Dubai: Michael Stidham could strike gold on his first overseas venture on Saturday night after his already heavily backed Godolphin star Mystic Guide enhanced his chances in the Group 1 $12 million Dubai World Cup by claiming one of the prime leaping spots during Wednesday’s Post Position Draw at Meydan.
After the dour-year-old Ghostzapper colt drew Gate No .6, Stidham revealed his stable star has stepped up his act several levels since touching down in Dubai.
Owned by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Godolphin and speaking immediately after the draw, Stidham said: “He travelled well and has improved a lot since arriving in Dubai and is doing really well here.”
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Stidham’s announcement might have been ominous for most of Mystic Guide’s 13 rivals in the 2,000m contest on Meydan’s dirt track. Two from the opposition are his teammates and will also carry the royal blue silks of Godolphin, who have flexed their muscle in the race by summoning Saeed Bin Surour’s Gifts Of Gold and Godolphin France handler Andre Fabre’s Magny Cours, who weren’t as lucky as their American counterpart in the draw and will have to ensure they burst forward when the gates fly open after drawing Stall Nos. 14 and 12 respectively.
Bin Suroor’s Gifts Of Gold won the Red Sea Turf Handicap on the Saudi Cup undercard at Riyadh in February, while Fabre’s Magny Cours has won his last three starts, including the Prix Darshaan, a 1,900m Conditions event on the all-weather at Chantilly.
Bin Suroor is confident of his charge putting in a good performance although he did admit he would have preferred to draw better. Bin Suroor and Christophe Soumillon, who will ride Gifts Of Gold, are looking to complete a treble of Dubai World Cup wins after landing the 2018 and 2019 editions with Thunder Snow.
“The draw is not the best, but the horse is doing good and he can jump well from the stalls. I’m happy with the way he trained after he came back from Saudi,” Bin Suroor said. “He has run well over a mile and a quarter in the past and we are looking forward to seeing him run well.”
Four UAE-based trainers are represented by five horses in the race. Salem bin Ghadayer’s pair Capezzano and Hypothetical have drawn Gates 7 and 2 respectively, with the Emirati handler singling out Hypothetical as a real prospect. “The horse was bought as a yearling and race by race he’s shown improvement and he should run a big race: he’s in form. Capezzano is a consistent horse for the yard, and is doing well too,” Bin Ghadayer said.
“Hypothetical has been training well and looks in good shape going into the race and we hope he will do well because he has good potential and can make an impact if he runs his race.”
Capezzano lines up beside Fawzi Nass’ Salute The Soldier, winner of the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 on Super Saturday, the course and distance equivalent of the Dubai World Cup. That win followed the six-year-old Sepoy gelding’s triumph in the second round of the Al Maktoum Challenge, which carries Group 2 status, and Nass will be hoping he can make it three in three on the biggest night in UAE racing.
Salute The Soldier will be ridden by Adrie de Vries, who partnered him in the aforementioned contests. De Vries said: “The horse has been doing well and we have a good feeling because he always works hard and is honest and he seemed to have a lot more left in the tank during his two previous runs. So we will always be hopeful with him.”
Musabbeh Al Mheiri sounded confident after his Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge R1 winner Military Law drew Gate No. 5. Military Law finished sixth in the Saudi Cup at Riyadh last month and his handler is confident he will come forward for that experience. “I am very happy with the draw. This is perfect and I just couldn’t have asked for a better position for him to start. If he jumps out well and Antonio Fresu can get him into a good position just off the pace then we have every reason to believe he will be in a good position to contest the finish. He will work for the last time on Thursday and we will have him ready for race day,” Al Mheiri said.
The last of the UAE acts is Doug Watson’s Thegreatcollection, who finished second and then fourth behind Salute The Soldier in the second and fourth rounds respectively.
Thegreatcollection’s owner Zaur Sekrekov was present at the draw and said: “He has improved constantly from race to race and we hope he runs a big race this time.”
As far as the rest of the American contingent is concerned, Dallas Stewart’s Title Ready will leaps out of Gate No. 4 and Miguel Angel Silva’s Sleepy Eyes Todd drew Gate No. 10, while Jesus’ Team, trained by Jose D’Angelo, jumps out of No. 9.
Uruguayan representative Ajuste Fiscal, trained by Antonio Cintra Pereira, has drawn Gate 13, and completing the line up from Gate No. 3 is Japan’s Chuwa Wizard, trained by Ryuji Okubo.
Dubai World Cup Post Position Order
1 Great Scot
3 Chuwa Wizard
4 Title Ready
5 Military Law
6 Mystic Guide
9 Jesus’ Team
10 Sleepy Eyes Todd
11 Salute The Soldier
12 Magny Cours
13 Ajuste Fiscal
14 Gifts Of Gold