The Dubai World Cup Carnival launches on Thursday with a meeting presented by Longines, featuring two opening rounds of the Al Maktoum Challenge and the Listed Singspiel Stakes.
Dubai racing operation, Godolphin makes a return to Meydan for the first time this season and fields Breeder's Cup Juvenile Turf winner, Outstrip in the Group 2 Thoroughbred version of the 1600m US$250,000 Al Maktoum Challenge.
Godolphin won this race in 2013 with the Saeed Bin Suroor-trained Shuruq under Silvestre de Sousa. Despite his heroic exploits Stateside in 2013, Outstrip could not register a win in 2014. His trainer, Charlie Appleby is hopeful of a good showing from his star who boasts Group 1 placed form last season behind the John Gosden-trained Kingman.
“We are really looking forward to running him,” said Appleby. “He is a real favorite in the yard as he was my first Group One winner and he was running with credit in good company last season.
“We train on dirt and he handles it really well at home. He should really like Meydan and the turns so we are hoping for a big run. We just need to see how he copes with any kickback in a race situation.”
New stable jockey, Adam Kirby, takes the ride.
The Dubai World Cup Carnival's most successful trainer, Saeed bin Suroor, saddles Emirates Flyer, the mount of his new stable jockey, James Doyle. Second in the UAE 2000 Guineas and third in the UAE Derby last season, he only had one start in England subsequently, when second in a conditions race at Wolverhampton.
“He is working very nicely,” said Bin Suroor. “Obviously it is a very tough race but this horse always tries his best and should give a good account of himself. He will improve for the run but we are hoping he runs well.”
South African Mike De Kock is by far the most successful overseas trainer at the Dubai World Cup Carnival and saddles both Royal Ridge and Zahee. Christophe Soumillon rides Royal Ridge while Paul Hanagan, recently recovered from a broken collarbone, rides Zahee for his main employer, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
“Both have been working really well on the dirt,” said De Kock. “Rated 113, Zahee is one of those horses who is really hard to place and has to run in this type of race as there are few handicap opportunities for him. He is a nice horse but is likely to improve for the run.
“The same applies to Royal Ridge. He has been flying on the dirt in the mornings but has been off since January and that was his only run last year. It will be interesting to see how he goes on the surface in a race but his work has been very pleasing.”
The Satish Seemar-trained Surfer won his most recent start, the listed Dubai Creek Mile, over course and distance when he and stable jockey, Richard Mullen denied Ennobled Friend and Silvestre De Sousa close home. Both combinations are in opposition again.
The listed Singspiel Stakes, over 1800m on turf, sees nine go to post including Godolphin's True Story, trained by Bin Suroor and the mount of Doyle. Considered good enough to contest last year's Epsom Derby, Doyle's mount last won in the Listed Feilden Stakes at Newmarket last April.
“He is a horse we have always really liked,” said Bin Suroor. “He is in good form at home and should run very well but will certainly improve for the run.”
Stable companion, Be Ready, the mount of Dane O'Neill, will only be having his fourth career start.
“He too is a nice horse who has been going well but will definitely benefit for the outing,” said the trainer.
De Kock is also doubly represented with Soumillon aboard Sanshaawes and Hanagan riding Sheikh Hamdan's Mushreq in a race they won last year.
“Both should run well,” said De Kock. “Obviously they have been off since March so should progress for the run. It looks a competitive race as you would expect but we are happy with them both.”
Only seven will face the starter in the first Group 1 of the 2014-15 season – the Purebred Arabian version of the Al Maktoum Challenge.
Owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan and trainer, Majed Al Jahouri, seeking a tenth consecutive UAE Group 1 Purebred Arabian victory, combine with Raaziq.
The mount of Silvestre De Sousa, he looks the one they all have to beat.
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