Meydan Racecourse has all the dirt on American runners in Dubai World Cup Carnival

The Dubai World Cup Carnival entries were announced Wednesday and include 11 runners from US and none from Japan but that could change, writes Geoffrey Riddle.
Private Zone is seen during morning gallops at Meydan racecourse, Dubai, on the 23rd of March 2013. Credit: Jake Badger for The National
Private Zone is seen during morning gallops at Meydan racecourse, Dubai, on the 23rd of March 2013. Credit: Jake Badger for The National

The lure of a new dirt surface at Meydan Racecourse has drawn 11 American entries for the Dubai World Cup Carnival that starts at the UAE’s flagship track on January 8.

The Dubai Racing Club unveiled on Wednesday 240 horses that have been accepted to race at the Carnival, among which are 31 Group or Grade 1 winners.

Mike De Kock’s team of 46 horses is the biggest single entry from any international trainer, while there are 13 countries represented in addition to the UAE.

At this stage last season there were no runners set to travel from America, and the Dubai Racing Club feel they have made solid inroads into North America for Meydan’s first Carnival on dirt.

Frequent Dubai visitor Seth Benzel is trying to persuade connections of eight horses, including 2013 Dubai Golden Shaheen runner Private Zone, to travel their horses under his banner to Dubai for the duration of the campaign.

Dubai World Cup-winning trainer Graham Motion may return to Meydan with Beyond Empire and Horsted Keynes, while rags-to-riches trainer Conor Murphy could saddle his first runner in the UAE with sprinter Dimension.

“It is great to see so many US horses entered for the Carnival. It is a first step for us following the installation of dirt,” Frank Gabriel, executive director of racing, told The National from Hong Kong.

There were no entries from traditional dirt powerhouse Japan, however.

“Japan has a great racing programme and it is difficult to compete with that,” Gabriel said. “I am sure as we get closer to Super Saturday and World Cup night a few Japanese trainers and owners might check the barometer of opinion and see.

“We are not relying on America, and we want to try to build a Carnival with horses from all over the world.”

There were bumper entries from Britain, which could send up to as many as 106 horses, compared to an initial entry of only 76 last season.

Dubai World Cup-bound Toast Of New York, English 2,000 Guineas winner Night Of Thunder – owned by UAE businessman Saeed Manana – and Irish 1,000 Guineas and EP Taylor Stakes winner Just The Judge all feature.

Ireland have entered 25 horses, including Meydan regular Sole Power and Dubai Gold Cup winner Certerach, while the French contingent has been greatly reduced from 12 entries last season to only one this campaign.

Avon Pearl became the first winner at the Carnival for Norway last season for trainer Rune Haugen, and the big movers in Europe were Norway, who could send up to 23 horses, and Sweden, who could fly over five.

“There is a dirt track at Malmo in Sweden, and most of those horses entered will handle our surface,” said Martin Talty, international manager for the Dubai Racing Club.

“It is a developing region and it is great to see such a strong entry. It can only benefit both them and us to have horses from there come to Dubai.

“In Europe it is the middle of winter, and some of those horses entered wouldn’t race for nearly the prize money that we offer at any point in their careers.”

Follow our sports coverage on twitter at @SprtNationalUAE

Published: December 10, 2014 04:00 AM


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