Dubai: If you had to draw up a list of horsemen who have sampled more success than most at Meydan Racecourse, the name Simon Crisford will without question be among the contenders.
In his previous role as Godolphin’s racing manager, Crisford was associated with some of the biggest and most prestigious winners ever seen at the Dubai World Cup Carnival.
However, the scenario changed ever since he went solo in 2015 and took up a public trainer’s licence.
Successes in Dubai have not been as abundant for the Englishman, who trains out of a satellite operation at the Grandstand 2 Stables adjoining Meydan Racecourse.
All that may be set to change at the eighth Carnival meeting on Thursday where Crisford saddles several runners with serious chances led by Century Dream (Oisin Murphy) in the Group 2 Zabeel Mile, one of three Group races that embellish an attractive six-race card.
The five-year-old son of Cape Cross makes his debut in this race, following a career-best effort when finishing third to ‘Horse of the Year’ Roaring Lion in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot in October.
Century Dream has raced in elite company and was previous a close fourth to Accidental Agent in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes also at Ascot during the Royal meeting.
Crisford commented: “We are really pleased with him and looking forward to the race.
“He’s doing absolutely fine, he’s travelled very well to Dubai and trained really well since being there. Things have gone according to plan.”
Quite clearly the class act among the eight runners in the Mile, Crisford’s charge takes on the likes of Godolphin’s Mythical Magic (William Buick), who was third in the Al Fahidi Fort on his Dubai debut last month, former Group 3 scorer Wooton (James Doyle) and Top Score (Christophe Soumillon).
Crisford is also well represented by Starry Eyes in the $250,000 (Dh918,125) UAE Oaks (G3).
A daughter of Animal Kingdon, winner of the 2013 Dubai World, Starry Eyes makes her second appearance on the dirt at Meydan having finished fifth in the Guineas.
The Oaks has been won on 10 occasions since it was first run in 2001 by Godolphin-trained fillies but French raider Silva looks the pick of the 12 runners in this year’s renewal of the season’s third Classic.
Pia Brandt’s filly was a compelling winner of the UAE 1,000 Guineas, which was used as a prep race of the Oaks by her connections and is expected to be more suited by the step up in trip to nine furlongs on Thursday.
“The distance is no problem for her,” Brandt said of the French-trained filly.
“Her [Guineas] was excellent. She was very professional and did what [jockey Oisin Murphy] told her.
“Hopefully she jumps and she runs well like that. She’s a very backwards filly, mentally, and she doesn’t give everything. She does what you tell her to do and we never really ask her to do as much as a race.”
Charlie Appleby’s Divine Image (William Buick) and the Saeed Bin Surour-trained duo of Dubai Beauty (Christophe Soumillon) and Swift Rose (Hayley Turner) finished second, fourth and 14th in the Guineas at a mile on dirt and all three re-oppose.
Godolphin send out six contenders in the Group 3 Dubai Millennium Stakes over 10 furlongs on turf include a trio from Charlie Appleby, already winners at this year’s Carnival.
First Nation (William Buick), Oasis Charm (Brett Doyle) and Spotify (James Doyle) look an impressive team for the in-form Appleby who remarked: “First Nation won well on his first start in Dubai and the form of the race has worked out well. He has done everything right since and looks the one to beat.
“Oasis Charm is a very strong traveller, who picked up nicely in a competitive handicap, and deserves to have a crack at a nice race like this.
“Spotify won over a mile and a half last time but has sharpened up for that run and we feel that dropping back to 10 furlongs is well within his compass.”