$6 million Longines Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) Cloth of Stars – Cloth of Stars was in great spirit when he came onto the dirt track at the Meydan…
$6 million Longines Dubai Sheema Classic (G1)
Cloth of Stars – Cloth of Stars was in great spirit when he came onto the dirt track at the Meydan racecourse at 5am. He was cantering behind stable companion Trais Fluors, who is going to run in the Dubai Turf, when he was doubled by a Japanese raider. As a consequence, he was very keen over the last half of the 1400m workout.
The pair had been watched by Lisa-Jane Graffard, the Godolphin representative, who said: “He is not the easiest ride and he got a bit lit up this morning, but Claude (his exercise rider) has a great relationship with him and has the measure of him.”
Hawkbill – The Dubai City Of Gold Sponsored by Emirates Sky Cargo (G2) winner competed his preparation for Saturday when switching from the dirt to the grass at Godolphin’s private training facility, Marmoom, pleasing his trainer Charlie Appleby.
The 5-year-old was a European Group 1 winner in his younger days and has turned into a reliable international campaigner with his recent Meydan success and the likes of his second in the Northern Dancer Turf Stakes (G1) last September.
“He was trapped out wide last time but he showed his class late in the race and galloped out well,” Appleby said. “He came out of the race well and heads into Saturday in good shape.”
Despite having a preference for soft turf in his early days, Appleby is unconcerned about quicker conditions.
“The rain didn’t come in Canada and he put up a very good performance there and he was also third in the Coronation Stakes at Epsom,” Appleby added. “Soft ground does give him an advantage but he is versatile and handles quicker ground.”
Idaho – Idaho, like all of Aidan O’Brien’s horses, was still in quarantine on Wednesday morning and is expected to clear by Thursday training.
“We think and we hope there could be a big race in him this year,” trainer Aidan O’Brien said. “He placed in an Epsom and Irish Derby as a 3-year-old and he won the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot last year so he is the makings of a Group 1 winner.”
Poet’s Word – Thursday last week in Newmarket was the time and place for Poet’s Word to complete his serious preparation, leaving trainer Sir Michael Stoute’s travelling head groom Sarah Denniff and work rider Chas Robertson to keep the 5-year-old son of the recently-deceased Poet’s Voice ticking over.
Poet’s Word, runner-up in two Champion Stakes as a 4-year-old, has kept to the brief, and on Wednesday he wound up perhaps the most casual exercise of any horse who stepped on to either of Meydan’s tracks. He walked a circuit of the turf course, before putting together half-laps of trotting and very steady cantering.
“I was told to look after him, which I did,” Robertson said. “He’s done plenty of work before he came out here.”
Denniff, who is awaiting Stoute’s arrival on Thursday, added, “I’m very happy with him. He’s done all his work at home, finishing with his gallop on Racecourse Side (in Newmarket) last week, and he’s travelled very well. He’s a fit horse.”
Stoute is aiming to win the race for the second time. His first success came in 2000 with Fantastic Light, who was beaten a nose by Stay Gold when attempting the double a year later. His Spanish Moon also went down by a nose, to Eastern Anthem, in 2009 and was beaten about a length when third to Dar Re Mi the following year.
Rey de Oro – Reigning champion 3-year-old of 2017 in Japan, Rey de Oro went 1000m over the turf course this morning under jockey Christophe Lemaire and moved easily in his final fast work before Saturday. “He was perfect.” Lemaire said.
Usual work rider Daisuke Tsumagari added: “He is in great condition. We have decent confidence in our chances this weekend but we will still try our best.”
Satono Crown – Multiple G1 winner Satono Crown not come out on to the track and stayed in the quarantine stable at Meydan.
$6 million Dubai Turf sponsored by DP World (G1)
Benbatl – Godolphin handler Saeed bin Suroor is set to saddle three runners, headed by Benbatl who, along with all the handler’s big night runners, cantered 2000m on the Al Quoz all-weather surface on Wednesday morning.
“After an excellent piece of work – his final gallop – on Sunday he should be spot on for Saturday,” Bin Suroor said. “It is a very strong race but, with a good draw, he should run a very big race.”
Crocosmia – Japanese mare Crocosmia worked 600m over the dirt track this morning, setting easy fractions.
“She has reached peak condition I think. She had good rhythm today,” exercise rider Hiroya Kitazoe said. “Since she is likely to go forward we’d like a post somewhere in the middle or slightly more on the outside, but in the end if she breaks well she’ll should go forward easily. We are really looking forward to this weekend.”
Deirdre – Group 1 winner Deirdre jogged and warmed up before galloping on the turf under work rider Yuta Komiyama. “I did not feel that the track was as firm as I originally thought, because it was very wet this morning. She responded well to my urging and moved nicely. I do not want to draw too far on the inside.” Komiyama said.
