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Subjectivist streaks to Dubai gold

Mark Johnston’s Subjectivist put up an impressive performance to win the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan.

The four-year-old, winner of the Group One Prix Royal-Oak on heavy ground when last seen at ParisLongchamp in October, demonstrated his adaptability on this much quicker surface, and put down a marker for all this summer’s top staying races.

Joe Fanning had the 5-1 shot prominent throughout as For The Top initially led the Group Two field.

Subjectivist took over to go clear in the straight and had a yawning five and three-quarter lengths to spare at the line – as outsiders Walderbe and Away He Goes stayed on best of the well-beaten rest to be second and third respectively.

Johnston confirmed he found Subjectivist’s dominant performance a joy to watch throughout.

“Always, from past the winning post first time I thought ‘this is perfect, I’m very happy, he’s going really well,” said the Middleham trainer.

“When he hit the front, I was thinking ‘well, I’m glad I’m not the trainer of one of the other horses!

“I just thought frankly, as proved to be the case … anybody who thinks they can go and catch this horse from back there and make up that sort of ground … I just thought it was absolutely perfect.

“It wasn’t as if he’d been running too free, or he’d been driven to the front. He eased to the front with five lengths to spare over the field, and it just couldn’t have been better.”

The trainer of former Ascot Gold Cup winners Double Trigger and Royal Rebel, and last year’s runner-up Nayef Road, believes Subjectivist could be lynchpin of a successful new era for his yard in the staying division.

Acknowledging huge respect for John Gosden’s three-time Ascot winner and title-holder Stradivarius, Johnston is nonetheless up for the challenge.

“You can never underestimate Stradivarius, because he’s beaten some fantastic horses – including Dee Ex Bee – and we thought in Dee Ex Bee, we had the absolute perfect Cup horse,” he said.

“Stradivarius made short work of him. But it’s not all about one horse, and we go into 2021 with this horse and Nayef Road – the nearest thing to Stradivarius last year – so it’s just very, very exciting.

“We love the Cup division. With Double Trigger and then Royal Rebel, we were always right up there with some of the best horses in the staying division.

“We’ve had a few relatively quiet years. But I just feel we are going into it (this year) with the best team in the world.

Goodwood Festival – Day One
Stradivarius may lie in wait for Subjectivist this summer (Dan Abraham/PA)

Fanning – making his first trip to Meydan – always felt in control on Subjectivist.

“He is a little bit keen – (but) he switched off nicely,” said the winning jockey.

“It was a nice even pace, and down the back I was going so well I just let him roll on a little bit because I knew he’d stay very well on this ground.

“I was very confident turning into the straight I had plenty left.

“I didn’t want the race to slow up, and I had so much horse before the straight. So I got a breather into him, then kicked, and was pretty comfortable.

“I’ve never been to Dubai before. I thought he had a big, strong chance – so I was glad to come over.”

Fanning had no doubts about Subjectivist on this quicker surface, either.

“Everyone thinks he wants soft, heavy ground – but I think he’s the type who’ll go on anything,” he said.

“So I was never worried about the ground here – I think he’s a very versatile horse.”

Johnston’s overdue Meydan victory came in a necessarily hushed atmosphere as coronavirus restrictions continue to limit attendances.

He added: “It doesn’t matter where we are in the world – this is not normal.

“Dubai World Cup night would normally be one of the biggest meetings in terms of attendances that we go to in the year.

“So this is very, very different – so sad for Dubai.”

In the year of the meeting’s 25th anniversary, it was also run following the death this week of Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum – deputy ruler of Dubai and owner and breeder of many of world racing’s greats over the past 30 years.

“After Sheikh Hamdan’s death, we all wondered if it could go ahead – and we were told it would, because that’s what Sheikh Hamdan would have wanted,” said Johnston.

“All the odds were stacked against there even being a race meeting tonight – and it’s the 25th anniversary. So what better time to win?”

Mystic Guide seeks to do Godolphin proud in landmark World Cup

American Mike Stidham feels honoured to be saddling the Dubai World Cup favourite Mystic Guide in the colours of Godolphin in the landmark 25th edition of the race.

Fellow countryman Bill Mott won the first renewal with Cigar in 1996 – but Mystic Guide’s owners have since been successful on eight occasions, including the two most recent with Thunder Snow.

After the cancellation last year of what would have been the 25th running, due to the coronavirus pandemic, there are three Godolphin runners this time – with Andre Fabre’s Magny Cours and Saeed bin Suroor’s Gifts Of Gold also lining up – but Mystic Guide is their main hope.

“It’s a long trip – and as a trainer you always worry about things that can go wrong – but so far it’s been really good,” said Stidham.

“He seems to be thriving here, the weather is great and the accommodation is amazing.

“I’ve taken advice from Steve Asmussen, from Scott Blasi who stables near me at the Fairgrounds, (and) they were both very helpful.

“This is my fifth year training for Godolphin, and the quality they send is amazing. I’m honoured to get the opportunity.

“The first time we worked him he was a ‘wow’ horse. I think the draw is fine, I’m happy to be there. I’d love to see him break well and be forward, in a stalking position because that is what suits him.

“It’s an honour to be here, and especially training a horse for Sheikh Mohammed on the 25th anniversary. Being owned by Godolphin, this race was always in the back of my mind.”

