At Meydan on Thursday, the Dubai World Cup Carnival cranks up a gear with the UAE 1,000 Guineas, the first Classic of the season.
Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor has dominated the contest with ten victories since the inaugural running in 2001, the most recent with Winter Lightning two years ago.
In this year’s renewal he saddles the warm favourite Final Song (Christophe Soumillon), the impressive winner of the trial and the only filly in the line-up that can boast a three-figure rating.
It’s hard to see past Final Song given the manner of her recent victory over the course, in which she defeated Down On Da Bayou and Rio Ange on her local and dirt debut.
The runner-up and third both renew rivalry, along with the Dubai Love, the fourth placegetter. Final Song is fancied to confirm the form and continue Soumillon’s excellent start to 2020.
Charlie Appleby has a formidable record in the Al Fahidi Fort and is chasing his fifth success in six years.
The Group Two race over 1400m on turf has attracted a small but select field, with the penalised Glorious Journey, Mythical Magic and Mubtasim, a winner over the course and distance last season, representing Appleby.
Riding arrangements suggest Mythical Magic is Appleby’s first string, with William Buick booked to ride the five-year-old who enjoyed the biggest success of his career to date at Meydan when winning the Zabeel Mile 11 months ago.
Glorious Journey, the mount of James Doyle, looks vulnerable after his three month break under a penalty for landing the Hungerford Stakes at Newbury in August. Mubtasim is exposed and has to improve stepping up in class. He makes limited appeal in the hands of veteran rider Brett Doyle.
Saeed bin Suroor has a poor record in the Al Fahidi Fort, Grazalema’s victory in the first renewal in 2000 the sole highlight. He has booked Christophe Soumillon to ride the 110-rated Royal Meeting, a Group One winner at two who returns to action after a short stint in Australia.
He needs to bounce back after trailing in a remote last of 16 (reported to have made a respiratory noise) in the Group One Kennedy Cantala in Flemington, the final day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival. By Invincible Spirit, he’s an unexposed type and is open to further improvement on just the fifth run of his career.
The American raider Blitzkrieg, the sole international runner, is an interesting runner for California based Doug O’Neill. Winner of five of his 15 races, he won’t lack for fitness having finished a close-up fourth in Grade Two company at Santa Anita earlier in the month. Runners from the USA have a dismal record on turf in the UAE, and he’s hard to fancy taking on the powerful Godolphin challenge.
Mike de Kock saddles top-weight Majestic Mambo in the opening race, a competitive 2410m handicap on turf. He was far from disgraced behind the high-class miler Benbatl on his comeback in the Singspiel Stakes, shaping as he would benefit for the run.
He will appreciate the drop in class and warrants respect, despite queries about taking a marked step up in distance. The unexposed Gifts Of Gold and Dubai Poet, representing Godolphin, rate the chief threats, with slight preference for the last-named on his Meydan debut for Charlie Appleby.
The Al Bastakiya Trial, race 4, has attracted a maximum 16-runner field. It’s not a strong race as none of the runners can boast a lofty rating, and in a wide-open race the once-raced Sanad Libya gets a tentative vote.
He made a pleasing debut behind subsequent UAE 2,000 Guineas Trial winner Commanding in a maiden last month, keeping on nicely in the closing stages to run third. He should be sharper for the experience, is nicely drawn next to the rails and the application of a first-time visor could spark further improvement.
The admirable veteran sprinter Caspian Prince looks to take his tally in the UAE to two in the Dubai Dash, the 1000m handicap on turf, race 3. Trained by Michael Appleby, he showed he hadn’t lost any of his dash and enthusiasm on the opening night, three weeks ago, when only failing to see off Almanaara. A confirmed front-runner who has bags of early pace, he could be hard to peg back under Connor Beasley on the same mark.
27-10 GIFTS OF GOLD; 3-1 COURT POET; 9-2 DUBAI FUTURE; 6-1 MAJESTIC MAMBO; 8-1 ZAMAN, KASAMAN; 10-1 MASSIF CENTRAL; 12-1 AND BETTER OTHERS.
1-2 FINAL SONG; 6-1 CHASING DREAM, DOWN ON DA BAYOU; 7-1 RIO ANGIE; 8-1 SILENT WAVE; 12-1 AND BETTER OTHERS.
3-1 WAADY; 7-2 CASPAIN PRINCE; 4-1 EQUILATERAL; 6-1 PRODIGAL SON, A MOMENTOFMADNESS; 12-1 AND BETTER OTHERS.
3-1 DARK OF NIGHT; 5-1 LOST IN TIME; 7-1 TIMO NURMOS; 8-1 FIRST VIEW, TOOSH CARLRAS, SANAD LIBYA; 10-1 MIDNIGHT OIL, PRINCESS BRIDE, ZABARDAST; 12-1 AND BETTER OTHERS.
22-10 MYTHICAL MAGIC; 3-1 ROYAL MEETING; 7-2 GLORIOUS JOURNEY; 6-1 BLITZKREIG, MUBTASIM; 10-1 POET’S SOCIETY; 12-1 AND BETTER OTHERS.
11-2 FRANZ KAFKA, DUBAI ICON; 6-1 GRAND ARGENTIER, MONTSARRAT, ABOVE NORMAL; 8-1 GEORGE VILLIERS, TRIED AND TRUE, ZORION; 10-1 GREAT KING, PARSIMONY, STARRY EYES; 12-1 AND BETTER OTHERS.
7 COURT POET 6 GIFTS OF GOLD 1 MAJESTIC MAMBO 13 DUBAI FUTURE
8 FINAL SONG 1 DUBAI LOVE 3 DOWN ON DA BAYOU 7 RIO ANGIE
3 CASPIAN PRINCE 6 EQUILATERAL 7 WAADY 8 AMOMENTOFMADNESS
11 SANAD LIBYA 3 DARK OF NIGHT 9 LOST IN TIME 14 ZABARDAST
3 MYTHICAL MAGIC 7 ROYAL MEETING 1 GLORIOUS JOURNEY 2 MUBTASIM
6 ABOVE NORMAL 12 FRANZ KAFKA 13 GEORGE VILLIERS 1 ZORION
Best Bet: 3 Mythical Magic [Race 4]
Best Value: 1 Dubai Love [Race 2]
Best Swinger: 8 Final Song and 1 Dubai Love [Race 2]
Leg 1: 1, 6, 7
Leg 2: 8
Leg 3: 3, 6
Leg 4: 3, 11
Leg 5: 3, 7
Leg 6: 6, 12, 13
Total R 72
Jackpot [Races 3-6]
Leg 1: 3, 6, 7, 8
Leg 2: 3, 11
Leg 3: 1, 3, 7
Leg 4: 6, 12, 13
Total R 72