The richest horse racing meeting in the world takes place on Saturday at Meydan in Dubai as the latest Dubai World Cup meeting kicks off.
Nine top class races featuring the best equine talent from around the world will come together to compete, and Saturday’s fixture includes no less than five Group One contests, while three of the remaining four races all carry Group Two status.
The action at Meydan kicks off with the Dubai Kahayla Classic, which is a Group One restricted to Arabian-bred horses, while the highlight of the meeting, the Dubai World Cup brings the meeting to a close.
Here is our race-by-race guide to Dubai World Cup night:
Dubai Kahayla Classic Empowered By IPIC (Arabian Group 1) (Dirt) 1m 2f
Very little worthwhile form to go on in the meeting’s opener, so a tentative vote goes to VALIANT BOY who is unbeaten in five starts on dirt in the USA and Nad Al Sheba. Elizabeth Merryman’s charge can count two Grade One wins among that record, with successes at Churchill Downs and Delaware, and a first-time tongue-tie might help see him extend his winning sequence to six.
Godolphin Mile Sponsored By Meydan Sobha (Group 2) (Dirt) 1m
) has been one of the big stars of the show during the Carnival, seemingly relishing the dirt surface in racking up a hat-trick of successes from his four starts on the surface. A smart performer in the UK when trained by Saeed bin Suroor, winning three of his six starts for Godolphin, the Speightstown gelding has had some problems with the stalls in prior runs although seems to have mellowed and there’s been nothing amiss at the start of any of his impressive recent performances. Having kicked off his winning run with a four-length success over Haatheq in a course and distance handicap, he took the step up to Group Three level in his stride with a facile win over Gold City, and again beat that rival in impressive fashion earlier in the month. He looks well up to having a crack at this higher grade, and out of the plum draw in stall one and Paul Hanagan up, he looks tough to beat.
Dubai Gold Cup Sponsored By Al Tayer Motors (Group 2) (Turf) 2m
Tom Dascombe’s Brown Panther
will be popular on the back of his Irish St Leger win last season, and his fair effort in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, although he hasn’t been seen since that latter run and lack of race fitness might just find him out. This renewal of the Godolphin Gold Cup isn’t particularly strong, and it might be worth chancing RIO TIGRE
) to bounce back and overturn recent form with the reopposing Almoonqith
who beat the Teofilo colt last time at Nad Al Sheba. The selection was a smart performer when trained in France by Andre Fabre, winning three of his first five starts, and placing in Group Two company at Deauville and Longchamp before pitching up in Dubai. He perhaps just needed the first run behind Famous Kid on his debut here, and stepped up markedly to chase home Mike De Kock’s charge next time, giving that rival 5lbs. The selection boasts a considerable turn-around at the weights for this rematch, and the high draw is no concern over this longer trip. While he probably needs to step up on form, he remains open to improvement and gets the trip fine, so is capable of posting a big run.
UAE Derby Sponsored By The Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group (Group 2) (Dirt) 1m1f110y
A cracking renewal, and one in which the spoils can go to Mike De Kock’s MUBTAAHIJ
) who has won three of his last four starts, and is the sole course and distance in the field. The Dubawi colt has only tasted defeat once this season when finishing behind Maftool
in the UAE 2000 Guineas, beaten just a head and he can reverse the form over this longer trip with the additional yardage not certain to suit the Godolphin runner. Mike De Kock’s runner conversely seemed to relish the step up to this distance when beating Sir Fever
over course and distance last time, although he perhaps had the run of the race on that occasion. Nevertheless, he could have more in his locker over this distance and Christophe Soumillon takes over in the saddle so a bold bid is expected.
Al Quoz Sprint Empowered By IPIC (Group 1) (Turf) 5f
A fast-and-furious dash in which Sole Power
will bid to finally win at this venue, although Eddie Lynam’s charge has been soundly beaten in all four previous attempts at this race, and was a shade disappointing in recent starts at Sha Tin and here. The form of his Kings Stand Stakes win, and his success in the Nunthorpe would see him involved on his best days, but it may pay to look elsewhere given his record here and the Godolphin representative AHTOUG
) should go well. Charlie Appleby’s string are in good form, and the Byron horse was only narrowly beaten in this event twelve months ago behind Amber Sky
; that rival has looked a shadow of the horse he was twelve months ago though in recent outings. The selection finished fifth to Sole Power in that King’s Stand Stakes which was his best effort of the season, and he shaped as if needing the first run back on this surface behind Hototo in January. Having then won on his next outing, beating Lancelot Du Lac
, he was beaten only by a short-head latest in the Meydan Sprint behind Sir Maximilian
where he just failed to get up after delivering a strong run, and he can gain revenge here.
Dubai Golden Shaheen Sponsored By Gulf News (Group 1) (Dirt) 6f
) landed the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in 2013, and although he hasn’t won since he has yet to finish worse than fourth in six subsequent starts, including when beaten just a half-length in his follow-up bid back in November. Bob Baffert’s Eddington horse is one of the top dirt performers in the US, and he finished runner-up on his last outing at Santa Anita, perhaps doing too much too soon behind Conquest Two Step in the Palos Verdes. Ridden with slightly more restraint he can post a bold show, and he likely won’t be far away under Victor Espinoza from a decent draw out of the number seven box.
Dubai Turf Sponsored By DP World (Group 1) (Turf) 1m1f
The Grey Gatsby is clear of this field on official ratings, having won some top-class contests last season, including the Dante at York and the