Andre Fabre is seeking an elusive first win in the Meydan showpiece, with the lightly-raced Magny Cours.

“Yes, he has had his issues,” said Fabre.

Magny Cours (far side) was a winner at Sandown last year
Magny Cours (far side) was a winner at Sandown last year (Francesca Altoft/PA)

“But now he is in perfect condition and form. He had an excellent journey over to Dubai – he drank up, he ate up, and everything is going well. He is six now and is just more stabilised in his body.

“I really believe this horse has a lot of ability, and I am confident that he can be close.”

Ryan Moore has picked up the mount on Title Ready for Dallas Stewart

“His stamina for this 10-furlong trip doesn’t look assured – but we do know he comes here in form, having won well last time in the Grade Three Louisana Stakes over nine furlongs,” Moore told Betfair.

“I think it is fair to say that he needs to improve a fair bit on what we saw of him in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (seventh), but nothing scares you that much in here, does it? You can’t argue too much with his draw in four, as well.”

Jesus' Team brings strong form to the race
Jesus’ Team brings strong form to the race (Mathea Kelley/Dubai Racing Club)

Jesus’ Team was second to Knicks Go in the Pegasus World Cup, which is arguably the strongest form on offer.

Trainer Jose Francisco D’Angelo said: “I like the post position (nine), because ‘Jesus’ can find a good spot to make an aggressive move in the first part.

“I asked Bob Baffert and my friend Chad Summers about preparation. They are familiar with the environment here. I took their advice and made my plan. All horses are different, and need different things to get ready. ‘Jesus’ is coming into this race perfectly.”

Musabbeh Al Mheiri’s Military Law enjoyed a fruitful Dubai Carnival, before finishing sixth behind Mishriff in the Saudi Cup.

Military Law is a Meydan regular
Military Law is a Meydan regular (Mathea Kelley/Dubai Racing Club)

“We have a good horse in Military Law. He is honest and works hard and has always shown us that in training,” said Al Mheiri.

“A good draw (five) has improved his chances, and we could not have asked for a better spot. We will look for a good break and for Antonio Fresu to get him into a good spot just off the pace so that he can give himself a good chance at the finish.”

The former Clive Cox-trained Salute The Soldier has been a revelation for Fawzi Naas – but stall 11 could be tough to overcome, according to jockey Adrie de Vries.

He said: “The draw could have been kinder, but the horse is in great form, and his final piece of serious work was very pleasing. When he works well he normally runs well – so let’s hope that is the case again!”

Dubai World Cup Trends

It was now just over 20 years ago that horse-loving and mega-rich HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum had the dream to build a new and exciting race track in the heart of Dubai and attract the world’s best thoroughbreds to race for the Dubai World Cup.

Millions of dollars of prize money provided the carrot for trainers around the globe and with the prize now upped to a whopping $10million, from $6 million, for the main race this year’s event is set to be the best yet. 2010 saw the start of a new era with the entire carnival being run for the first time at the newly built Meydan Racecourse, having previously been staged at Nad Al Sheba.

The new futuristic track has cost an estimated $2billion to build and will easily accommodate a bumper 60,000 crowd. 10,000 car park spaces make things easier for visitors, while the track has been built on 76m Sq feet and includes a 12f turf track and an 8.75 Tapeta (AW) course.

This year’s (2021) race will be run on Saturday 27th March, the final day of the Dubai Racing Carnival that runs from January and consists of around 10 meetings.

Thunder Snow has landed the last two runnings -  and in 2019 gave his jockey, Christophe Soumillion his second success in this lucrative race. When winning the 2019 Dubai World Cup this 5 year-old, that is owned by Godolphin, he became the first horse to win the Dubai World Cup more than once. but this 5 year-old is trained by Godolphin’s Saeed Bin Suroor – a trainer that’s taken this top prize a staggering nine times since the race was first run in 1996……….more than any other trainer.

US jockey Jerry Bailey is the most successful pilot in the history of the race, having landed the prize four times, while Frankie Dettori has been in the winners’ enclosure on three occasions. Looking at the winner’s age it’s the 4 year-olds that have fared best, landing 11 of the 24 (46%) runnings – with 18 of the 24 (75%) winners being aged 4 or 5 years-old. We’ve only seen two winners aged older than 6 take the big prize – African Story in 2014 and Prince Bishop, who won the race in 2015 – that last-named horse also became the oldest winner in the race’s history at 8 years-old.

The fastest time to date in the race was recorded by Dubai Millennium back in 2000, after he won in 1:59.50 – but that was obviously recorded when the race was being run at Nad Al Sheba – the fastest time at the newer track – Meydan – is currently held by Thunder Snow (2:01.38) in 2018.

To date, there has only been one GB-trained winner of the race - Sir Michael Stoute – when his Singspiel took the prize in 1997 – and, as of yet, no Irish-trained winner.

With eight wins, Godolphin Racing are the most successful owners to date, while – as mentioned - Saeed Bin Suroor is the current leading trainer in the race with 9 victories.

The main supporting races are the $5 million Dubai Duty Free and the $5 million Dubai Sheema Classic – these are the two richest races run on turf, anywhere in the world. The new race to the card is the Group 3 Al Quoz Sprint, worth $1 million. Other races on the card are the Dubai Golden Shaheen and UAE Derby, both worth $2 million, and the $1 million Godolphin Mile, while the meeting gets started with the Group 1 Dubai Kahayla Classic for Purebred Arabians.