Promising Run – Won both the Cape Verdi and Balanchine before finishing fourth, on Super Saturday, in the Group 1 Jebel Hatta, the latter two efforts both over the same 1800m as the Dubai Turf.
Trainer Saeed Bin Suroor said: “Obviously Benbatl is our main chance, but Promising Run is a course and distance winner who has thrived in Dubai this year. She worked very well, over 1400m here at Al Quoz on Sunday, as did Leshlaa. Saturday is, as you would expect, a very strong race with some excellent horses but our three are all in great form.”
Lancaster Bomber – “The fast ground will be to his liking,” trainer Aidan O’Brien said. “He has developed into a very nice 4-year-old and he’s a very hardy horse.”
Monarchs Glen – Worked on the Meydan training track at 8am under Tony Proctor. The progressive Juddmonte home-bred son of Frankel rounded his 2017 season off with a victory in a Group 3 Newmarket on October 14.
“He’s travelled over well and seems to be enjoying himself,” Thady Gosden, assistant to his father John, said. “I think he’ll keep doing a similar thing on the training track ahead of Saturday’s race.”
Neorealism – Did not come out on to the track and stayed in the quarantine stable at Meydan.
Real Steel – Worked 600m over the dirt track under work rider Ryusei Sakai.“He is doing really well. We are back for revenge so I hope all goes well this weekend.” said trainer Yoshito Yahagi as he took his charge to school in the paddock.
Vivlos – Posted a sharp breezed 800m over the turf course under usual work rider Shinji Yasuda.
“She is doing remarkably well,” trainer Yasuo Tomomichi said. “She is eating and moving well and is full of energy this morning. We pushed her a little bit to get her sharp and she delivered. We are looking forward to Saturday.”
‘Ladies Man’ Stewart Looking To Make History With Forever Unbridled Trainer Dallas Stewart has always had a way with fillies and mares dating back…
‘Ladies Man’ Stewart Looking To Make History With Forever Unbridled
Trainer Dallas Stewart has always had a way with fillies and mares dating back to the days he galloped Winning Colors, who became the third female Kentucky Derby winner in history in 1988, while working as an assistant to renowned trainer D. Wayne Lukas. In fact, seven of his nine career Grade 1 victories have come with a female runner.
This Saturday, Stewart will attempt to make history with the most accomplished runner he has ever trained when he saddles Charles Fipke’s champion Forever Unbridled for the US $10 million Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline. The 6-year-old Unbridled’s Song mare will be attempting to become the first female winner in the 23-year history of the race. To date, To The Victory (Jpn) has been closest when second to Captain Steve in 2001.
“She can compete with the boys,” Stewart said. “I’ve been around a couple of good ones and she’s right there. When you run a filly against the boys, you need to feel like they have a chance to win. She’s not three, she’s six, so she’s older than most of the males she’s facing. Not only is she older, but she’s had some great accomplishments. Given those factors and how she’s doing, we’re going to go for it.”
Stewart, 58, is making his first trip to Dubai and a win in this prestigious race would be the biggest of his career. The native of McCombs, Mississippi spent 11 years working for Lukas and in addition to Winning Colors, also worked closely with Lady’s Secret, who beat males in the 1986 Whitney Handicap (G1) and was named that year’s Horse of the Year. He went out on his own in 1997 and to date his runners have won nearly $47 million. Among his most prestigious wins have been with 2006 Kentucky Oaks winner Lemons Forever, the dam of Forever Unbridled, the 2001 Breeders’ Cup Distaff with Unbridled Elaine and the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Distaff with Forever Unbridled, who became his first champion after her victory.
Since arriving in Dubai on March 21, Forever Unbridled has only made Stewart more confident heading into Saturday’s race.
“She’s a really, really good racehorse,” Stewart said. “She’s won at eight different racetracks. She had three starts and three wins last year, so she’s definitely dedicated to winning. Whether or not she can beat the boys, that’s what we’re going to try and find out. It will be a great pay day if we can get it done, but more importantly, it will be a great accomplishment for her.
“All through her career she’s been very talented. She had an ankle injury early on and we gave her the time off that she needed. She’s bigger and stronger now. She’s not your typical mare. She’s big and strong. She’s massive. She has great energy all the time. She’s come here ready.”
Forever Unbridled is scheduled to be retired after the Dubai World Cup and be bred to top stallion Medaglia d’Oro, who closed out his career with a second in the 2004 edition of the race. Stewart says he is not thinking about that just yet.
“My only concern is getting her ready for Saturday,” Stewart said. “We’re proud to be here. We’re happy for the invite. Hopefully, she’ll represent. She’s always represented us well in the past.”
-Jennifer Hoyt, DWC Notes Team
Godolphin’s Thunder Snow has his chance to rewrite the record books on Saturday in the US $10milllion Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates Airline.
