Mystic Guide
Mystic Guide Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News
Race 9
Dubai World Cup Sponsored By Emirates Airline (Group 1)
14 runners

Dubai: Mystic Guide many not have come through the traditional Triple Crown ranks in America, but in the absence of a worthy locally trained challenger, Michael Stidham’s four-year-old son of Ghostzapper has emerged as Godolphin’s leading hope to add to the stable’s collection of eight trophies in the $12 million Dubai World Cup on Saturday.

The Dubai-owned stable dominated the last two runnings of the 2,000m dirt contest, which celebrates its 25th Anniversary this year, with Dubai-trained Thunder Snow completing a historic double.

His handler, Saeed Bin Surour, is the most successful trainer in the race with nine wins, and relies on outsider Gifts Of Gold, who fared poorly on his dirt debut in January’s first leg of the Al Maktoum Challenge series won by Military Law, who would appear to have better claims on Saturday.

Besides Godolphin stars such as Thunder Snow, American raiders (Animal Kingdom, California Chrome and Arrogate) have done exceedingly well on the Meydan dirt and it is anticipated that Mystic Guide can follow in their illustrious footsteps

Godolphin also run French challenger Magny Cours, who faces a baptism of fire in his first dirt star at the behest of legendary handler Andre Fabre, who is looking to end his drought in the great race.

Other notables are Jesus’ Team — who was a close second to Knicks Go in the Pegasus World Cup earlier this year — Meydan scorers Military Law and Salute

The Soldier and the oddly named but hugely promising Sleepy Eyes Todd.

Given the history of the Dubai World Cup and its bias towards genuine dirt horses, you would have to give Mystic Guide the utmost respect, even if he has not won any of America’s big races.

However, he won the Group 2 Jim Dandy Stakes, was second in the Group 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup and also landed the Group 3 Razorback Handicap, three significant races on the American circuit.

Stidham said: “It’s a long trip for Mystic Guide and you always worry about the things that could go wrong but the horse seems to be really flourishing in Dubai. He is thriving on everything that is going on and is doing fantastic.

“I’m happy that he has been drawn in the middle [stall six]. Going a mile and a quarter, I would really love to see him break well and be in a stalking position. That’s where he is most comfortable.”

Commenting on the chances of Gifts Of Gold, who booked his ticket to the Dubai World Cup by winning the Red Sea Turf Handicap in Riyadh in February, Bin Surour said: “When he won by six lengths over a mile-and-a-quarter at Chelmsford City last year, it gave me the confidence to bring him out to Dubai.

“He is a big, strong horse, who worked really nicely in his final piece of work last week. I know he has a difficult draw in stall 14 but I never seem to choose a good draw in this race — it’s always stall one or the last one on the outside. Luckily, the horses have been good enough to win the race. The important thing with Gifts Of Gold is that he needs to jump well and take a nice position. If he can get close to the front from his draw, then I think he has a chance.”

Andre Fabre was confident that Magny Course will run well and said: “I really believe this horse has a lot of ability and I am confident that he can be close.” Obviously, there is a question mark about how he will adapt to the track. William Buick rode him at Sandown and that was a really good performance as he beat a Group 1 winner whilst carrying a penalty.”

One of the surprise performers during the Dubai World Cup Carnival has been the Fawzi Nass owned and trained Salute The Soldier who won both the second and third legs of the Al Maktoum Challenge while Military Law, winning of the opening leg must also warrant attention given that he performs well on the Meydan dirt.

Whichever way you look at it this year’s renewal of the Dubai World Cup is one of its most open races in recent years, Several horses have strong claims and it will be won by a horse who bring his A Game to Meydan and runs the tactical race that his jockey will be looking to ride.

It’s the Anniversary edition of the great race and one that every trainer, jockey and owner will want to win.

GN Selections

1. Magny Cours
2. Jesus’ Team
3. Salute The Soldier