where the horse is always the hero
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Posted 2023-03-02 11:21:44  
Global Stars at Meydan

It’s the second-biggest day of the year at Meydan Racecourse and ‘Super Saturday’ has certainly lived up to billing, with bumper field sizes across the nine races and runners from 13 different countries.

The official highlight of what is a well-established Dubai World Cup trials day is G1 Maktoum Challenge R3, sponsored by Emirates Airline, a prep race for the $12million Dubai World Cup itself.

The field of 14 includes four Group 1 winners, one of which is the Fawzi Nass-trained Salute The Soldier, successful in this race in 2021. If he wins again, he will be the first dual winner of the contest, which dates back to 1994.

“He’s in good form,” said jockey Adrie de Vries. “Last time he stumbled coming out of the gate, overreached and pulled a shoe. That cost him his position early on and he was at the back of the field and got a lot of dirt, which he doesn’t really like. You can forget about that run.

“He doesn’t have the best of draws [10] on Saturday, but if we can overcome that and get a good position out of the kickback then I’m hopeful he’s going to run another big race.”

Taking him on is four trained by Bhupat Seemar. Bendoog will be ridden by James Doyle, Kafoo by Dane O’Neill, Law Of Peace by Tadhg O’Shea and Sanad Libya by Richie Mullen.

“Bendoog is drawn in four and he’s done really well this year,” said Seemar. “He’s kept on improving with every run and he was quite impressive when he was behind a very talented horse in Algiers last time. He’s a forward-going horse with a good draw, so hopefully he’ll get a good break.”

Kafoo was fourth in this race 12 months ago and arrives here after finishing fourth in the G3 Jebel Ali Mile last time out.

“Kafoo has also done well and this is his true distance,” said Seemar. “He’s drawn well in eight as he doesn’t want to be too far in or too far out.

“The other two horses come from the back, so if the pace is fast it will suit Law Of Peace and Sanad Libya.”

There is strong South American representation with Brazilian born, Uruguay-based Antonio Cintra sending out Atletico El Culano and course and distance winner Ajuste Fiscal.

“Both of the horses are in good condition and have had strong seasons here, against practically the same horses they face here,” said the multiple Uruguay Champion Trainer. “We are confident both will run good races and give themselves a chance of qualifying for World Cup night.

“The final workouts for both left us very happy and they look fantastic.”

The Group 1 Jebel Hatta, prep for the G1 Dubai Turf, is the third top level race on the card. Run over 1800metres on turf, it has attracted a field of 15, including defending champion Alfareeq who will make history if able to win this for a second time.

There is an exciting challenger from overseas in Russian Emperor, who will be the first runner in Dubai for 13-time Hong Kong Champion Jockey Douglas Whyte, who has been riding the Group 1 winner in trackwork during the week.

The son of Galileo arrived in Dubai fresh from Amir’s Trophy success in Doha and Whyte is viewing this race as a prep for the G1 Longines Dubai Sheema Classic.

“Saturday is going to be a stepping stone for my horse and myself," said the South African, who rode as a jockey several times in Dubai. “He’s got barrier three so I can see him settling, probably, worse than midfield. Hopefully, he can work home and run a creditable race for Hong Kong, and then its on to the Sheema Classic.”

Four go for Godolphin; two trained by Charlie Appleby and two by Saeed bin Suroor, who has won this six times.

Bin Suroor fields Land Of Legends and Real World (pictured), who returns to action for the first time since being gelded and since chasing home the great Baaeed in the G1 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.

“This will be Real World’s first start since June and I expect him to be 80 to 85 per cent ready for the race,” said the trainer of the 2022 Zabeel Mile winner. “He has had issues in the past but has been working nicely recently. We are treating this very much as a prep-race for the Dubai Turf and he will certainly come on for the run.”

William Buick, stable jockey to Appleby, has elected to ride Master Of The Seas, who made a smooth return to action when winning the G2 Zabeel Mile last time out.

“It was always the plan to head here with Master Of The Seas following the Zabeel Mile and he has a decent draw in stall two,” commented Appleby, who has won this race three times, latterly with Barney Roy in 2020. “While Real World is the class act, we are confident that our horse can be a big player with that run under his belt.”

James Doyle, who won this race in 2015 with Hunter’s Light and again in 2018 with Blair House, partners track record holder Valiant Prince, who is four from four at Meydan.

“Valiant Prince is drawn wide in 14, which will make it quite a challenge for him,” added Appleby. “He has done nothing wrong in his two starts this year and can prove a big player if he can get a clear run round.”

With Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Rebel’s Romance sadly missing the race due to a leg inflammation, Appleby relies on Global Storm and Kemari in the G2 Dubai City Of Gold [sponsored by Emirates SkyCargo], which is the prep for the G1 Longines Dubai Sheema Classic. He comes up against two trained by Bin Suroor in Global Heat and the well-regarded White Wolf.

“Global Heat will be suited by the return to a mile and a half. He came out of the Nad Al Sheba Trophy in good order and I am hoping for a good performance,” said the trainer. “White Wolf ran well on his first start of year but didn’t handle dirt in the Curlin Handicap. I am looking forward to seeing how he gets on, as he is a horse I like.” 

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