Dubai: Gulf News, pioneering partner of Dubai Racing Club, returns to sponsor Thursday’s final Dubai World Cup Carnival meeting prior to Super Saturday, a major prep for the glittering Dubai World Cup meeting on March 27. The seven-week Carnival features top-class international races contested by some of the best international horses and locally trained stars.
The Dubai-owned Godolphin stable have ruled the roost since the event began in January and look poised for another sweep of the races with twin trainers Saeed Bin Surour and Charlie Appleby well-represented in five of the meet’s six races. Here we look at the six races and offer pointers to leading hopes.
Race 1. 6.30pm: Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 (Group 1) Sponsored By GNFocus (Purebred Arabians), 2,000m, dirt
The final race in the UAE’s oldest and most prestigious three-race series looks an ultra-competitive contest with previous winners of Round 1 and Round 2 squaring off in a bid to assert their credentials for a shot at the Dubai Kahayla Classic (G1), the Arabian showpiece on Dubai World Cup night. Bandar, trained by Majed Al Jahoori won this contest 12 months ago but could only finish a well-beaten sixth on his seasonal debut in Round 2 behind RB Frynchh Dude last month. On the other hand, Brraq, who chased the winner home in the same contest following his victory in Round 1, appears to have the superior form to win this for trainer Jean-Claude Pecout. Af Alwajel and Rb Torch should also go well.
1. Brraq, 2. Bandar
Race 2. 7pm: Getthat Handicap, 1,800m, turf
You could not ask for a better field and variety than this handicap, with several overseas runners taking on the local challenge led by the Charlie Appleby-trained gelding Ya Hayati, who got the better of some of these when taking a Listed event last month. Despite being penalised for that victory he looks a horse who will take all the beating although Saeed Bin Surour’s Bright Melody, who has a 3lb pull on weights having chased Ya Hayati in his last start, could pose a threat. Bin Surour’s Dubai Mirage, the mount of Frankie Dettori, was runner-up last time out and must have a genuine chance as does Bahraini raider Prompting, who was fourth on his debut.
1. Bright Melody, 2. Al Hayati
Race 3. 7.40pm: Meydan Classic (Listed) Sponsored By Agnc3, 1,600m, turf
Charlie Appleby won this last season with Well Of Wisdom and is taken to do it again with Master Of The Seas, a well-bred son of Dubawi who won the Group 2 Superlative Stakes at Newmarket prior to finishing fourth in the Group 1 National Stakes at the Curragh. He looks a class act and will be hard to beat with UAE 2000 Guineas third and stable companion Naval Crown, looking the best of the challengers. Mayehaab, trained by Fawzi Nass in Bahrain, was an impressive winner of his maiden but this is a much bigger test for the son of New Approach over the extra furlong.
1. Master Of The Seas, 2. Naval Crown
Race 4. 8.15pm: Nad Al Sheba Trophy (Group 3) Sponsored By Gulf News, 2,800m, turf
Named after Nad Al Sheba Racecourse, Dubai’s principal racing venue before it was replaced by Meydan in 2000, is the day’s feature event. Godolphin have won the staying contest on no less than seven occasions, with Charlie Appleby accounting for the winner of the race for the last three years. He will be looking to extended his dominance this year with 2019 winner Ispolini who needs to rediscover his form to upstage the better-fancied Volcanic Sky, who represent Saeed Bin Surour, who has also won the contest on three previous occasions including with the globe-trotting Cavalryman in 2014. The son of former Dubai World Cup hero Street Cry warmed up for this contest when finishing a good second in the Meydan Cup over course and distance, Top weight Away He Goes has run with credit in two handicaps over 2,400m this season and warrants respect, as does Global Heat who won his previous start for Bin Surour. The trainer’s second runner, Brilliant Light, has also given a good account of himself at Meydan, and if he improves should be in the mix.
1. Volcanic Sky, 2. Ispolini
Race 5. 8.50pm: Dubai Millennium Stakes (Group 3) Sponsored By Gulfnews.com, 2,000m, turf
Lightly raced Star Safari, who at the age of five has had only six starts, half of which he has won, looks the horse to beat in this eight-runner contest. On his most recent start three weeks ago Charlie Appleby’s galloper overcame an outside post and a wide trip to record a three-quarter-length victory, a performance which should have put him spot on for Thursday’s renewal. The main threat appears to be fellow Godolphin-trained Bedouin’s Story, who ran a good race in the Zabeel Mile a week ago and is backed up quickly by his handler Saeed Bin Surour. However, he must handle the step up in distance. Bin Suroor also runs Royal Marine, a French Group 1 winner as a two-year-old in 2018, and the out-of-luck Royal Marine, who is looking for a first win in 11 starts. The trainer’s third runner, Dream Castle enjoyed a strong 2019 World Cup Carnival, but went off the raider during 2020 and will need to discover his old form to make an impression here.
1. Star Safari, 2. Bedouin’s Story
Race 6. 9.25pm: Meydan Challenge (Listed) Sponsored By Friday, 1,400m, turf
Godolphin handler Charlie Appleby’s relentless pursuit of success at the Carnival extends to the sixth and final race on the card where he sends out last year’s Meydan Classic scorer Well Of Wisdom. The son of Oasis Dream displayed battling qualities to win a Listed contest in France during last summer which speaks well for his attitude. However, danger lurks in the form of Could Be King who can assert in his third start at this year’s Carnival for Irish trainer Ken Condon. Third in the Al Fahidi Fort over course and distance the son of Bated Breath could only finish fourth in the Dubai Sprint but did run with credit in a high-quality race. Fleeting Prince will need to contend with the extra furlong while Escobar and Wasim should run well.
1. Well Of Wisdon, 2. Fleeting Prince