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Al Zarouni must be relishing the prospect of big sprint success

Mental’s strength leaves trainer with two real contenders for Dubai World Cup

Gulf News

Mahmoud Al Zarouni looks to have not one but two exciting sprinting prospects to drool over following former Australia-based Mental’s attention-grabbing victory in the Al Shindagha Sprint (G3) at Meydan on Thursday.

The former Peter Snowden-trained five-year-old has undoubtedly advertised his claims for a possible shot at the Dubai Golden Shaheen on Dubai World Cup night with that blistering performance, where he effortlessly swept past Mike de Kock’s Kavanahg, to win full of running.

Al Zarouni has already had the honour of welcoming the ex-Kiaran McLaughlin-trained Emcee to his Marmoom Stables and must now be relishing the prospect of giving Godolphin a first sprint success on Dubai World Cup night with either one, or both of the sprinters he now has under his wing.

Both Mental and Emcee arrive in Dubai with impressive credentials and if everything goes well and according to plan they should be at the forefront of the team that Al Zarouni will be putting together for the big day on March 30.

While we don’t know just how well Emcee handles the track at Meydan, I was hugely swayed by Mental’s run, considering he has only recently arrived in Dubai from Snowden’s Darley Crown Lodge in New South Wales.

Interestingly, Snowden was celebrating a major milestone on the same day that Mental won at Meydan, when he trained his 1000th winner for His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, when Sail won at Gosford.

Snowden has frequently supplied Godolphin with some top sprinters in recent years although the likes of Sepoy, Helmet and Kidnapped have not trained on since leaving Australian shores for Dubai and the UK.

However, Mental looks like a horse who can set the record straight and give Godolphin a much sought-after major sprint trophy at their home base in seven weeks’ time.

When I spoke to Al Zarouni after the race he sounded pretty excited at the prospect of training a high-quality horse like Mental, although he did admit, in a lighter vein, though, that he’s not all that good at training sprinters.

Al Zarouni also indicated that since the plan would be to run in the Golden Shaheen he would like to give Mental a prep-race on turf, prior to that test. Which means we could next see Mental line-up to contest the Meydan Sprint over 1000m on Super Saturday, and perhaps not the Mahabl Al Shimaal, which is run over an extra two furlongs, but on the Tapeta.

The ante-post markets for the Golden Shaheen have not yet been activated, but for sure the likes of Mental, Emcee, Mizdirection, the dazzling winner of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, Starspangledbanner, who won both the July Cup and Golden Jubilee Stakes two seasons ago, and Krypton Factor will be very prominent.