Today’s race meet is the first of nine significant race days that culminate in Super Saturday on March 9. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: The long wait is finally over. The 2019 Dubai World Cup Carnival, one of the most highly anticipated events on the international racing calendar, kicks-off on Thursday at Meydan Racecourse with a six-race card bristling with quality and the injection of prize money in the region of $1 million (Dh3.67 million).

Runners from eight countries will be seen in action on the opening night, sponsored by Meydan’s Pillar Partner Longines, where the headline acts are a pair of key Group 3 contests — the Singspiel Stakes over 1,800 metres on Turf and the 1,200m-metre Dubawi Stakes on dirt. Both races carry a purse of $200,000 each.

$995k

Is the total prize money for today’s six-race Carnival card

Thursday’s race meet is the first of nine significant race days that culminate in Super Saturday on March 9, a high-ranking event which acts as the traditional curtain-raiser to the $35 million Dubai World Cup meeting on March 30.

The Singspiel Stakes presented by Longines V H P Collection is an early pointer to the $6 million Dubai Turf (G1) on Dubai World Cup night.

Long-serving Godolphin handler and eight-time Carnival champion Saeed Bin Surour used this race as a stepping stone for Benbatl, who would go on to land the Dubai Turf in 2018.

$35m

Is the total prize fund for the nine races on Dubai World Cup night

And as expected, he is sends out a strong team of three horses on Thursday, led by last season’s Al Fahidi Fort (G2) third Dream Castle (Christophe Soumillon).

The Emirati is also represented by lightly raced Racing History (Kevin Stott), who has twice been placed at Group 1 level in Germany, and last season’s Dubai Millennium Stakes (G3) fourth Team Talk (Pat Cosgrave).

Charlie Appleby, Bin Surour’s Godolphin teammate and Epsom Derby (G1) and Melbourne Cup-winning handler, also sends out a trio of gallopers including Newmarket Listed winner Key Victory (James Doyle), Bay Of Poets (Colm O’Donoghue) and Meydan turf handicap winner Salsabeel (Brett Doyle).

8

Countries are represented at today’s Carnival opener

Assessing his runners, Bin Surour told the Godolphin website: “Dream Castle looks well physically out in Dubai and has been working nicely.

“Racing History has had his setbacks in the past but looks to be in good order now. I expect him to improve for the run,” he added. “Team Talk is coming back to turf after disappointing on dirt in Round Three of the Maktoum Challenge in March, but he has been going very well at home.”

Appleby was also optimistic of his team of three.

“Bay Of Poets has performed well out in Dubai and, if he runs up to the standard of his second to Benbatl in the Al Rashidiya, should be very competitive,” he said.

“Key Victory had a break after his run at Royal Ascot and he has done well for it. I feel that the drop back to nine furlongs is going to suit and his preparation has gone well.

“Salsabeel has also enjoyed a small break since finishing second in a Group 3 at Deauville in August and boasts winning form around Meydan, while this trip should play to his strengths.”

Among the Godolphin sextet’s rivals are 2016 Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes (G1) scorer Deauville, owned by trained by Bahrain’s Fawzi Nass, and former Singspiel Stakes winner Light the Lights, trained by Carnival heavyweight, Mike de Kock.

The Dubawi Stakes presented by Longines Ladies Master collection has attracted a select field of seven where locally trained sprinters take on the might of UK, Sweden and Korea. The race serves as a course and distance prep for the $2.5 million Dubai Golden Shaheen sponsored by Gulf News (G1), the world’s richest dirt sprint on Dubai World Cup night.

A trio of Godolphin three-year-old fillies will bid to flag their Classic credentials when they line-up to contest the UAE 1,000 Guineas Trial. They are Bin Surour’s Dubai Beauty (Soumillon) and Swift Rose (Kevin Stott) and Appleby’s Nashirah (James Doyle).