 

Dubai World Cup Trends (Since run at Meydan 2010)

10/10 – Previous Group 1 or 2 winners
10/10 – Had raced in the last 8 weeks
9/10 – Had won over 1m2f before
8/10 – Had raced in the last 4 weeks
8/10 – Finished 1st or 2nd last time out
8/10 – Previous Group 1 winners
7/10 – Didn’t win their last race
7/10 – Officially rated between 119-123
7/10 – Aged 5 or older
7/10 – Had won at the track before
6/10 – Unplaced favourites
5/10 – Returned a double-figure price
4/10 – Came from stalls 5-8 (inclusive)
2/10 – Winning favourite
The average SP in the last 9 runnings is 11/1


Trained Dubai World Cup Winners………..

11/24 – Trained in USA
10/24 – Trained in UAE
1/24 – Trained in GB
1/24 – Trained in Japan
1/24 – Trained in France

 

Previous Dubai World Cup Winners

2020 - No race (Covid)
2019 – Thunder Snow (UAE) (5): Christophe Soumillon / Saeed Bin Suroor – 4/1
2018 – Thunder Snow (UAE) (4): Christophe Soumillon / Saeed Bin Suroor – 8/1
2017 - Arrogate (USA) (4) : Mike E Smith / Bob Baffert - 1/3 (fav)
2016 – California Chrome (USA) (5) : Victor Espinoza / Art Sherman – 15/8 (jfav)
2015 – Prince Bishop (UAE) (8) : William Buick / Saeed Bin Suroor – 14/1
2014 – African Story (UAE) (7) : Silvestre de Sousa / Saeed Bin Suroor – 12/1
2013 – Animal Kingdom (USA) (5) : Joel Rosario/ Graham Motion – 11/2
2012 – Monterosso (UAE) (5): Mickael Barzalona/M Al Zarooni – 20/1
2011 - Victoire Pisa (JPN (4): Mirco Demuro/Katsuhiko Sumii – 12/1
2010 - Gloria de Campeao (FRA) (6): T. J. Pereira/Pascal Bary – 16/1
2009 - Well Armed (USA) (6): Aaron Gryder/Eoin G. Harty – 10/1
2008 – Curlin (USA) (4): Robby Albarado/Steve Asmussen – 4/11 (fav)
2007 – Invasor (USA) (5): Fernando Jara/K McLaughlin – 5/4 (fav)
2006 – Electrocutionist (UAE) (5): Frankie Dettori/Saeed bin Suroor – 5/4 (fav)
2005 - Roses in May (USA) (5): John Velazquez/Dale Romans – 11/8 (fav)
2004 - Pleasantly Perfect (USA) (6): Alex Solis/Richard Mandella – 5/2
2003 - Moon Ballad (UAE) (4): Frankie Dettori/Saeed bin Suroor – 11/4
2002 - Street Cry (UAE) (4): Jerry Bailey/Saeed bin Suroor – 9/2
2001 - Captain Steve (USA) (4): Jerry Bailey/Bob Baffert – 7/4 (jfav)
2000 - Dubai Millennium (UAE) (4): Frankie Dettori/Saeed bin Suroor -
1999 – Almutawakel (UAE) (4): Richard Hills/Saeed bin Suroor -
1998 - Silver Charm (USA) (4): Gary Stevens/Bob Baffert -
1997 – Singspiel (GB) (5): Jerry Bailey/Michael Stoute -
1996 – Cigar (USA) (6): Jerry Bailey/Bill Mott -

 

Oisin Murphy raring to go for World Cup night

Oisin Murphy wants to “hit the ground running” as he returns to big-race action at Meydan on Saturday.

The dual British champion jockey recently resumed riding after serving a three-month suspension, partnering winners at Chelmsford and Wolverhampton last week before jetting out to Dubai for the World Cup card.

Murphy admits Meydan had been in his sights while he was sidelined.

He said: “(I’m) really pleased to be here, it’s been the target for a couple of months now. I’ve picked up a couple of rides and let’s see how they go.

“That’s what’s kept me going (riding in the big races). I’m fit and ready to kick off my season. I’d been busy before I came out here, I had a few winners so it would be nice to hit the ground running on Saturday.”

Murphy has five rides, kicking off with Urban Icon in the Godolphin Mile, with the three-times British winner now representing Saudi Arabian handler Saud Saad Alkahtani.

Murphy said: “He’s a horse I know from England when he was trained by Richard Hannon. He ran a super race in Saudi on turf and he’s switching to dirt and stepping up in distance.

“The horse is fit and he’s the highest rated in the race so if he does acclimatise to the change in conditions, hopefully he will go very well.”

Murphy then rides Royal Marine in the Dubai Gold Cup for Saeed bin Suroor, with the one-time Classic hope taking a huge hike in trip to two miles.

He said: “He’s going a long way up in distance, but he works very good and if he relaxes he can be bang there – that’s the key.

“His inside draw (one) is very good, so let’s see what Saeed thinks, although he normally gives me very good rides and it’s great to be teaming up with him again.”

Murphy also rides Lugamo in the UAE Derby and Felix in the Dubai Turf, but he is particularly relishing taking the reins aboard Japanese challenger Loves Only You in the Longines Dubai Sheema Classic.

