out on competing for the prize last year when he was withdrawn moments before the start of the race after blood was spotted in his nostrils. His stable companion Jungle Cat went on to win the race from the two-time Breeder’s Cup Turf Sprint winner Stormy Liberal, who is returning for a second crack. Blue Points looks rock solid after breezing past his rivals in two starts in the Dubai World Cup Carnival.

Predictions: 1. Blue Point 2. Caribou Club 3. Stormy Liberal

6.05pm: UAE Derby Group 2 (D) 1,900m, $2,500,000

09.03.19. Meydan. Race 2, Divine Image - jockey Brett Doyle  - trainer Charlie Appleby - Erika Rasmussen

Divine Image sets a decent standard having won three of her four career starts. The only blemish was when she missed the break on her Meydan debut, yet still she came from a long way from the back to finish runner-up in the Listed UAE 1000 Guineas. She won her next two starts over the UAE Derby course and distance, and looks all set to extend Godolphin’s record run in the race to nine victories. If successful, she will also become the second filly, after Godolphin’s Khawlah in 2011, to win the UAE Derby.

Predictions: 1. Divine Image 2. Stubbins 3. Plus Que Parfait

6.40pm: Dubai Golden Shaheen Group I (D) 1,200m, $2,500,000

XY Jet finished runner-up in last year's Dubai Golden Shaheen and goes again in this year's race. EPA

It looks a contest between the American quartet drawn in the first four in the barrier. XY Jet and Roy H were second and third behind Mind Your Biscuits 12 months ago, and the two are set to be locked in a re-match. Imperial Hint and Promises Fulfilled are the likely rivals, although they have both finished behind Roy H in the Grade 1 Twinspires Breeders' Cup Sprint. Local horse Drafted has been consistent this season, winning three of his four starts, and is the most appealing of the rest.

Predictions: 1. Imperial Hint 2. XY Jet 3. Roy H

7.20pm: Dubai Turf Group I (T) 1,800m, $6,000,000

09.03.19. Meydan. Race 7, Dream Castle  - jockey  Chritophe Soumillon - trainer Saeed bin Suroor - Erika Rasmussen

Almond Eye gets a lot of attention in this race as she competes for the first time outside her native Japan. She has won six of her career starts, including all three legs of the Filly Triple Crown and the Group 1 Japan Cup. Her handler, Sakae Kunieda, has gone on record saying: “Even I don’t know where her limit is yet.” This race has drawn an international field from Britain, France, Australia, South Africa and Japan, challenged by Godolphin’s trio Dream Castle - a winner three times over the course and distance - Wootton and Mountain Hunter.

Predictions: 1. Almond Eye 2. Dream Castle 3. Wootton.

8pm: Dubai Sheema Classic Group I (T) 2,410m, $6,000,000

09.03.19. Meydan. Race 5, Old Persian - jockey William Buick  - trainer Charlie Appleby  - Erika Rasmussen

This looks another prize that can fall to Godolphin. Old Persian is the most appealing of the eight runners after his victory in the Group 2 City Of Gold, the trail race on Super Saturday, when he had to overcome heavy traffic to win from another Godolphin runner, Racing History, by a short head. Magic Wand is respected.

Predictions: 1. Old Persian 2. Magic Wand 3. Rey De Oro