Dubai: Dubai World Cup Carnival action continues at Meydan on Thursday night with a stunning six-race card that features a Group 2 double-header in the form of the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 and the Al Rashidiya.
The dirt-ran Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 is held over the course and distance of the 1,900m Group 2 UAE Derby, but is often a contest that helps highlight potential aspirants for the showpiece Dubai World Cup. And there are quite a few top local names that could get into the mix going forward, but first they must find a way to oppose legendary English conditioner John Gosden’s Dubai Warrior, who is clearly the one to beat in the field of 10.
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The five-year-old Dansili colt will carry multiple Dubai World Cup winner Frankie Dettori, who rode him to success in the Group 3 Winter Derby Stakes on the Lingfield all-weather last February. Gosden’s charge has been wintering in Dubai since January and should have acclimatised well with Meydan’s dirt by now with Gosden quite confident at the time of the horse’s departure.
“Dubai Warrior worked nicely on the Al Bahathri Polytrack before flying to Dubai. The Maktoum Challenge is staged on dirt, which will be new to him, but there’s no reason why he shouldn’t handle it,” Gosden said.
And Dubai Warrior has an able partner in Dettori, who has won five of his 12 rides at the Carnival so far.
Dubai Warrior’s chief opponent is likely to be Salem bin Ghadayer’s Capezzano, who won this corresponding run last year and has a Group 1 success on his resume in the form of the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3. Capezzano is one of three alongside Firnas and January’s Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile winner Blown By Wind being dispatched by Emirati Bin Ghadayer. Capezzano made a rather slow start to the season when following up on his third in the Listed Dubai Creek Mile behind Thegreatcollection, who also runs here, by finishing seventh in the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge Rd1. Blown By Wind on the other hand enjoyed a whirlwind four-length success at Jebel Ali. Capezzano will be ridden by another Dubai World Cup winner in Mickael Barzalona, while Royston Ffrench gets the leg up on Blown By Wind.
Bin Ghadayer said: “Blown By Wind had a very good run when he won at Jebel Ali and he returned back in good shape and has been doing well in training, while Capezzano too has shown good form. It’s just a matter of him doing what he does in training at the racetrack now.”
Doug Watson saddles Thegreatcollection, while Satish Seemar has a pair in Mootasadir and Quip. Fawzi Nass sends out Salute The Soldier, with Mahmood Hussain completes the list for the local handlers with Mark Of Approval. Representing Uruguay in the race is Ajuste Fiscal trained by A Cintra Pereira.
The other Group 2 of the night is the turf-ran 1,800m Al Rashidiya, where David O’Meara’s Lord Glitters is the favourite on account of his victory in the Group 2 Singspiel Stakes on January 21. It was a brilliant performance from the eight-year-old Whipper gelding who beat Godolphin’s Charlie Appleby schooled Zakouski by three lengths with Saeed Bin Surour’s Dream Castle trailing the pair home a further length-and-a-half behind in Godolphin’s colours. The Godolphin pair will be eyeing vengeance as they step into their gates in a race where seven go to post.
Lord Glitters finished third behind Almond Eye in the 2019 Group 1 Dubai Turf over course and distance and O’Meara was thrilled after the Singspiel. He said: “It was a mighty performance, an 8yo still running to that level. It’s brilliant.
“We were hoping he was in good form going to Dubai and that he would be competitive. It worked out well for him. He’s actually run good races at Meydan before so he copes with the track well.”
Forming part of the undercard is the Purebred Group 1 Mazrat Al Ruwayah for Purebred Arabians on dirt, the Conditions Meydan Trophy over 1,900m and two Thoroughbred handicaps over 2,410m and 1,000m.