Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby kickstarts his preparation for the Dubai World Cup Carnival with two runners in as many Listed events in Thursday’s seven-race card at Meydan Racecourse.
The Englishman, who won the International Trainer of the Year award for the second successive year two weeks ago, runs Fly At Dawn in the fifth race and Comicas 35 minutes later.
Fly At Dawn runs in the 2,000-metre race, the same trip over the course and distance as the US$10 million (Dh36.7m) Dubai World Cup, which is usually held in March every year.
The race has drawn 13 runners, including last year’s winner Storm Belt, one of four in the race entered by UAE champion trainer Doug Watson.
Patrick Dobbs, a jockey retained by Watson, has chosen to partner Godolphin Mile winner Second Summer. The Panamanian Fernando Jara retains the ride on Storm Belt.
Dobbs's mount has the potential to develop into a genuine World Cup contender this year.
“We had hoped to get him to the World Cup last season,” Watson said. “But having run very well first time, he did not perform as we had hoped on Super Saturday, so we ended up in the Godolphin Mile [on World Cup night].
“Obviously, he won that for us and, on reflection, I am not sure we would have wanted to take on Arrogate [with] the form he was in on the big night.
"Hopefully Second Summer is a World Cup horse for this season. The draw [Gate 11] could have been kinder. But he is in great form at home and should run well in what looks a strong race."
Sam Hitchcott is atop 2016 Godolphin Mile runner up Faulkner, while Watson’s other entry Etijaah is ridden Dane O’Neill, the retained jockey of owner Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid.
“Sam has gone with Faulkner, who delighted us on his return after such a long time off,” added Watson, referring to his second on his reappearance behind stable companion Cosmo Charlie.
“Again, the draw [Gate 12] is not the best, but he is a horse we have always held in the highest regard.
“If he breaks well, Storm Belt has a good draw in four, just outside Etijaah who will appreciate the return to 2,000m. We would like to think all four of ours have good chances.”
The biggest danger to Watson’s quartet is Godolphin’s Fly At Dawn ridden by William Buick.
Fly At Dawn, the chestnut gelding by Discreet Cat, has also not run since his fifth in the UAE Derby on World Cup night. However, he has the beating of Cosmo Charlie in the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial in January.
Appleby can complete a double on the night with Comicas, runner up in the Golden Shaheen, also on World Cup night.
The four-year-old gelded son of Distorted Humor is back after a campaign in Europe, where he was third behind Tasleet in a Group 2 at York and was unplaced in his next start behind The Tin Man in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Ascot.
Comicas will face stiff challenge from Watson’s My Catch, Salem bin Ghadayar’s Yalta and Muarrab from the Grandstand Stables trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe.
In the first of the three Listed races, Watson’s Cosmo Charlie, a winner on his reappearance, heads the seven-runner field in the Listed The Dubai Creek Mile.