If successful, he would be the eighth winner of the race for Saeed bin Suroor, the most successful trainer in the history of the showpiece race, as well as a seventh to carry the blue of Godolphin. The colt would also become the first UAE Derby sponsored by The Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group winner to follow up in the Dubai World Cup.
Having already won the 2017 UAE 2000 Guineas, he needed every one of the 1900m in the UAE Derby when leading in the final strides to deny Japan’s Epicharis.
A Group 1 winner as a juvenile, in the Criterium International at Saint-Cloud, he was also successful at the highest level, again in France, when landing the Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly last summer.
Christophe Soumillon was in the saddle for all those big race victories, having partnered him for the first time in the Criterium International, and was also aboard when they were second in the 1600m Al Maktoum Challenge R1, the feature on the first night of the 2018 Dubai World Cup Carnival.
They then won the 1900m second round of the challenge but the Belgian jockey was suspended on Super Saturday when, under Oisin Murphy, he was runner-up to North America.
Soumillon will be back in the saddle on Saturday and said: “I was, obviously, disappointed to miss Super Saturday but am really looking forward to getting back on him.
“He handles the dirt well enough but, perhaps, does not quicken on it as well as he does on turf. There looks sure to be a good gallop again on Saturday and we will be hoping for a good draw.”
The 4-year-old son of Helmet galloped at Al Quoz on Sunday morning, his final piece of serious work before the big race.
“We are very much looking forward to the Dubai World Cup on Saturday and could not be happier with Thunder Snow, who worked very well on Sunday,” Bin Suroor said.
“He is very versatile as we know having won both the UAE 2000 Guineas and UAE Derby last year, as well as Al Maktoum Challenge R2 this year, on the Meydan dirt.
“He is also a dual Group 1 winner, on turf in France and, hopefully, can enjoy another good campaign in Europe after Saturday. He was second on Super Saturday, which was a very good effort over the World Cup course and distance.
“Obviously the Dubai World Cup is a very strong race with American runners like West Coast and Forever Unbridled in the field but our horse is in great shape. Christophe gets on particularly well with him and we are very much looking forward to Saturday and, hopefully, a big performance from him.”
-Peter Ward, DWC Notes Team
Japanese Trainer Fujisawa Has Reasons to be Cheerful
In Kazuo Fujisawa’s long career there is one phrase he has stuck with: “Happy people make happy horses.”
And there will certainly be some smiles if Rey de Oro can shine in Saturday’s Longines Dubai Sheema Classic.
It was 10 months ago when the colt bested the top 3-year-old in his homeland and provided a first Derby title for Fujisawa in an otherwise very successful 31-year training career.
Perennially one of Japan’s top trainers, Fujisawa opened his training yard in 1987 and since then the 65-year-old has scored a total of 1396 wins from 8064 starts with 26 top-level victories.
On the global stage, he won the 1998 Prix the Jacques le Marois (G1), the 2006 G1 Cashcall Mile Invitational Stakes (G1) and the 2008 Peter Pan Stakes (G2). Rey de Oro has the potential to become his conditioner’s fourth international star.
Bred by Japan’s leading breeding operation, Northern Farm, Rey de Oro won his career debut over 2000m in October 2016 then went on to win his next two starts both over 2000m as a 2-year-old, rounding off the season with decisive win in the Hopeful Stakes (G2).
“He won all of his starts over 2000m as juvenile, but that was a lot tougher on him than I thought.” Fujisawa said. “But thanks to the training facilities and their staff’s best efforts during his winter spell, he was able to bounce back and was ready for the Classic season.”
His dam La Dorada was trained by Fujisawa and had raced from 1400m to 1800m. His second-dam Lady Blond, a half-sister to the champion Deep Impact, was also a Fujisawa trainee and only raced over 1200m during her career, so his bottom line proves he has solid speed.
The son of King Kamehameha kicked off his 3-year-old season with a fifth-place finish in the Satsuki Sho (G1), the Japanese 2000 Gunieas, under Christophe Lemaire, then took the Japanese Derby (G1) a week after Fujisawa and Lemaire claimed the Japanese Oaks (G1) with Soul Stirring.
Rey de Oro returned that autumn to complete his 3-year-old campaign, starting with a victory in the Kobe Shimbun Hai (G2) over 2400m in September. After a two-month spell, Rey de Oro opted to face the older horses in the Japan Cup (G1) instead of heading to the third leg of the Triple Crown, Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger, G1), and ran a superb second to Cheval Grand.
Rey de Oro did live up to his favouritism in his seasonal debut, finishing third in the 2200m Kyoto Kinen (G2) in February prior to travelling to Dubai.
“He did not break well and the pace was slow in his prep. The extra distance the distance on Saturday should be good for him.” the trainer said after the race without any pessimism.
