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Posted 2023-03-20 12:11:52  
Country Grammer works well for Dubai World Cup defence

Trackwork notes, 20/3/23

Group 1 Dubai World Cup (sponsored by Emirates Airline)

Defending Dubai World Cup champion Country Grammer was the star attraction on the main track, breezing tight to the inside rail under Antonio Fresu.

Assistant to trainer Bob Baffert, Jimmy Barnes said: “Country Grammer arrived here directly after his assignment in Saudi Arabia and shipped well. He likes the surface here and this is more of a trip that would suit him.

“He exercised over five-eighths and went nicely under Antonio Fresu; the jockey was happy with the way he worked.”

Following barely thirty seconds behind Country Grammer was Japan Cup hero Vela Azul, while compatriots TO Keynes, Cafe Pharoah and Ushba Tesoro were also in action.

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Group 1 Longines Dubai Sheema Classic

Botanik made his first trip outside France a fruitful one when chasing home Win Marilyn in the Longines Hong Hong Vase last December and now spearheads a four-strong squad from 31-time champion trainer of France, André Fabre.

Fabre’s travelling head lad, Richard Lambert said: “He is different now to when he was in Hong Kong. You can see that he is a horse that has travelled before. He isn’t looking around at everything so much and has clicked into his work much quicker.”

Botanik was only asked for steady canter in the company of Dubai Gold Cup candidate Sober.

Lambert said: “They’ve gone around 1,600 metres this morning. It’s the first time they’ve been out on this track and we just wanted to see how they are. They won’t do much more than that all week. It’s just a case of keeping them ticking over.”

Caspar Fownes, trainer of Senor Toba: “He’s been a little bit disappointing on face value, but he’s had some internal issues, mostly mucus. We’ve been trying to break that down and get him to recover. If he comes good, there’s no reason he can’t pick up some prize-money, even if it is one of the strongest races we have seen at this meeting.

“I am looking forward to getting to Meydan tomorrow to see him working. It’s meant a lot to see my son Ronan looking after Senor Toba, both in Qatar and then here in Dubai. He’s a great young man and we will be working together as a team this week to get Senor Toba to the race as good as he can be.

“It’s nice to be able to travel again and, no matter what happens, it’s going to be the making of this horse for the future; it will toughen him up and he will be a proper horse for us going forward. We’ve enjoyed our trips to Dubai in the past and, usually, our horses have returned to Hong Kong better for the experience.”

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Group 1 Dubai Turf (sponsored by DP World)

Japanese trainers have enjoyed more success in this race than any other at the meeting and Do Deuce, Serifos and Danon Beluga were among those to breeze on the main track under cover of darkness at 5am.

Owners Alain and Gerard Wertheimer landed the Turf back in 2015 with Solow and have a progressive candidate this time round with Junko, a first time traveller for Andre Fabre.

Travelling head lad Richard Lambert said: “It’s surprised me how quickly he has adapted. I didn’t necessarily expect that but the way he’s handling everything is pleasing. All of ours seem well and are eating up. They all seem happy to be here.”

Another visitor to the main track was Hong Kong-based Glorious Dragon.

Trainer Pierre Ng said: “It’s a dream come true to have two runners abroad in my first season as a trainer. This is probably the toughest middle distance turf race you can find.

“He’s been running well since coming back from his fetlock surgeries last summer. His run in the Hong Kong Gold Cup, where he was fourth to Golden Sixty, he finished exactly the same marginbehind Hong Kong’s champion as he was two seasons ago in the same race so I think he’s still got it.”

Ng added: “The draw is important with him, but we’ve got a good rider in Neil Callan and of all of the Hong Kong horses, he is the one who has really seemed to enjoy being in a new environment.”

Antonio Fresu, jockey of Shirl’s Speight: “He is a Grade 1 winner and another good horse that I am pleased to ride. He was very strong in finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Mile and appears to have carried that form to Dubai. He has been working well in the morning and just seems to love the track.”

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Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen (sponsored by Nakheel)

Jeremiah O’Dwyer, trainer of Sibelius: “I have been very pleased how he has travelled over andacclimated to Dubai. He had his final piece of work this morning. We picked up his gallop at thehalf mile pole, with regular rider. Chelsie Raabe, aboard, and just let him stretch his legs downthe stretch and he looked great.

“The timing of how everything has been spaced out since the win in the Pelican Stakes has been perfect and he could not be doing any better. We are going to paddock school him in the night schooling session at 6 PM tonight.”

Michael Costa, trainer of Mouheeb: “His preparation has been perfect since he’s returned from Super Saturday and he’s coming around at the right time. We’ve been able to train him how we want to and we are going to train him out of the pool as he had an issue there and was underdone for Super Saturday. But his recovery since then has been perfect.”

Antonio Fresu, jockey of C Z Rocket: “I just breezed him today. He’s a nine-year-old but he’s clearly still got it. He finished a solid second behind Elite Power in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint and seems to be in very good form. I rode him this morning and he handled the surface well. I think he can run big here.”

Jimmy Barnes, assistant to Bob Baffert, trainer of Hopkins: “He had a short breeze this morning,racing three quarters just to wake him up a bit. He arrived fine and is looking good with Antonio quite happy with the way he performed and handled his work over the surface.”

