Super Thursday, kindly sponsored by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Shadwell Farms, the American arm of his breeding empire, is the second biggest meeting of the season and a dress rehearsal for Dubai World Cup night in just over three weeks time.
With trial and/or prep races for all seven contests on the big night, the world’s most valuable day of racing, it is no surprise to see a high-quality Super Thursday card, highlighted by the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge Round III - Invasor, over the same 2000m dirt course as the $6million Dubai World Cup, the world’s richest horse race.
Asiatic Boy was runner-up in that contest last year and Mike De Kock’s 2007 UAE Derby winner lines up in this as his final prep race before the 2009 Dubai World Cup.
His trainer is hopeful of a big run: “He is fit and well and has come on a lot for his comeback outing but the draw, in 15, is a negative. It will not be easy from there to get across and involved.”
Saeed Bin Suroor runs Godolphin’s Kirklees, making his dirt debut as was Electrocutionist who won this for the same connections in 2006 before winning the Dubai World Cup itself.
Dubai Millennium and Street Cry also won this race before the Dubai World Cup for the Godolphin team and the trainer thinks he will go well: “We know he is in good shape after his win on turf last time and we think he will be al right on the dirt – in which case he should go close.”
With a full field of 16 declared, Mubarak Bin Shafya’s Happy Boy is another to consider and his jockey Ahmad Ajtebi said: “We knew he had come on a lot from his first run when he ran so well last time. The extra distance will not be a problem and he can go close hopefully.”
There are two Group 2 turf races on the card with the 1777m Jebel Hatta - Daaher, the prep race for the Dubai Duty Free and Dubai City of Gold - Swain, over the same 2400m as the Dubai Sheema Classic, both having maximum fields of 16.
The Jebel Hatta - Daaher concludes the eight race card and Jay Peg, Herman Brown’s 2008 Dubai Duty Free winner clashes again with Japan’s Vodka, who was fourth on that occasion.
Brown is hopeful: “He is coming along well and we know he improves with his racing. It is a tough field and he has a penalty but he is in good form at home.”
Australia’s Valedictum is just another to consider in a wide open race.
Brown is also well represented in the Dubai City of Gold - Swain with Mourilyan, second in the race last year for his previous trainer, perhaps best of his three runners.
De Kock also has three declared, with Front House an interesting contender despite her widest draw.
Luca Cumani’s Purple Moon is a proven Group 1 international performer, while Germany’s Quijano won this in 2007.
De Kock’s 2008 UAE Derby winner Honour Devil faces the maximum 15 rivals in the Group 3 Burj Nahaar – Intidab over 1600m on dirt and he too could be Dubai World Cup bound according to his handler: “The [Dubai] World Cup has been the plan but we have had a race against time with him – but at least he has a good draw on this occasion.”
Stable companion Lucky Find, Scandinavian Echoes Rock and the much improved Snaafy are among a plethora of dangers.
The Group 3 Mahab Al Shimaal - Dayjur, over 1200m on dirt, looks to rest between Godolphin duo Gayego and Diabolical, Saudi Arabia’s Big City Man and Doug Watson’s Barbecue Eddie – though Brown saddles three-year-old Redding Colliery who receives lumps of weight.