It has been nine years since Fujisawa sent a horse to Dubai, and this is his first time to run at Meydan. “The Bermuda type of grass on the wide turf course here seems to suit him,” he said.
Japan’s contingent for the Dubai World Cup meeting this year has 14 horses, the largest number ever, and they all arrived in Dubai on March 20.
“He is getting more familiarised with the new surroundings and relaxing more day by day. He eats up well and is in a good mood.” said his work rider Daisuke Tsumagari.
A happy Rey de Oro could make a happy Fujisawa by the weekend.
-Mariko Seki, DWC Notes Team
Mendelssohn In Tune for Meydan Mission
Could this be the year that the UAE Derby sponsored by The Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group fuels Kentucky Derby glory?
Others have tried in the past and come up empty and the best showing in the Run for the Roses by a UAE Derby runner remains that of Master Of Hounds, who was beaten a pixel by Khawlah in the 2011 edition prior to a creditable fifth at Churchill Downs in May.
Trainer of Master Of Hounds was Aidan O’Brien, who has won the Derby twice with Daddy Long Legs in 2012 and a year later with Lines Of Battle (subsequently renamed Helene Super Star in Hong Kong).
Ireland’s record-breaking handler means business once again this year with Mendelssohn, the focus of a three-pronged attack on the US $2 million contest.
Mendelssohn was big news before he even made the track, with the half-brother to multiple American champion mare Beholder topping the Keeneland September Yearling Sale at $3 million to MV Magnier. His juvenile campaign began steadily but rounded off with two superb efforts, finishing second in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes before collecting the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar early in November.
Three weeks ago he returned to the fray on the all-weather at Dundalk in Ireland when he defeated stablemates Threeandfourpence and Seahenge, both of whom are pitched into battle again on Saturday.
“Mendelssohn continues to improve and we hope he can run a big race. He did very well over the winter and mentally he is very relaxed. He is American-bred so we hope the dirt will suit him,” O’Brien said.
“He is quite a strong traveller so we will learn more about him at Meydan in terms of the Kentucky Derby. You couldn’t be sure how well he will stay as he goes beyond a mile for the first time but we are hopeful he will get the trip.”
It is worth pointing out that O’Brien’s previous runners in the UAE Derby have gone into the race without a prep run, but the Patton Stakes at Dundalk presented itself this year as a suitable option given its new position on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
“The thinking is that having a run into our horses before the UAE Derby won’t be a disadvantage. We are very happy with how our horses are going into the race,” O’Brien added.
Nine runners go to post or the Derby but the race tempo should be pretty honest considering that rivals Gold Town, Rayya, Yulong Warrior and Threeandfourpence all led in their recent tests.
Mendelssohn is drawn in gate four and jockey Ryan Moore is likely to try and camp just behind the lead as he when successful at Del Mar and Dundalk. The Scat Daddy colt touched down in Dubai early on Tuesday morning and is expected to make his first appearance on the dirt track on Thursday.
-Jeremy Greene, DWC Notes Team
– Had a gentle workout at trainer Fawzi Nass’s base at Desert Stables…
$2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen Sponsored By Gulf News (G1)
Jordan Sport – Had a gentle workout at trainer Fawzi Nass’s base at Desert Stables in Al Quoz.
Mind Your Biscuits – A day after working a spirited half mile, last year’s winner Mind Your Biscuitsbucked the US trend of staying in the barn after a work to return to the track. Arriving just after 6am local time, the colt, who is on track to become the richest New York bred in history should he become the victor, jogged a backward lap around the track before visiting the starting gate.
Starter Shane Ryan quipped to trainer Chad Summers that Mind Your Biscuits stood great (in the gate) and that he “looks even better than he did last year.”
It’s been a busy 24 hours for the two-time Group 1 winner. He spent Tuesday evening schooling in the paddock. “He was good. A little hot but not bad at all,” Summers said.
Although it was open to all entrants, only Mind Your Biscuits and Dubai World Cup (G1) hopeful Gunnevera chose to take advantage of the schooling process which involves a van ride, visiting the receiving barn, saddling paddock and parade ring as well as a trek through the subterranean tunnel.
Muarrab – The Ali Rashid Al Rayhi trainee did not visit the track for the second consecutive day on Wednesday morning, and was later scratched from the race due to lameness.
Reynaldothewizard – Reading the mind of the UAE’s most popular veteran, Reynaldothewizard, has been one of the challenges for trainer Satish Seemar as he prepares the 12-year-old for his fifth appearance in the race.
“Because of his experience and the fact he’s the resident boss around the stable, he knows too much,” Seemar said. “So sometimes we have to cheat him into doing his best work at home.
“We take him the other way round, or start him off at different positions on the track, for instance. He’s got our number, so we leave things to him. He knows that when we put on the blinkers, he’s supposed to do his best work.”
