Dubai: Barney Roy, Cross Counter and Ghaiyyath all have something in common.
All three are trained by Godolphin’s Charlie Appleby and are also the international favourites for the respective races that they are entered in for Saturday’s landmark 25th Dubai World Cup meeting at Meydan.
Yes, the $12 million Dubai World Cup is going on — albeit without spectators, behind closed doors and under the strictest health and safety regulations stipulated by the UAE Government in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
It will probably make no difference should Appleby be a trifle late in arriving at Meydan for the $35 million, nine-race extravaganza which is schedule to start at 3.45pm with the Dubai Kahayla Classic for Purebred Arabians, because he will only swing into action for the third race at 4.50pm, the $1.5 million Dubai Gold Cup.
In this race, the longest of the evening and which is run over a gruelling 3,200 metres, the Englishman who trains out of the Marmoom Stables on the Al Ain road, has genuinely strong claims.
Not only does he saddle the ante-post favourite and Melbourne Cup winner Cross Counter, he is also represented by the two-time Meydan scorer and German St Leger hero Ispolini.
Godolphin pilots William Buick and James Doyle will partner the Appleby pair respectively.
“Cross Counter’s come back from Saudi well and definitely come forward for that run,” Appleby told the Emirates Racing Association. “Ispolini will go in there first up, all being well. His homework has been very good. He’s a horse we know we can get fit first up, so we have two live contenders there.”
In the next race, the $2m Al Quoz Sprint, Appleby puts his hopes on a pair of honest turf sprinters, Glorious Journey and Mubtasim who were first and third in the Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort late January, who he hopes could be big players.
American trained Wildman Jack sets the standard here taking into considering his very impressive 4 ½ length victory in the Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint.
Appleby then can allow himself a cup of coffee, and perhaps even a croissant should he chose, as he has no runners in races five and six, the $2.5m UAE Derby and $2.5m Dubai Golden Shaheen.
But, he would do well not to get too comfortable at the trainer’s lounge, as race seven brings up one of the biggest chances of the evening in the form of the exciting Barney Roy who runs in the $6 million Dubai Turf
Returning from an unsuccessful career at stud, Barney Roy has wasted no time to pick up the gauntlet and begin his racing renaissance with smashing victories in the Group 2 Al Rashidiya and Jebel Hatta. Performance that showed that he has not lost any of his edge.
He will be joined by up-and-comer Magic Lily in the Dubai Turf.
“He’s really in tip-top order, which is good,” said Appleby. “Magic Lily is doing very well out of the Jebel Hatta and will also go in there, all being well.”
The Dubai Turf paves the way for the $6 million Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) a race which Appleby looks to have locked in already with his international star, Ghaiyyath, the winner of six of nine starts including the Group 2 Dubai Millennium Stakes at Meydan in February.
A astute but expensive ($1.1m) purchase as a foal in 2015, Ghaiyyath laid the marker for the Sheema Classic with a thumping 8 ½ length victory.
All in all, at the end of the day, Appleby could be driving home with a lot of silverware in his 4x4 and perhaps even with an armed escort, given the amount of money that he should have won.