Dubai: The star quality is undoubted as Meydan hosts its Dubai World Cup Carnival meeting on Thursday with a seven-race card featuring two prestigious thoroughbred Group races — the Al Rashidiyah (G2) over 1.800 metres and the Al Shindagha Sprint (G3) over 1,200 metres.
However, prior to that, the evening meeting opens with the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge (Round 2), which has attracted a classy field of ten Purebred Arabians.
Among them are Goshawke, who won this race 12 months ago, and AF Al Sajanjle, who was an impressive winner of a Group 2 contest over a mile here last season.
Godolphin’s Barney Roy, whose most-significant win came in the 2017 St James’s Palace Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot, is one of the biggest names on display together with 2018 Epsom Derby (G1) runner-up Dee Ex Bee, who represents Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Sports Council, in the Listed Meydan Cup.
Now a maturing six-year-old, all eyes will be on Barney Roy, as he faces some genuine contenders, led by defending champion Dream Castle, who races out of veteran Godolphin handler Saeed Bin Suroor’s powerful Al Quoz-based stable.
If the Al Rashidiyah fails to set pulses racing, then the Al Shindagha Sprint is sure to whip up a storm, given the number of blue-blooded speedballs that will face the starter.
Recent Meydan scorer, Gladiator King, heads the eight-horse field together with last year’s runner-up, Drafted and consistent performer, Ibn Malik.
Watson has won the sprint the last three years and will be hoping to continue his dominance of a race that leads up to the $2.5 million Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) on Dubai World Cup night.
The trainer is also hopeful of his stable star breaking well, having not looked sharp from the gates on his most-recent start.
“We know he’ll come from off the pace with his style, but he was too far back,” said Watson.
“He had also missed some training with a foot issue, so we were very happy with the way he ran and the way he closed. Since then, he’s had a really good couple pieces of work and I’m hopeful for a good run.”
Similarly, emirati handler Salem Bn Ghadayer is anxiously awaiting to see how Dee Ex Bee fares on his Meydan debut in the 2,800-metre Meydan Cup.
The son of former Godolphin galloper Farhh towers will be giving away between four and seven kgs to rivals Mekong, who was fourth in the British Champions Long Distance Cup, Group 2 placed Secret Advisor, as well as useful Meydan scorers Dubhe and Universal Order.
“I checked all of the [DWC Carnival] programme and there was only one race just he could run in right now,” Bin Ghadayer said. “I spoke to the boss and we decided to run him.
“We would like to run him in Saudi before the ($1.5 million) Dubai Gold Cup (G2) and we need a race before that. He will need the race. He’s about 70 per cent ready and after this we will see about Saudi and then the Gold Cup.
“I just hope for a good race and for everything to go alright.”
1. 1. Ziyadd; 2. Amwaj
2. 1. Barney Roy, 2. Dream Castle
3. 1. Dee Ex Bee; 2. Universal Order
4. 1. Dubai Legacy, 2. Golden Goal
5. 1. Land Of Legends, 2. Moqtarreb
6. 1. Gladiator King, 2. Drafted
7. 1. Certain Lad, 2. Simsir
Day’s Best: Gladiator King