The blinkers have been off since Reynaldothewizard completed his serious work with a 600m sharp hit-out under big-race rider Richard Mullen’s at Seemar’s Zabeel Stables on Monday.
“Like the rest of our Saturday runners, he walked and did a normal hack canter around the track,” Seemar said. “I’m very happy with him.”
Roy H – A day after breezing about 600m down the stretch of the Meydan dirt track under jockey Kent Desormeaux, American champion sprinter Roy H enjoyed a day of rest in the quarantine barn area, trainer Peter Miller reported.
“He is doing great,” Miller said. “We’re just hoping he will run his race and have a little luck on Saturday. If he does, he should win.”
Roy H walked on Wednesday morning following Tuesday’s drill and will be limited to light exercise on the days remaining before the 1200m Dubai Golden Shaheen, Miller said.
X Y Jet – American speedster X Y Jet stayed in the quarantine barn complex on Wednesday morning with trainer Jorge Navarro preferring to limit the 6-year-old grey gelding to light exercise in the tranquil area following several days of gallops on the Meydan dirt track.
“Everything is good,” Navarro said. “I have done enough with him (before the race) and I’m not going to do anything else. I just want to keep him happy.”
$2 million UAE Derby Sponsored by The Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group (G2)
Gold Town – The son of Street Cry has been a brilliant winner of the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial and the UAE 2000 Guineas (G3) itself on his two Meydan starts will will be bidding to go one place better than his sire, who was second in this race before winning the Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline, when he starts on Saturday.
“I am happy with how he has come through his last two races and he will have a final blowout tomorrow morning,” trainer Charlie Appleby said. “He couldn’t have done more than he has in his two races so far and hopefully he can put in another good performance at the weekend. He’s an improving horse.”
Mendelssohn – “Everything has gone according to plan with him,” trainer Aidan O’Brien said. “He won his prep run at Dundalk very nicely and we’re hopeful he can see out the distance as he goes beyond a mile (1600m) for the first time.”
Rayya – Leading trainer Doug Watson will send out Rayya against the boys for the first time. The filly will break from the inside post under rider Pat Dobbs in what will be her final start for Watson before heading to America and the care of trainer Bob Baffert.
Rayya was in good spirits on Wednesday morning.
“She was real fresh off her day off,” Watson said. “She cantered a 2000m and did it well. We’re really pleased with her.”
Boasting two wins and two seconds from four starts, Rayya has maintained her health going into the biggest race of her career.
“She’s glowing,” Watson said. “We still have a couple more days of training, but I couldn’t ask for her to be doing any better. If she’s good enough, with that draw, she should run well.”
$1 million Al Quoz Sprint Sponsored by Azizi Developments (G1)
Blue Point – A prolific winning juvenile, the 4-year-old was third in the Commonwealth Cup (G1) over 1200m at Royal Ascot last summer and broke the track record there with a win in October.
The son of Shamardal has had only one run at Meydan and encouragingly took second behind Ertijaal in the Meydan Sprint Sponsored by District One Greenery Stretch (G2).
“He did a routine canter here at Marmoom this morning and will work on the grass tomorrow,” trainer Charlie Appleby said. “He has come on for his last run and is in good form.”
Ertijaal – The Ali Rashid Al Rayhi runner was ruled out of race contention on Wednesday morning due to a stress fracture.
Holding Gold – Has competed at almost a dozen different racetracks in the United States and Canada but the Mark Casse trainee has yet to race on a straight course.
“He’s quite smart, so I do think he will handle the straight course,” assistant Randi Melton said.
For the first time Holding Gold is also being asked to run without the anti-bleeding medication Lasix. Melton said had that been a concern, Casse most likely would not have sent the horse here. In 2016 Casse took the great race mare Tepin to Royal Ascot, where she won without the medication.
On Wednesday morning, Holding Gold was fine and a bit feisty when he went out on the main track to stretch his legs during his easy one-mile gallop.
“He got keyed up some when a pair of turf workers passed outside of him heading into the lane. He then settled again nicely, but that did put him on his toes. But it was in a good way,” Melton said.
Librisa Breeze – Trainer Dean Ivory arrived on Tuesday and watched the grey have a spin on the turf course at 7.20am.
“The travelling over took a quite a lot out of him, as we imagined it would but he seems back on track now,” said Ivory. “You could always use a couple of days more to acclimatise but it is what it is. He worked lovely there so we look forward to Saturday.”
Music Magnate – Trainer Bjorn Baker has been to the races in Dubai once before but this time his trip will be as a participant rather than a spectator.
“I was here in 2007 when Invasor won the World Cup. I’m from New Zealand and there was a New Zealand-bred horse called Vengeance of Rain, who was based in Hong Kong, that won the 2400m turf race,” Baker said. “It’s very exciting to be here.”