He said: “She’s a Japanese Oaks winner, she comes into this on the back of a Grade Two victory, she’s very fit as well and this has been her plan for a long time.

“It’s nice to get the leg-up from Mr Yahagi and her owners. I’ve been lucky on Japanese horses in the past, so hopefully this one follows that routine.

“Loves Only You has been the one I’ve been concentrating on for weeks and weeks, of course I’ll do my best on all of them, but she’s a star.”

Loves Only You clashes with John Gosden’s Saudi Cup winner Mishriff in the Sheema Classic, with the British runner having been drawn widest of all in stall 10 for the mile-and-a-half contest.

Aidan O’Brien’s Mogul, conversely, has been drawn hard on the inside in stall one.

Egan counting down the hours to Mishriff in Sheema Classic

David Egan has hailed Mishriff’s versatility as the four-year-old prepares to tackle 12 furlongs for the first time in Saturday’s Longines Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan.

The four-year-old has made his second trip to the Middle East in just over a month for the Group One feature, having landed just short of £7.3million when winning the Saudi Cup – the world’s most valuable race – in Riyadh last month.

That was his second visit to Riyadh, having finished second in the Saudi Derby last February, while he achieved Group One gold in the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly in the summer before adding a Deauville Group Two to his haul.

Egan believes Mishriff’s ability to travel is testament to the strong constitution of John Gosden’s charge.

He said on Tuesday: “It’s fantastic to be connected with such a versatile, top-class horse. I saw him out on the track today, he looks well and hopefully he can do the business on Saturday.

“Mr Gosden (said) ever since he’s been back to Newmarket, he’s been full of beans and raring to go again, so they decided to make the trip back out to Meydan and I get to sit on him tomorrow, so I can kind of gauge where he’s at in comparison to Riyadh, but everything’s looking good so far.

“It’s not easy (to travel). He did all his intense training in the snow in Newmarket and it’s not easy to do, to be able to acclimatise him so quickly and turn him around to win the richest race in the world. It’s a hard thing to do and it just shows you what a versatile horse he is.

“Every time he’s run, he’s travelled. I know he went to Ascot and Newmarket (last year), but he went to France twice, to Riyadh twice and now on to Meydan, so it’s a credit to the horse and Mr Gosden’s team.”

Mishriff’s thrilling Saudi Cup win from American ace Charlatan came over nine furlongs on dirt in Riyadh, but he faces a totally different test at Meydan, running over a mile and a half on turf.

While the Prince Faisal-owned Make Believe colt is obviously no stranger to turf, he has yet to run over further than an extended 10 furlongs – but Egan thinks victory this weekend could open more avenues, including a possible crack at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in the autumn.

He said: “It’s a lot of money (on Saturday) but it’s not the be-all and end-all. It’s going to be a long season for Mishriff now. I’m sure going for the Sheema Classic rather than the Dubai World Cup was something Prince Faisal and Mr Gosden thought a lot about before deciding which race to go for.

“Obviously they have in the back of their minds how he’s going to be campaigned for this season, whether he sticks to a mile and a quarter or even drops back in trip or steps up to the mile and a half.

“If things all go well on Saturday, there’s a lot of options – maybe even the Arc at the end of the year could be the main target, but we’ll get Saturday out of the way first.”

Mishriff is the highlight of five rides for Egan at Meydan, with the jockey having picked up a fine spare aboard Joseph O’Brien’s Prix de la Foret third Speak In Colours in the Al Quoz Sprint.

Egan added: “I’m a lucky lad, I’ve got some good rides and hopefully they can all run a good race.”

Lord Glitters sparkles in Jebel Hatta

David O’Meara hailed Lord Glitters “the horse of a lifetime” after he finished with a flourish to claim victory in the Jebel Hatta at Meydan.

Almost two years on from his surprise success in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot, O’Meara’s stable stalwart was a 9-4 chance to double his top-level tally in the first of two Group One prizes up for grabs on ‘Super Saturday’ in Dubai.

Winner of the Group Two Singspiel Stakes over the course and distance in January, before finishing third in the Al Rashidiya last month, Lord Glitters was given a patient ride by Danny Tudhope – and looked booked for minor honours at best turning for home.

However, just when it seemed Eqtiraan might spring a 40-1 shock after seeing off the challenge of odds-on favourite Al Suhail, Lord Glitters could be spotted powering home and got up in the closing strides to win the day.

“I’m absolutely over the moon,” said North Yorkshire-based O’Meara.

“To win a Group One as an eight-year-old – he’s been an unbelievable horse for us. He’s the horse a lifetime, really.

“They haven’t gone very quick and he’s been wide throughout. He took a while to get going, but won well in the end.”

Lord Glitters carries the colours of the late Geoff Turnbull and his wife Sandra.

Horse RacDavid O'Meara was thrilled with the performance of Lord Glittersing – Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival – Day Four – York Racecourse
David O’Meara was thrilled with the performance of Lord Glitters (Anna Gowthorpe/PA)

O’Meara added: “It’s great for the Turnbull family. Geoff’s son runs the job now and I’m sure Geoff will be looking down very pleased.

“The horse is having a great year with two wins and a third. Matt Ennis is out there with him and is doing a great job.”

Lord Glitters finished a close third behind Japanese mare Almond Eye in the Dubai Turf in 2019.

Asked if he would have a second tilt at the World Cup night prize later this month, O’Meara said: “Why not? It’s huge money, so absolutely.

