Dubai: The Dubai-owned Godolphin stable will be looking to get their 2013 campaign off to a strong start when they saddle their first runners on the opening night of the $37,36 million (Dh137 million) 2013 Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday.
Last season the boys in blue not only picked up the prestigious owner’s title by also saw their two trainers, Saeed Bin Surour and Mahmoud Al Zarouni, finish first and second in the championship where they won 34 races between them and amassed a staggering $13,968,900 in prize money.
And what better place to launch their bid for more riches and glory than at Meydan where they saddle runners in six of the seven races, including two in the feature race of the evening, the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1.
Bin Surour, who is seeking an unprecedented eighth success in the contest, saddles Out Of Bounds, a Darley-bred four-year-old colt who was trained by Eoin Harty in America.
Al Zarouni relies on Fulbright, who has his first start for Godolphin, having previously been trained by Mark Johnston in England where he even won the Group 2 Dubai Challenge Stakes at Newmarket in October.
The Godolphin duo face eight rivals and racing manager Simon Crisford said: “Out Of Bounds was with Godolphin before and was a promising horse in America who has been off just over a year now, but Fulbright is a new recruit.
“We are looking forward to starting off Fulbright in what looks a competitive race and the Dubai World Cup Carnival is always a very important part of our year.”
Doug Watson banks on Barbecue Eddie, twice a course and distance winner at Meydan this season, to give him a career-first win in the race.
“He has won well on both occasions and proved he stays 1,600m well. This is obviously a lot tougher but we were ruled out of the Godolphin Mile late on last year and that is his target again this year,” said the American-born handler who in 2009 saddled Green Coast to finish runner-up to My Indy in the race.
“We will find out a lot on Thursday but we have a good draw and I am looking forward to running him in this class.”
Three-time UAE champion trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe is also looking to get his hands on the Al Maktoum Challenge trophy for the first time and sends out two-time Meydan scorer Mufarrh who was a noteworthy third on his last start at the track two weeks ago.
Two-time British champion jockey Paul Hanagan, who takes the ride for his owner Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance, said of his choice: “We actually have three in the race but Mufarrh made a very pleasing comeback when third having been off the track for over a year. That was a good run as was his previous one when second in the 2011 Godolphin Mile and I expect a big run from him.”
The race has also attracted a trio of international raiders, led by the UK raider Fanunalter who was 12 behind Musir in the race 12 months ago. The Marco Botti-trained son of Falbrav went on to win the Group 2 Summer Mile Stakes at Ascot in July.
Classic-winning jockey Pat Shanahan is represented by the Thistle Bloodstock-owned Colliding Worlds, a lightly-race son of High Chaparral from Ireland, while Bahrain’s Fawzi Naas saddles Muraweg, who was third to Ganas in a handicap on his only Meydan start.
Today’s list also features the Al Rashidiya Trial, where Bin Surour looks to have strong claims with Sharestan.
Crisford commented: “Sharestan is also making his first start for us in the Al Rashidiya Trial and he too has been going well at home.
Al Raihe relies on 2010 Group 1 Dubai Duty Free winner Al Shemali while Carnival colossus Mike De Kock accounts for Rerouted.
Watson’s best chance of the meet appears to be former French Group 3 scorer So Beautiful and the trainer said: “He is a really nice horse having his first start for us and we have been looking forward to running him as he is an exciting prospect and a great addition to our yard.”
The handler also looks to have a live chance in the Group 1 Purebred Arabian version of the Maktoum Challenge Round 1 with Quite A Show, who was a course and distance winner last time out.
Watson said: “That was a good effort last time under the penalty. Again this is obviously a better race but he meets them on level terms. Areem has been in great form and Tzar Du Paon is a new horse to the Emirates with good form but we are very hopeful.”
Among Quite A Show’s rivals is 2009 Dubai Kahayla Classic winner Fryvolousand the National Day Cup victor Areem.