Baker, the son of renowned Kiwi trainer Murray Baker, has good reason to be enthusiastic. The New Zealand-bred 7-year-old gelding, who provided him with his first and sole Group 1 victory, has turned heads since his earlier arrival and did so again Wednesday morning when sent out for his final tune-up before the race.
“I arrived yesterday and got my first look at him this morning and he looks great,” Baker said.
“Today he went out just past 5am and had a look at the grass again. We gave him a little blow-out and he went in what we call three-quarter 800s in about 15 seconds per furlong.”
Music Magnate, who is owned by Baker Racing and Cobbity Lodge Stud and Stable with about 20 partners, travelled over the turf course under apprentice jockey Jean Van Overmeire. Top Australian rider Blake Shinn was in the irons when Music Magnate won his last start and has been given the return call. Shinn will arrive in Dubai today and be at the barn in the morning.
“I won’t do any schooling in the paddock or the gate with him. He’s always been a good gate horse and we won’t change anything with him. From here, we’ll just keep him in the routine until Saturday.” Baker said.
Stormy Liberal, Conquest Tsunami and Richard’s Boy – All three of trainer Peter Miller’s contenders emerged from their 600m drills on Tuesday fit and ready for the race on Saturday.
“They’re all super. They ate well and just walked in the shedrow today,” Miller reported on Wednesday morning.
Miller said the trio may stay either in the quarantine barn area or at the training track for the remaining two days prior to the race, with only light exercise on their agendas.
Ruggero – Had a brief gallop on the dirt track with the trainer Yuichi Shikato, who had just arrived at Meydan, supervising him. The 3-year-old colt clocked the last 200m in 12.1 seconds.
“I am happy and he is in good order. The distance shouldn’t be an issue for him. He is always relaxed, is not tense and is easy to control. I have told the rider to work for 1000m in around 70 seconds and stretch out in the last.” Shikato said. “The field will be strong, so hopefully he can run his race.”
Yulong Warrior – The new ‘old’ owner of Yulong Warrior could be taking to the American Classic trail after handing the son of Street Cry a late entry for the US Triple Crown.
Satis Seemar, who continues to train Yulong Warrior following his weekend repurchase by Chinese businessman Zhang Yie Shang, revealed the tentative plan. “He was nominated at the last possible moment, and if he goes well on Saturday, his new connections may be interested in going in that direction,” Seemar said.
The new connections are, in fact, Yulong Warrior’s old ones. Bought by Yulong Investments for US$180,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sales in 2016, he ran three times placed in Ireland for trainer Michael Halford before Seemar signed a cheque for £360,000 at a pre-Royal Ascot boutique auction in London in June last year.
Three races at the Dubai World Cup Carnival, culminating in a runaway win by 11 and a half lengths in the Listed Al Bastakiya on Super Saturday, prompted the buy-back.
As Yulong Warrior, who had his final serious work-out on Monday, continued his gentle preparation on Wednesday for his most severe racecourse test, Seemar said: “As far as a possible trip to the US is concerned, we’ll have a meeting next week and decide the best course of action. I go race-to-race, so let’s see what Saturday brings first.”
$1 million Godolphin Mile Sponsored By Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City – Disctrict One (G2)
Kimbear, Muntazah, Second Summer and Shamaal Nibras – Trainer Doug Watson sends out seven runners on Saturday’s Dubai World Cup card including four here in Kimbear, Muntazah, Second Summer and Shamaal Nibras.
Kimbear, to be ridden by Pat Dobbs, has trained well throughout the week for Watson.
“He’s in really good form,” Watson said. “It’s a shame he didn’t draw better (12) but, who knows, it’s horse racing. The form he’s in, he could do anything. We’re real pleased with him.”
An outside post is not ideal but Watson will leave strategy in Dobbs’ capable hands.
“Most of the speed on paper is just on his inside and a little on the outside,” Watson said. “He can come from off it, it’s not that big a field, but he’ll press forward out of the gate. We won’t try and make the lead, there should be plenty of pace that he can sit off of it.”
Second Summer, who will have the services of Sam Hitchcott, cantered again this morning in preparation for his Godolphin Mile title defence.
“He’s in good form. We’re just going to have to ride him like we did last year and hope for the gap,” Watson said. “He’s well in himself and bouncing around the stable. We just hope he steps it up again. Maybe he’s saved it for the big night again.”
Dane O’Neill will ride Shamaal Nibras, a veteran of 51 career starts, who comes in fresh with just two starts in 2018 including a score in the Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile.
“We pulled him out of the box for the vet this morning and he ran out of the box and trotted like a 2-year-old. He looked really good,” Watson said. “He cantered again today a mile and a quarter (2000m) and he’s real fresh. That’s the way he likes to run and I expect him to run really well.”
Muntazah, set to make his dirt debut under Jim Crowley, completes the Watson quartet.