“He was third in the race two years ago. Fillies finished first, second and fourth and he was giving them all 5lb and was only beaten a length and three-quarters.”

Lord Glitters goes for Jebel Hatta gold on ‘Super Saturday’

David O’Meara is pleased Lord Glitters has no penalty to carry when he goes for Group One glory in the Jebel Hatta at Meydan on ‘Super Saturday’.

The popular eight-year-old grey had 3lb extra to carry when going down by only three-quarters of a length by Zakouski in the Group Two Al Rashidiya over this nine furlongs on his latest start.

He had beaten Charlie Appleby’s charge by three lengths when they met on level terms in the Singspiel Stakes over the course and distance in January.

“He’s in good form and he likes the track,” said O’Meara.

“He ran well there last time out with his penalty which he won’t carry this time, so I’m really happy with him.”

Lord Glitters is no stranger to Group One success, having taken the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2019.

Godolphin have won six of the last eight renewals of the nine-furlong turf feature, and three contenders this year include the Appleby-trained pair of Al Suhail and Art Du Val.

Appleby told www.godoplhin.com: “Al Suhail had a setback after winning at Newmarket and subsequently we have had our eye on a Dubai campaign for him.

“His preparation has gone well and he did a nice racecourse gallop at Meydan last week. We are hoping that he can run a decent race with an eye on going on to the Group One Dubai Turf later in the month, so we expect him to come on for the run.

“We have no doubt about his ability to run at this level, but he just needs to keep his head together.

“Art Du Val ran a creditable race over this course and distance in the Singspiel Stakes and was also very competitive in the Zabeel Mile last time out.

“We think the return to nine furlongs is going to suit and, while he doesn’t look out of place in the field, he will need to up his game again to be in the mix.”

Royal Marine, trained by Saeed bin Suroor, is Godolphin’s other contender.

“Royal Marine always works well in the mornings, when he shows some real class, but we would like him to start displaying it again in his races,” said Bin Suroor.

“He has won at this level in the past, but it’s a case of seeing how he gets on.”

Nigel Tinkler has his fingers crossed Acklam Express will stay the six furlongs of the Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint.

The three-year-old has only run over five furlongs, but gave the impression the extra distance would be within his compass when staying on well to finish second behind Equilateral on his Meydan debut two weeks ago.

“We’re keeping our fingers crossed he’ll get the six. If he does, he’ll run well. He was staying on last time and you never know unless you try it,” said Tinkler.

“The horse is enjoying it. Rowan Scott is riding him out every day and he’s very well and we’re looking forward to Saturday.

“If he does gets six, it opens up a lot of options throughout the year.”

Godolphin are again three-handed, with Royal Crusade and Man Of Promise representing the Appleby team.

Appleby said: “Royal Crusade won a strong sprint in France on his latest start and any sign of his three-year-old form will make him very competitive. We have one eye on the Al Quoz Sprint for him and we are hoping for some marked improvement on whatever he does here.

“Man Of Promise has done nothing wrong in his short career and was very impressive in the Dubai Sprint. He is stepping up to Group company and needs to find a bit more again, which we are quietly confident he will do based on his work at home.”

Bin Suroor is responsible for Final Song and said: “Final Song ran a very good race over this distance last time out and six furlongs seems to be her trip now. I have been pleased with her work and I’m looking for another good result.”

Bin Suroor is looking forward to running Dubai Mirage on dirt for the first time in round three of the Al Maktoum Challenge.

The son of Dubawi has filled the runner-up spot in turf handicaps on both his Meydan starts this year and won on his only previous all-weather outing, at Kempton in June.

Bin Suroor said: “Dubai Mirage has run well on the turf so far this season, finishing second on both occasions, and we wanted to give him a chance on the dirt. This will be a very tough race, but he has been going nicely at home.”

Dubai Mirage can expect strong competition from the likes of Doug Watson’s Thegreatcollection, runner-up in the two previous rounds, and the Fawzi Abdulla Nass-trained Salute The Soldier, winner of round two and third in round one.

Naval Crown holds off Master Of The Seas in Dubai

Charlie Appleby was not too disheartened to see his 2000 Guineas hope Master Of The Seas suffer defeat at the hands of lesser-fancied stablemate Naval Crown on Thursday.

Paddy Power pushed the Superlative Stakes winner out to 25-1 from 16s for the Newmarket Classic, with the winner into 40s from 66-1.

Appleby felt Master Of The Seas, who signed off as a juvenile with a very creditable two-length fourth to Thunder Moon in the National Stakes at the Curragh, will benefit from having the freshness knocked out of him when he returns to Europe.

Naval Crown, third in the UAE Guineas three weeks ago, set out to make all in the Meydan Classic over a mile under Mikael Barzalona and while Master Of The Seas cruised up, he could not reel the winner in.

“Naval Crown was a Group-level two-year-old and we obviously thought he was up to that level at two,” said Appleby.

“We weren’t planning to run him in the (UAE) Guineas, but he was working nicely on the dirt so we thought we’d run him and he ran a solid race.

“Coming back to turf was always going to be in his favour and he came into the race fit and with conditions to suit. He’s gone and done it nicely.

“I personally think we’ll come back in trip when we get back to Europe. Something like the Jersey Stakes, he’s got plenty of speed.

