Dubai: The Godolphin Mile, looks a really exciting renewal of the first thoroughbred race on the card. There are runners trained in the UAE, Turkey, UK, USA, Bahrain and Japan, which makes the $1.5 million Group 2 race, sponsored by Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City - District One, a fascinating contest.
Locally based American trainer Doug Watson, who is a multiple UAE Champion Trainer, has another great chance to add to his World Cup night tally with Muntazah. The son of Dubawi is owned by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, and will be ridden by his retained jockey Jim Crowley. The penny has really dropped this season at Meydan with him winning first the Firebreak Stakes then the Burj Nahaar on Super Saturday in convincing style. He won the latter by an easy ten lengths and very much looks the one to beat in this heat. Kimbear also runs for the Red Stables team and he should not be easily dismissed either.
On paper, Muntazah stands out. He’s in good shape, looks great and is very happy. He’s from a brilliant family. We wanted to stretch him out but he tied up after the Maktoum Challenge. So, we’ll get through this race.
Last year Heavy Metal won this contest and beat Muntazah but this season he has been beaten three times by Watson’s charge and he is bound to be competitive, but needs to revert to his very best to reverse this season’s form. Mickael Barzalona in the saddle rode him to victory last year and will be hoping for a mighty run.
When Todd Pletcher and John Velazquez team up they form one of the most successful partnerships in America winning Group 1s for fun. They have not brought Coal Front to Dubai to do anything but win. This progressive five-year-old son of Stay Thirsty has won his last two starts and has a record of four wins from six runs in Graded races. He presents a very strong challenge and will bid to be the first American winner on the night and it would be no great surprise.
Another US challenger is True Timber, who is trained by Kiaran McLaughlin who spent many years on the Dubai racing circuit before moving back stateside. Having run with credit in the Pegasus World Cup last time, he certainly looks up to the job and if he stays the trip he might well be in contention but stamina is a worry from a horse, who has never won beyond seven furlongs before but he has been placed in Grade 1s.
Satish Seemar is no stranger to the winner’s enclosure on World Cup night and the first bullet he will fire is Secret Ambition. Stable jockey Richard Mullen takes the ride on this tough six-year-old son of Exceed And Excel, who showed great strength when he won the Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile earlier this season. Subsequent performance has been a decent effort behind Muntazah but make no mistake this one will be perfectly ready to go to war for the Master of Zabeel stables.
Saeed Bin Surour is without doubt the most-successful trainer on World Cup night and you would ignore his runner Secret Partnership at your peril, but he would need to step up significantly to take this one. African Ride and Nonkono Yume and the amusingly named Good Curry are also bound to be popular selections.
It looks a fabulous renewal, but Muntazah looks set to cap a brilliant season with victory here. Coal Front should push him close and I think African Ride could make the frame too.
2. Coal Front
3. African Ride