Dubai: The first of the 2012-2013 UAE Classics takes place at Meydan on Thursday night, with Mahmoud Al Zarouni bidding for back-to-back wins in the UAE 1000 Guineas (Listed) as his Godolphin teammate Saeed Bin Surour also goes in search of an unprecedented eighth success in the race that was first run in 2001.
Between them, the all-conquering Emirati handlers account for four of the 10 runners, with jockey bookings indicating that Al Zarouni’s Music Chart and Bin Surour’s Shuruq, who fought out the finish in the trials three weeks ago, being their primary contenders. Exciting French rider Mickael Barzalona, fresh from his stupendous victory in the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’s (G1) in Saudi Arabia, once again partners with Music Chart while Brazilian ace Silvestre De Sousa takes the ride on the Shuruq.
However, a major threat to Godolphin’s dominance in the fillies’ contest lurks in the form of South African filly Emotif, who her champion trainer Mike de Kock holds in very high regard. The Giant’s Causeway three-year-old impressed no end when recording a runaway victory on her debut in South Africa last May.
De Kock, who won the 1000 Guineas in 2011 with Mahbooba, expects a big run and said: “Emotif is a very smart filly and we think a helluva lot of her. She had a problem when she arrived in Dubai after travelling from South Africa, suffering from azuturia or ‘tying up’, which kept her out of training for a while.
“We’ve done as much as we can do with her though, she’s showing us a lot and we’re expecting her to be a huge runner.”
Big-race Belgian rider Christophe Soumillon will be in the irons.
Al Zarouni won this race 12 months ago with the brilliant Gamilati and is equally bullish about the chances of his runners.
“Music Chart won the trial nicely and has come on for that outing. The step up to a mile will suit her and I am hopeful that she can run a big race.
“Lovely Pass showed a good level of form in Britain last season and she is fit and well. She will come on for the appearance but she should run her race.”
Shuruq was beaten just three quarters of a length by Music Chart in the trial and Bin Surour remains optimistic about her chances. “Shuruq needed her first run of the year and she has improved since then,” said the handler who last won the Guineas in 2010 with Siyaadah. “She is in good form and will enjoy the step up to a mile.”
On his second runner Mar Mar, who was fourth in the trial, Bin Surour said: “Mar Mar never shows a great deal in her work but she ran a nice race in the Guineas trial. I hope that the return to a racecourse will see her in a better light again.”
The Mark Johnston-trained Pure Excellence, already the winner of three races from eight stars, deserves a shout and should be in the mix.