Naval Crown makes surface switch for UAE 2000 Guineas bid

Charlie Appleby is looking forward to seeing Naval Crown tackle a dirt surface for the first time in the UAE 2000 Guineas at Meydan.

After running with credit on his first two career starts at Newmarket and Ascot in the summer, the Dubawi colt made it third time lucky with a runaway victory in the Convivial Maiden at York’s Ebor Festival.

Naval Crown went on to be placed in a couple of Group Three races in France and makes his Dubai debut in Thursday’s Group Three feature.

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Speaking in a stable tour for Attheraces.com, Appleby said: “He is untried on the dirt, but he ticks a couple of the boxes in respect that he takes a nice level of form into the race with experience and what he has shown us on the turf is a lot of natural gate speed.

“As we know, it is something that is a positive on that surface and if he can switch his turf form to that dirt surface, he is obviously going to be a big player on Thursday night.”

Naval Crown has upwards of 9lb in hand over his five rivals on official ratings. His biggest threat looks to be Mouheeb, who made a winning debut at Jebel Ali in December before being touched off by the Appleby-trained Rebel’s Romance in last month’s UAE 2000 Guineas Trial.

Of the latter, Appleby added: “He goes for the Saudi Derby and he would have a bit to find on ratings, but his profile is going the right way and he deserves a chance there.

“We are looking forward to seeing him run.”

The other Group Three on the card is the Firebreak Stakes, for which Matterhorn is a red-hot favourite.

An eight-time winner when trained in Britain by Mark Johnston, the six-year-old has been off the track since claiming Group One glory for Salem bin Ghadayer in round three of the Al Maktoum Challenge last March.

There is plenty of British and Irish interest on the undercard, with Ed Walker’s Desert Doctor a leading hope for the opening six-furlong handicap and Ken Condon’s Could Be King and the Charlie Hills-trained Fleeting Prince in contention for the Dubai Sprint.

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