More fireworks in store as Meydan ignite the 2020 Dubai World Cup Carnival
Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Hot on the heels of the fantastic fireworks that lit up the night skies across the UAE to welcome the New Year and new decade, Meydan Racecourse is all set to serve up its own pyrotechnics from Thursday when it hosts 2020 Dubai World Cup Carnival.

Worth $12.74 million in prize money across 10 high-quality meetings, the flat-racing extravaganza will culminate in the landmark 25th running of the $12 million Dubai World Cup, currently the world’s richest race, on March 28.

Several of the world’s top horses, trainers and jockeys will descend on Dubai to challenge for the many prestigious contests that will be staged on the venue’s famed dirt and turf surfaces.

The action kick-off on Thursday with a mouth-watering six-race card highlighted by the seventh running of the $200,000 Dubawi Stakes (G3), a thrilling 1200-metre furlong contest that acts as the first step towards the glittering $2.5 million Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) on World Cup night.

This is the race that former local hero Reynaldothewizard won three times between 2015-2017, two years after sprinting to victory in the Golden Shaheen. His trainer, Satish Seemar also won this contest last year with Raven’s Corner and returns this year two-handed with highly regarded UAE newcomer Gladiator King (Mickael Barzalona) and three-time Meydan scorer Lavaspin.

“He’s coming on well and he’s ready to run his race in the Dubawi,” Seemar said. “Luckily we got him at the right time in the summer and he’s acclimatised well.

“The American horses take a while to come along and he’s enjoyed our programme.

“He’s about 95 per cent fit and the race will bring him forward. We’re still getting to know the horse. We’ll see how he and Lavaspin break and let them do their thing,: Seemar added.

“Lavaspin should only improve from this first race. He has had his issues, but is doing well — so it will be interesting to run them both, as Lavaspin is a Zabeel-made product and the other is brand new.”

However, it is the Doug Watson-trained Drafted, who attracts the most attention. A high-class sprinter, the six-year-old easily sets the standard with five imposing victories at the track dating back to January 2018.

Drafted, who was last seen finishing fifth in the 20191 Golden Shaheen, claimed the second spot in this race a year ago.

The Carnival opens with an attractive renewal of the UAE 1000 Guineas Trial where the Godolphin stable appears to hold a strong hand in Saeed Bin Surour’s Final Song (Christophe Soumillon) and Charlie Appleby’s Silent Wave (James Doyle).

But they are unlikely to have it their way with Doug Watson’s Meydan scorer Rio Angie (Pat Dobbs) looking an imposing contender on the back of her fast-paced course and distance win in November.

The trial has attracted a full field of 16 runners, among them Salem Bin Ghadayer’s Down On The Bayo (Barzalona), British raider Silent Surprise (Simon Crisford/ Jim Crowley) and Bin Surour’s second-string Dubai Polve (Pat Cosgrave).

Thursday’s card, which is sponsored by Emirates NBD also features four attractive handicaps from distances between five furlongs to 12.