“He had a nice canter today. He’s an unknown on the dirt but we think he’ll like it and he has a great draw (three),” Watson said. “He’s just now fit and has had the two runs over here now with nice spacing in between. If he likes the dirt and doesn’t mind the kick back, which I don’t think he will, he should run a big race.”
Watson remains cautiously optimistic with two additional days of training scheduled for his contingent.
“Touch wood, it’s only Wednesday, but we’re pleased with them all,” Watson said.
Raven’s Corner/Secret Ambition – Former UAE champion jockey Richard Mullen has chosen Raven’s Corner, who ran his first poor race of the season when tackling 1200m on Super Saturday, over Satish Seemar-trained stablemate Secret Ambition.
Like the rest, Raven’s Corner was no match for runaway winner Jordan Sport in the Mahab Al Shimaal, before which he had won a handicap over 1400m.
Pat Cosgrave takes over on Secret Ambition, who failed by a fast-diminishing neck to catch Kimbear over the big-race distance on the same programme, having won three out of four starts previously in handicap company.
Mullen rode the pair in separate 800m gallops on Monday as they completed their serious big-race preparation at Zabeel Stables.
Seemar said, “Raven’s Corner always works on his own, otherwise he takes too much out of himself. We have to deceive him in his work, so he started off at a different point than usual, before Richard eased him into his work.
“He’s had a few niggling problems this season. He flipped over at the start of what should have been his first race and had to be withdrawn, but I think we’ve figured him out, and if all goes well and comes out of the stalls, he could be a surprise.”
About Secret Ambition’s Monday work experience, Seemar said, “He did as usual – no sparkle in the morning, but that’s what he is. This will be his seventh race of the season, which is a little different for me, but he’s a late bloomer and after his last race Richard said he wasn’t done with yet. I’m happy with both my runners.”
Rosa Imperial – The Godolphin owned filly, trained by André Fabre in France, came onto the dirt track of the Meydan racecourse at 7am. She followed her stable companion Talismanic as they cantered over about 1400m.
Lisa-Jane Graffard, the Godolphin representative said: “They look well in themselves.”
Special Fighter – After not receiving an invitation to the Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline, Special Fighter faces the challenge of running in a competitive edition of the Godolphin Mile at a distance that is not his best.
“He is in good form-I like the way he is going-but this is not his distance. It is too short,” said trainer Musabbeh Al Mheiri on Wednesday morning as he watched Special Fighter gallop once around the Meydan dirt track.
“He is in the best condition, but the race is strong and there are many good horses entered. It will not be easy for him,” Al Mheiri added.
In order to help Special Fighter perform as well as possible considering the disadvantage, Al Mheiri said he plans to equip the 7-year-old with a visor to sharpen his speed. He also has been limiting Special Fighter’s morning exercise to light canters this week in order to keep the horse fresh following his last quick drill on March 23.
Special Fighter raced in both the 2016 and 2017 Dubai World Cup races and was good enough to finish fourth behind California Chrome in 2016 while ahead of accomplished American Grade 1 winners Frosted, Mshawish and Keen Ice. He was 12th behind Arrogate last year.
Rested after the 2017 Dubai World Cup, Special Fighter has finished unplaced in two starts in 2018 and is coming into the race off a fifth behind winner North America in the Al Maktoum Challenge R3 on March 10.
$1 million Dubai Gold Cup Sponsored by Al Tayer Motors (G2)
Big Orange – Having suffered from setfast after working on Monday morning, he went out for a steady canter on the Meydan training track just after 8am.
Trainer Michael Bell hot-footed it from the airport to watch the workout and he is keeping his fingers crossed that all goes to plan as Saturday approaches.
“He seems fine this morning and we just hope the setfast doesn’t reoccur, it happens after exercise. He didn’t do too much today but as long as he is OK later then he’ll have a nice breeze tomorrow,” Bell said. “He’s great in his skin and has eaten everything. He loves the sun on his back and fast ground.”
Frontiersman – Frontiersman, second to stablemate Hawkbill in the Dubai City Of Gold Sponsored by Emirates Skycargo (G2) on his last start, was another of Charlie Appleby’s Godolphin horses to have a final workout on the grass ahead of the weekend.
A winner at Newmarket in September, the 5-year-old, who is by Dubawi and out of Ouija Board, was also second to Hawkbill in the Princess Of Wales’s Stakes (G2) in July and ran second to Highland Reel in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes on Derby weekend at Epsom.
“With his pedigree we have always hoped he would deliver at the top level,” Appleby said. “We have had to take out time with him – he was unraced as a 2-year-old, we were patient with him as a 3-year-old and he had a good 4-year-old campaign with his career highlight coming when second in the Coronation Stakes.
