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.
“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 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.
“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!”