Dubai: With all its seven races replicating the conditions of events on the lucrative Dubai World Cup programme in three weeks’ time (March 27), Meydan’s Super Saturday meeting is often watched closely because it offers clues aplenty.
This year’s dress rehearsal to the big day is no different with two Group One races taking centrestage, with the third round of the Al Maktoum Challenge over the 2000m trip of the $12 million Group 1 Dubai World Cup the obvious talking point of the evening. Three winners of the race have gone on to clinch the big one and all three - Dubai Millennium (2000), Street Cry (2002) and Electrocutionist (2006) - were trained by Saeed Bin Surour for Godolphin. All three were ridden by Frankie Dettori in Round 3.
A winner of nine Dubai World Cups, Bin Surour saddles Dubai Mirage, who finished second in two previous runs in handicap company on turf over 1600m and 1800m in January and February. Dubai Mirage shed his maiden status over a 1600m trip on the All-Weather at Kempton last June, one of two career wins for the four-year-old Dubawi gelding, and that could have got Bin Surour to shift him to dirt.
“Dubai Mirage has run well on the turf so far this season and we wanted to give him a chance on the dirt,” Bin Surour said. “This will be a very tough race, but he has been going nicely at home.” The rest of the 10 in the field are locally trained.
With 2018 winner North America dropping down in trip and being assigned the Gr.3 Burj Nahaar, the course and distance equivalent of the Gr.2 Godolphin Mile, trainer Satish Seemar has opted to go with a quartet that includes Roman Rosso, Quip, Saltarin Dubai and Secret Ambition, the latter two recent winners of the Listed Jebel Ali Stakes (1950m) and the 1600m Group 3 Firebreak Stakes, respectively.
Doug Watson saddles Listed Dubai Creek Mile winner Thegreatcollection, while Salem Bin Ghadayer sends out a trio in Hypothetical, Firnas and Tailor’s Row. Ahmad Bin Harmash’s New Trails, surprise winner of the Curlin Handicap over course and distance a little over a fortnight ago, also lines up. The pick among the local talent seems to be Fawzi Nass’ last year’s Burj Nahaar winner Salute The Soldier, who successfully stepped up in class and trip to win the Gr. 2 Al Maktoum Challenge R2 over 1900m in February.
Ridden by Adrie de Vries to victory on both occasions, the six-year-old Sepoy gelding is top-rated in the field at 113 and his rider remains hopeful. “That was a new trip last time and he stayed well, suggesting the extra 100 m will not be an issue,” De Vries said. “He seems in great form and it is exciting to be involved with a genuine Dubai World Cup prospect.”
Meanwhile, the Gr.1 Jebel Hatta over 1800m, which mirrors the Gr.1 Dubai Turf, has attracted a field of 11. Godolphin and Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance are supplying six of the starters here. The spotlight, however, falls on David O’Meara’s top-rated Lord Glitters, winner of the Gr.2 Singspiel Stakes over course and distance, which was also the eight-year-old Whipper gelding’s first success since landing the Gr.1 Queen Anne Stakes over a mile at Royal Ascot 2019.
Third thereafter in the 1800m Gr.2 Al Rashidiya behind winner Zakouski and second placed Court House (who also runs here), Lord Glitters, who ceded weight to the rest of his rivals on that occasion, has given his handler belief.
“His last race did not suit him; there was no pace, he does not have the penalty this time and hopefully there will be a stronger gallop,” O’Meara said.
Charlie Appleby sends out two for Godolphin in Art Du Val and Al Suhail. A five-year-old No Nay Never gelding, Art Du Val was fourth behind Lord Glitters in the Singspiel on his seasonal bow and later third in the Gr.2 Zabeel Mile, while Al Suhail runs fresh after his Sir Henry Cecil Stakes success over a mile at Newmarket in July. Art Du Val won the (Conditions) 1900m Meydan Trophy in 2019,
Appleby said: “We think the return to 1800m is going to suit Art Du Val, but he will need to up his game again to be in the mix. Al Suhail had a setback after winning at Newmarket, but his preparation has gone well and he did a nice racecourse gallop at Meydan last week.’’
Six-time race winner Bin Surour saddles Royal Marine, while Sheikh Ahmed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s yellow silks will be worn by Ryan Curatolo aboard the Nicholas Bachalard-schooled Boerhan. Seemar dispatches First Contact, while Sheikh Hamdan’s trio represent the yards of Ali Rashid Al Rayhi (Eqtiraan and Moqtarreb) and Musabbeh Al Mheiri (Zainhom).
- The writer is a senior sports journalist based in the UAE
Undercard: At a glance
Race Trip(Surface) Prep for
Listed Al Bastakiya 1800 (Dirt) Gr.2 UAE Derby
Gr.2 Dubai City of Gold 2410m (Turf) Gr.1 Dubai Sheema Classic
Gr.3 Mahab Al Shimaal 1200m (Dirt) Gr.1 Dubai Golden Shaheen
Gr.3 Burj Nahaar 1600m (Dirt) Gr.2 Godolphin Mile
Gr.3 Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint 1200m (Turf) Gr.1 Al Quoz Sprint