Dubai World Cup Meeting Preview

Dubai World Cup Meeting Preview

For as long as I can remember Dubai and in particular Dubai World Cup night has been the first big meeting of the international calendar.

While the likes of the Pegasus World Cup, Saudi Cup and other big meetings now take place the World Cup is still the night which attracts the best from the UK and Ireland to the Middle East.

This year is no different with UK and Irish runners set to take part in six of the eight thoroughbred races on the card, the two exceptions being dirt races, the Group 2 Godolphin Mile and the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen.

For the purposes of this article the Godolphin horses trained by Charlie Appleby and Saeed bin Suroor will be treated as local runners, which feels appropriate given the local base the operation uses during the European winter. 

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Dubai Gold Cup

A relatively new but nonetheless welcome addition to the program has been an opportunity for the stayers in the shape of this valuable two mile Group 2 contest.

First held back in 2012 European-trained horses have won six of the nine runnings (2020’s having been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic) including with Subjectivist who is set to line up again here two years ago.

Subjectivist has made just the two appearances since running out the impressive winner that day with his latest effort, a twelfth over 1m7f in Riyadh his first start in over 18 months.

Entitled to improve for that run he looks to hold strong claims and comes into this event top-rated on official ratings.

The globetrotting Broome represents Aidan O’Brien here and somewhat surprisingly is making his first start in Dubai having finished fifth in a Listed 1m4f contest in Doha last month.

Quickthorn showed good form last summer winning three consecutive starts in Group 2 and Group 3 company. He has been found out at this level in the past however. 

The booking of crack Aussie jockey Damian Lane for Marco Botti’s Ardakan takes the eye with the colt having chased home likely favourite here Siskany when the pair clashed in a 1m6f contest here last month.

Ardakan shaped as if the extra distance here would suit and looks a leading contender while Enemy, Get Shirty, Trawlerman, Al Qareem, El Habeeb and Giavellotto also represent the UK in a race which surprisingly given their good performances at this meeting in recent years lacks Japanese representation.

Al Quoz Sprint

Another relatively new addition to the card is this six furlong turf sprint. The UK has yet to win this race but Ireland holds two victories thanks to Sole Power in 2015 and the now Aussie-based A Case Of You last year.

George Boughey’s Al Dasim looks to hold strong claims of providing the UK with a first win in the race with the three-year-old having impressed in completing a hat-trick when taking out the Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint, the main trial for this race earlier this month.

Successful against his older rivals that day as the sole three-year-old in the field he receives weight all round. 

Flaming Rib, the mount of Oisin Murphy is another UK representative who could feature in the finish following a win over this trip on his seasonal debut in Doha last month. 

Ladies Church, a daughter of Churchill represents Ireland here following a short-head second in the Group 2 Blue Point Sprint at this track last month. She rates an interesting contender on just her second attempt at this distance. 

UAE Derby

While so often in the past this race has been dominated by the Godolphin operation it’s pleasing to see European representation in the shape of Aidan O’Brien’s Cairo.

The Ballydoyle maestro has often been a notable absentee from the list of trainers with runners at this meeting in the past but in Cairo he has a proven Group performer heading to the feature three-year-old race of the UAE season.

Cairo showed he handles synthetics when winning a mile Listed race by two lengths at Dundalk at the start of this month and there has to be hope for him handling the surface in Dubai given his sire Quality Road was a top class dirt performer.

Cairo is currently favourite for the race with UK Bookies ahead of Bob Baffert’s Worcester while a string of Japanese hopes are headed by Dura Erede who was a Group 1 winner over 1m2f in the Hopeful Stakes at Nakayama at the end of December. 

Dubai Turf

Lord North has won this race for the past two years, including when dead-heating for first in 2022 and is one of four seven-year-old’s in the field for this years renewal.

Trained by John and Thady Gosden the veteran showed no signs of slowing down when delivering a victory in a 1m2f Listed contest on the synthetic track at Lingfield last month. 

Order Of Australia represents Aidan O’Brien here following a half-length win over a mile in Doha last month. Other UK and Irish representatives included the Roger Varian-trained El Drama who finished a neck second in a Group 1 over this course and distance earlier this month and two outsiders in Shelir (David O’Meara) and Sir Busker (William Knight).

Panthalassa, the horse Lord North dead-heated with last year was trained in Japan and Do Deuce, down the field in the Arc in October is expected to appreciate the quick ground forecast here following a win over 1m3f on turf in a Group 2 at Hanshin last month. 

Fellow Japanese raider Serifos ended his 2022 with a Group 1 win over a mile at Hanshin in November and is expected to deliver a big effort on his return to action.

Dubai Sheema Classic

Mostahdaf and Westover are the two representatives for the UK and Ireland in the 1m4f feature race.

Mostahdaf, trained by John and Thady Gosden has shown a liking for a sound surface in the past and put a below par effort on a very soft track in the Arc behind him when winning by seven lengths in a Group 3 contest over an extended 1m2f at Riyadh last month. 

Westover looks to hold strong claims with last years impressive Irish Derby winner putting a disappointing effort in the King George behind him when sixth in the Arc at Longchamp in October.

Without a run this year he is expected to appreciate the return to fast ground and looks a big threat to Japanese raider Equinox who is expected to start at short odds having followed up a win over last years Dubai Turf dead-heater Panthalassa with a triumph in the December feature Group 1 Arima Kinen over an extended 1m4f at Nakayama when last in action.  

The winner of this race 12 months ago Shahryar is another to represent Japan here having delivered a number of solid efforts in defeat since including when runner-up in a 1m4f Group 1 at Tokyo in November. 

Dubai World Cup

The previously mentioned Panthalassa lines up for Japan in this contest and while just Algiers is in the field for the UK and Ireland there is plenty of international interest from the likes of Bob Baffert’s Country Grammer, the winner of this race 12 months ago and a whole host of Japanese runners who include Ushba Tesoro and T O Keynes who finished one-two in a Listed event at Kawasaki at the start of last month.

Algiers, racing in handicap company in the UK as recently as October has impressed in his two starts in Dubai so far winning by a cumulative twelve-and-a-half-lengths in a pair of Group 2 contests.

The most recent of those came when justifying odds-on favouritism in the one-mile-one-and-a-half-furlong Al Maktoum Challenge R2 here at the start of last month.

The six-year-old now 2nd favourite with new betting site BetUK drew six lengths clear of his rivals that day and in a race that is a traditional prep for this contest and while he suffered a heavy defeat when starting at big odds in the Godolphin Mile on this card last year he looks a different horse this time around. 

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