“I stepped him up to Saturday’s distance on the all-weather in January, but we didn’t learn a great deal as he was fresh going into it, and it wasn’t a true-run race. It is not an easy 3200m around here, but it is often not the strongest-run race and if he can get a nice run round off an even tempo we will get to see if this horse can be a Cup horse for the future.”
Rare Rhythm – The 6-year-old beat the talented Vazirabad in the Nad Al Sheba Trophy (G2) on his only Meydan outing and also won on both of his two racecourse appearances in the England last summer.
They were both handicap wins but he successfully graduated into Group company last time and will be trying his hand at the top level this weekend over the 3200m.
“He had light exercise here at Marmoom this morning and will have a final blowout tomorrow morning on the grass,” trainer Charlie Appleby said. “He hasn’t stood a lot of racing through his career, but we have been happy with him since his last run, when he did beat a good horse.”
Sheikhzayedroad – A barn and fan favourite, 9-year-old Sheikhzayedroad continues to tick over like a much younger horse for trainer David Simcock.
The steady Grade 1 winning son of Dubawi, making his fifth appearance in Dubai, has shown younger stablemate Desert Encounter the ropes throughout the week with the improving stablemate slated to make his Meydan debut in the Longines Dubai Sheema Classic.
“’Sheikhy’ has been here as many times as me,” travelling head lad Ian Russell said. “He just knows his job and really seems to excel out here. He loves the heat and the one-to-one attention that he can receive out here. It keeps him quite happy.”
The Simcock duo headed to the Meydan turf course just after 7am on Wednesday morning with Sheikhzayedroad setting the pace for Desert Encounter in a reaching breeze with both horses offered a chance to stretch their legs.
Although he will be in a tough field on Saturday, Russell is confident ‘Sheikhy’ will again give a good account of himself.
“He’s a horse that gives you more than 100% and keeps on going,” Russell said. “The French horse is very good, obviously, as is the Godolphin horse.”
Torcedor – “He did a nice strong canter on the dirt track for Colm (O’Donoghue), trainer Jessica Harrington said. “He loves that surface; he really stretches out well on it. He’s very clear and happy since he arrived.
“He has come a long way in the year, from a rating from 96 to 115. The ground here will be fine, there is a lovely cushion of grass. He has progressed physically this year, too; he has become more of a man of a horse. He has drawn wide but he can make the running or sit in behind. It doesn’t make too much odds to him, the stall position. Colm knows him very well and being drawn out is okay for him.”
Vazirabad – French trainer Alain de Royer Dupré had arrived in Dubai during the night from Tuesday to Wednesday and was on hand to watch the dual Dubai Gold Cup winner Vazirabad jog around the dirt track at Meydan racecourse just after 7am.
“He went a bit faster yesterday and so today he only went round once and not too fast,” De Royer Dupré said. “He is getting older and doesn’t need much work.”
Vazirabad is attempting to become the first horse to lift the stayer’s race for the third consecutive year. He is running in a big field and his trainer said: “I am happy with the draw in five, but I also know how hard it is to win a race three times in a row. It is a big challenge and there are some good horses in the race. But I’m happy with my horse.”
$1 million Dubai Kahayla Classic sponsored by Mubadala (G1)
Nafees – French trainer Charles Gourdain is hoping that the lightly raced Nafees can win another Group 1 race when he lines up at the start. The 5-year-old colt came onto the dirt track at Meydan racecourse around 7am and cantered over 1600m.
“Nafees travelled over well,” Gourdain said. “He is very well in his head, always very relaxed and has a very good temperament. We are very lucky with that. The only question we have is the ground. We don’t know if he will like it, as he has never run on this surface before.
“He seems to have adapted, but he hasn’t had any real work on this ground and won’t have any before the race. He doesn’t need it. Also, he has actually never run left handed, so we shall see. The good thing is that he is fresh. We put him away last year with this race in mind and hopefully that will freshness will be to his advantage.”
Paddy’s Day – A 24-time winner from 40 starts for owner Quarter Moon Ranch LLC, Paddy’s Day put in a strong work this morning.
“He had a short little blow out this morning for the owner who was here and wanted to see him go. It was just two furlongs (400m) but he did it well, he did it very easy,” trainer Doug Watson said.
Watson expects to see jockey Pat Dobbs take Paddy’s Day to the point in Saturday’s 2000m test for Purebred Arabians.
“He’ll go forward. I don’t want to get caught behind horses rated 100, 105 – the lower rated horses,” Watson said. “We know he likes it over there (at Meydan), so even though he’s drawn 13 we’ll push forward and see where he lands after a furlong and let Pat make up his mind from there.”
It was a busy morning for Watson’s outfit with all seven of his Saturday starters enjoying a visit from the vet.
“The docs came by to trot them all up this morning and make sure they were good to go for World Cup night. They were all fresh and very well,” Watson said.