“I was pleased with Master Of The Seas, he’s very much a work in progress.

“He was very keen in the National Stakes and he’s shown signs of that at home, the lads have done a good job in getting him to relax but he’s fresh and well and showed that.

“With Master of Seas – he is fresh and well, and he showed that this evening. William (Buick) said he will come on a bundle for that. At least he learnt something this evening, William got him into a rhythm, he was here to win his race, but he got tired down the straight, but I am happy we got him out. He is very much a work in progress for Europe.”

Appleby and Buick were also on the mark with Star Safari in the Dubai Millennium Stakes.

Frankie Dettori is enjoying a fine Carnival meeting and was yet again seen to great effect, this time on Saeed bin Suroor’s Volcanic Sky in the Nad Al Sheba Trophy.

Dettori took the race by the scruff of the neck at halfway and stole an advantage he just about clung on to, as Global Heat closed to within a short head.

“I took it up halfway round the turn when the leader dropped away and I got first run on the others,” said Dettori.

“He kind of lost concentration at the end but he’s been running well all season and deserved a big one.”

Seas aiming to Master Meydan Classic rivals

Master Of The Seas limbers up for a potential tilt at the 2000 Guineas in the Meydan Classic in Dubai on Thursday.

The son of Dubawi looked a top-class colt in the making after winning on his first two career starts at Newmarket last summer, including a Group Two success in the Superlative Stakes in July.

Charlie Appleby’s charge, who was last seen finishing a close-up fourth in the National Stakes at the Curragh in September, is a best-priced 16-1 for the first British Classic of the year at Newmarket in May ahead of facing five rivals at Listed level at Meydan.

“Master Of The Seas is well clear on ratings and we know that he is the class horse in the race,” Appleby told www.godolphin.com.

“Any sign of last year’s performances is going to make him very hard to beat, although this is very much a prep race ahead of his European campaign.

“We were tip-toeing away with him and he was doing everything nicely at home, so I felt that I would rather give him a run at Meydan.

“We are looking at the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. Hopefully he can get a nice run under his belt before heading back to Europe.”

Master Of The Seas is joined by stablemate Naval Crown, who finished third in the UAE 2000 Guineas three weeks ago.

Appleby added: “Naval Crown has race fitness behind him, having produced a creditable performance in the UAE 2000 Guineas.

“Reverting back to the turf is going to be more to his liking and, if Master Of The Seas doesn’t run up to form, Naval Crown is a horse who could pick up the pieces.”

Mayehaab, Sharp Spun, Yurman and Nibras Passion are the other hopefuls.

Appleby also saddles strong contenders in the two Group Threes on the card.

In the Nad Al Sheba Trophy, the Moulton Paddocks handler runs Ispolini, who needs to raise his game following a couple of below-par efforts so far this year.

“Ispolini has just been struggling to find his form lately – but he is a past winner of this race and any rekindling of that old form is going to put him bang there,” said Appleby.

Ispolini is one of four Godolphin representatives in the one-mile-six-furlong contest along with Saeed bin Suroor’s trio of Global Heat, Volcanic Sky and Brilliant Light.

Volcanic Sky, Global Heat and Ispolini finished second, third and fourth respectively behind the Bin Suroor-trained Dubai Future in the Meydan Cup earlier in the month.

Appleby’s Star Safari will be a hot favourite for the Dubai Millennium Stakes off the back of a course-and-distance win a fortnight ago, with Bin Suroor fielding Bedouin’s Story, Dream Castle and Royal Marine.

“Coming back in trip doesn’t concern us with Star Safari as he broke the track record for this distance at the Carnival last year,” said Appleby.

“He came out of his recent handicap win in good form and we are hoping that he can run a big race in this company.”

Bedouin’s steps up for Zabeel Mile challenge

Frankie Dettori is back aboard Bedouin’s Story as he steps up in class for the Zabeel Mile following his last-gasp win in a handicap at Meydan three weeks ago.

The Italian was seen at his very best on the six-year-old, who had been off the track for well over a year.

Having entered the home straight almost last in the 16-runner affair, Dettori timed it to perfection, winning by a nose.

“He was too far back in the race, but we had Frankie on who gave him a good ride,” said trainer Saeed bin Suroor.

“Luckily, he got a clear run all the way and he got there.

“This time he is in a better race – it’s a Group Two, so it’s a big step up for him.

“We’ll give him a chance at this level and see how he gets on, he’s already had a run so he’s fit.

“I don’t think so much he needs a big field, usually at the Carnival they are good races, strongly run, and that suits him.”

Dettori’s mount is likely to have most to fear from Charlie Appleby’s duo of Art Du Val and D’bai. Appleby also runs Velorum.

D’bai seen in winning action at Haydock last summer
D’bai seen in winning action at Haydock last summer (Steve Davies/PA)

Appleby said: “D’Bai ran a very good race in the Al Fahidi Fort and the return to 1600 metres (a mile) is not a concern as he won over the trip as a young horse. We think the trip will suit him at this stage of his career.

“The 1800m (nine furlongs) looked slightly too far for Art Du Val in the Singspiel, so the drop back 200m should be in his favour.

“Velorum needed the comeback run in the Al Fahidi Fort and has improved from it. We think he can be competitive at this level.”

The Group Two Balanchine sees Appleby’s Althiqa and Summer Romance take on Bin Suroor’s Dubai Love and Last Look, with the Roger Varian-trained Stylistique also in the mix.

A’Ali, Caspian Prince, Equilateral, Lazuli, Waady and Nigel Tinkler’s Acklam Express face off in a fascinating Meydan Sprint.

Zakouski stars in Meydan treble for Appleby and Buick

Charlie Appleby and William Buick took the honours with a treble at Meydan on Thursday, highlighted by Zakouski’s success in the Al Rashidiya.

The five-year-old had been beaten by Lord Glitters over the course and distance three weeks ago, but turned the tables in comprehensive fashion.

Buick had Zakouski well-positioned just off the pace set by Court House, before moving the Shamardal gelding off the rail early in the straight to make his move.

Quickening into the lead, Zakouski (10-11 favourite) went on to win by three-quarters of a length from Court House, who just held Lord Glitters for the second spot.

Appleby said: “I’m delighted. He’s definitely stepped forward for his first run. I felt that race became a bit disjointed.

“Coming into this evening we felt there would be more of a sensible pace and William got a lovely ride out there.

“We’ve stepped him up in trip there so we will probably look at the Jebel Hatta on Super Saturday as a semi-final for World Cup night.”

Zakouski was cut to 7-1 from 10-1 for the Dubai Turf on World Cup night with Paddy Power.

The red-hot combination got the meeting off to the best possible start when Star Safari (5-2 joint-favourite) took the Emirates Sky Cargo Handicap.

Star Safari was produced late to score by three-quarters of a length after two of Appleby’s other runners in the mile-and-a-half contest, Saqqara King and Al Dabaran, had made the running.

Secret Protector looked a bright prospect when landing the odds in cosy fashion to give the pair a quick double in the Meydan Trophy.

The 4-11 favourite led a furlong and a half from home and bounded clear to win by five and a half lengths from Areen.

The War Front colt had looked very promising in both his starts at Kempton and could be set for a good campaign on turf in the UK.

“I think he’s going to be one of the horses that is going to be towards the forefront of our three-year-old squad,” said Appleby.

“He’d have gained a lot of confidence this evening and physically he’s improving week on week. We’ll go back and look at the options. We’ve got something like the Feilden over nine furlongs at Newmarket.

“William said he could come back in trip. Personally I think he could be a nice 10-furlong horse for 2021.

“We’ve had a good night and we’ve had a few get beat as well. It shows how strong the competition is at the Carnival.”

Secret Protector was given a quote of 50-1 for the 2000 Guineas with Paddy Power.

Salute The Soldier (11-2) put himself into contention for the Dubai World Cup with victory in round two of the Al Maktoum Challenge.

Third in round one three weeks earlier, the Fawzi Nass-trained six-year-old was always in a good position behind the pace-setting Capezzano.

Adrie De Vries kicked on a furlong and a half out, but the strong gallop started to tell and he was all out to hold Thegreatcollection by a length.

De Vries said: “He hit the front soon enough. He always just does enough. He was getting very tired towards the end, but he was entitled to. We went fast and the ground is riding a bit deep.

“Hopefully we can now go for the big one (Dubai World Cup) with this horse. He has to step up again, but I think he will learn from today.

“He’s a late maturer and there is still room for improvement.”

The John Gosden-trained Dubai Warrior was awash with sweat before the race and was never at the races. Pushed along from the start, he was eased down by Frankie Dettori when well-beaten some way from home.

Bin Suroor eyeing big-race opportunities for Soft Whisper

Saeed bin Suroor is considering options in Dubai and Saudi Arabia for his exciting filly Soft Whisper.

Runner-up on her first two starts in Britain last season, the daughter of Dubawi made it third time lucky at Salisbury in August before following up at Pontefract the following month.

She has taken her game to another level since arriving in Dubai this winter – making a successful dirt debut in the UAE 1000 Guineas Trial at Meydan shortly after the turn of the year, before producing a brilliant display in the UAE 1000 Guineas itself under Frankie Dettori.

Bin Suroor said: “She is entered in the UAE Oaks and also the Saudi Derby. She’s in both races and we will keep options open.

“She is a good filly and unbeaten in Dubai. She won the Guineas Trial and also the Guineas under Frankie. She won both races really well and has come back good from her last race.

“We’re looking forward to the future with her.”

In the immediate aftermath of his filly’s latest triumph, Bin Suroor mooted the Kentucky Oaks in America and even the European Classic races as potential long-term targets.

He added: “We’ll go step-by-step with her and see how she runs in her next race.”

Dubai Warrior primed for Maktoum Challenge

Dubai Warrior bids to add to his six all-weather victories when he tackles dirt for the first time in round two of the Maktoum Challenge at Meydan on Thursday.

Trainer John Gosden is optimistic the surface will not pose a problem to the five-year-old, whose biggest success so far came in the Winter Derby at Lingfield last February.

The son of Dansili will have the services of Frankie Dettori, who is the most successful jockey in the history of a race inaugurated in 1994 with five victories and currently leads the way at this year’s Dubai Carnival. 

“He has been pleasing in his work and works nicely enough on the dirt. Obviously a race is a different matter, so we will find out if he handles it Thursday,” said Gosden.

Among Dubai Warrior’s opposition is Uruguayan raider Ajuste Fiscal, who was fifth to Military Law in round one of the Maktoum Challenge three weeks ago.

Trainer Antonio Cintra Pereira said: “We were very pleased with that first run and the longer trip will suit. We still hope he is a Dubai World Cup horse.” 

Three other horses from round one – Thegreatcollection (second), Salute The Soldier (third) and Capezzano (seventh) – renew rivalry.

Thegreatcollection’s trainer Doug Watson said: “We have been keen to step him up from 1600m, so this is the ideal opportunity.

“Obviously it is a good race to stretch him out. I think it will suit him, but it is a strong race.” 

Blown By Wind (left) seen here at Newmarket
Blown By Wind (left) seen here at Newmarket (Edward Whitaker/PA)

Capezzano is one of three runners from Salam bin Ghadayer’s stable along with Blown By Wind and Firnas.

Bin Ghadayer said: “Blown By Wind delighted us at Jebel Ali and has been working well since. Capezzano is also going nicely at home, we just need him to transfer that back to the course. 

“Firnas too is in good shape. He is tough and consistent.” 

Lord Glitters (right) represents David O'Meara
Lord Glitters (right) represents David O’Meara (Tim Goode/PA)

David O’Meara’s Lord Glitters will attempt to follow up a recent course and distance triumph in the Al Rashidiya.

The admirable eight-year-old lifted the Group Two Singspiel Stakes in convincing fashion three weeks ago. He has a 3lb penalty to defy in a race monopolised by British-trained runners.

O’Meara said: “That was brilliant in the Singspiel – to travel an eight-year-old and win a big prize was just great. The penalty does not help, but he has remained in great form.” 

Saeed bin Suroor (left) and Charlie Appleby both have runners for Godolphin
Saeed bin Suroor (left) and Charlie Appleby both have runners for Godolphin (Edward Whitaker/PA)

Godolphin have won this Group Two contest for the last four years and have two contenders this time in the Charlie Appleby-trained Zakouski and Saeed bin Suroor’s Dream Castle. They were second and third respectively behind Lord Glitters in the Singspiel.

Appleby said: “We were obviously pleased with Zakouski’s first outing of the year in the Singspiel Stakes, when he produced a good effort. He has come on for that run and a slightly improved performance should put him bang there.” 

Bin Suroor said of Dream Castle: “He ran very well last time and came out of the race in great form. The 1800 metres at Meydan is ideal for him and we expect another big run.” 

David Simcock’s Bless Him, the Ed Walker-trained Cap Francais, Simon Crisford’s Court House and Ralph Beckett’s Kinross complete the seven-strong field.

Mouheeb swoops late in UAE 2000 Guineas

Mouheeb provided jockey Ryan Curatolo with his first winner at Meydan in the UAE 2000 Guineas.

Just touched off in the trial by Charlie Appleby’s Rebel’s Romance, who is now heading to the big meeting in Saudi Arabia, Mouheeb got up close home to deny the brave front-runner Meshakel, formerly trained by Mark Johnston.

Mouheeb may also make the short trip to Saudi next – but should that race come too soon, he is likely to be a warm order in the UAE Derby.

French trainer Nicholas Bachalard, who won the UAE 1000 Guineas with Nashmiah in 2017, said the decision will rest with owner Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum.

“We didn’t think the pace would be that strong and (thought) that he would sit closer to the pace,” said Bachalard.

“Thankfully the horse ran Meshakel down at the right time, and I’m delighted. Hopefully he’s paid back some of the trust the owner has put in us.

“We have a few choices now, straight to the UAE Derby, or he still holds a nomination for the Saudi Derby – which is only 16 days away. It depends on what Sheikh Ahmed wants to do.

“I’m very pleased for Ryan – since he came to the stable, he’s been nothing but positive.”

It has not taken Saeed bin Suroor and Frankie Dettori long to slip back into the old routine of regularly winning races together since they resumed their partnership.

Riding Dubai Future in the Meydan Cup, the Italian came out well on top in a race dominated by Godolphin runners – with the first five sporting all blue.

Riding his fifth winner of the Carnival already, Dettori said: “Obviously he ran a good race last time (second). I wasn’t sure who to follow, so I gave myself plenty of options, got him on the outside.

“He was a true professional – he’s got a very good mind on him for a racehorse.”

Secret Ambition won the Group Three Firebreak Stakes at the third time of asking, having finished second in the last two renewals.

The eight-year-old pulled well clear close home under Tadhg O’Shea for Satish Seemar – but the race was marred by an injury to the favourite Matterhorn, who had been well fancied for the World Cup.

O’Shea said: “He’s danced every dance, but a lot of credit goes to Shane Ryan and his team who have done a lot of work with him.

“He probably would have won more races if he was more tractable away from the gate, but he tends to miss it a lot.

“Shane and his crew have done a lot of work with him, along with Satish and his team. It’s all coming together now.

“We might stretch out in trip, and if he doesn’t he’ll be rock solid in the Godolphin Mile.”

Dettori and Bin Suroor had to settle for the runner-up spot with Final Song in the Listed Dubai Sprint – but there was still another Godolphin winner on the card as William Buick prevailed by three lengths on Appleby’s Man Of Promise.

After the gelding’s second victory on his fourth career start, and first at Meydan, Buick said: “He’s a lovely, neat horse.

“He showed a little bit more speed than what I expected today.

“He travelled beautifully, and had a little look around in front, but it was a nice performance – and he can only go on from here.”

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.

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.