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Group 2 UAE Derby

While Broome (Dubai Gold Cup) and Order Of Australia (Dubai Turf) are experienced globetrotters, Cairo is a new addition to Aidan O’Brien’s team and cantered at the rear of the trio.

O’Brien’s travelling head lad, Pat Keating, said: “He has travelled here fit and well after winning at Dundalk a few weeks ago [in the Listed Patton Stakes on March 3]. The two older horses are showing him the ropes but he’s happy enough. The plan is that they will come out onto the main track here every morning at 7am.”

Antonio Cintra Pereira, trainer of Es-Unico: “He has come back very well from a very good run in the Saudi Derby when he was fourth, beaten just two lengths. That distance was 1,600 metres and he will be much better over 1,900 metres on Saturday. The extra 300 metreswill make a big difference. He races around the middle of the field and the more pace, the better for him. Joao Moreira is riding him again and it will help that he knows him better after their first experience together in Riyadh.

“We have had runners in this race before: El Patriota finished midfield a few years ago and Quality Boone was fifth last year. But this horse is the best I have had for the UAE Derby.”

Ahmad bin Harmash, trainer of Mr Raj: “We were very happy with how he returned after his Super Saturday assignment in the Listed Al Bastakiya - which is the course and distance prep for the UAE Derby - where he was only just caught late in the race. He worked on Saturday and we gave him a serious piece of work to do and he passed the test. Ray Dawson - who rode him on Super Saturday and will ride him again in the Derby - was very pleased with what he experienced, so we are hopeful.”

Jimmy Barnes, assistant to Bob Baffert, trainer of Worcester: “He did a workout over five-eights this morning and was pretty good handling the surface. He shipped fine and the workouts have gone very well. Antonio rode him this morning and he was happy with how he handled the track.”

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Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint (sponsored by Azizi Developments)

Abubakr Al Hefnawy, assistant to Rashed Bouresly, trainer of Miqyaas: “He’s doing really well and is in good shape. We have been training him at home and he has been doing all that has been asked of him.”

Ahmad bin Harmash, trainer of Thunder of Niagara: “He has been improving rapidly since his last race and we are very happy with the kind of heart he’s shown. He has done everything that’s been asked of him. I think he’s prepped-up to deliver a very good performance in the race and I think this distance will suit him perfectly. He has been looking very comfortable and has always been a good horse around the yard.”

John Size, trainer of Sight Success: “We gave him a barrier trial last Tuesday and it was normal for him. He’s about six weeks between runs going into Saturday’s race but, with this particular horse, I’d prefer that. The sprinting competition in Hong Kong is very strong and it appeared to me that he would have been running for place money at home for the rest of the season.

“Now that we are back in business and able to travel again, it appealed as a good option against different competition. We thought that he would handle the journey as a fairly seasoned horse and it seems that he has done so. A 1,200 metre straight race, which is not available to him at Sha Tin, was also another factor and I think he should run it strongly as long as it is not run too briskly.”

Pierre Ng, trainer of Duke Wai: “He’s been running consistently in Hong Kong. We just have to get the jockey to get him out of the gates well and then travel well behind the pace, which Jerry Chau did last time. He showed us what he is capable of last time. I think the Meydan 1,200 metres will suit him, he has run pretty well over the 1000m in a Group 3 at Sha Tin – that day, he was unlucky and he wasn’t far from Sight Success so with luck, he can get closer. He is fit so he won’t do too much before Saturday.”

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Group 1 Dubai Gold Cup (sponsored by Al Tayer Motors)

German-trained hope Sisfahan finished sixth on his first try at a staying trip in Riyadh last month and connections are expecting an improved effort on Saturday.

Natascha Grewe, wife and assistant to trainer Henk, said: “He has always been a good traveller. He’s an older horse who likes flying and loves the sun and the warm weather. We think he’s much better than in Saudi Arabia, which was his first time out this year. He’s doing very well here and we’re hopeful he can finish in the money.”

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Group 2 Godolphin Mile

Bhupat Seemar, trainer of Discovery Island, Law of Peace and Royal Mews: “Discovery Island is doing really well and he won impressively on Super Saturday. James Doyle knows him well and keeps the ride, while Law Of Peace will go under Richard Mullen. He is a very consistent horse and likes to come from the back so, if there’s a good enough pace in the race, he’ll be finishing well.

“Tadhg O’Shea takes the ride on Royal Mews. He’s a very good horse and he won a handicap during the Dubai World Cup Carnival programme. He was then a close second and later finished third behind Discovery Island on Super Saturday. He’s been doing really well and all we need for him to break well on the day.”

Ahmed Al Shemaili, trainer of Desert Wisdom: “He was put through a steady canter and did normal work today. Nothing too taxing for him, but he will do something more serious for his last piece of work on Wednesday, which should set him up nicely for the race.

“We are happy with the way he went through the season and we’ve been satisfied with what we’ve seen this morning.”

Antonio Cintra, trainer of Atletico El Culano: “He is a very well bred horse but he has somehow lacked a bit of luck here in Dubai. We are happy with the way he is handling his training these days and this morning he had a good run and handled it well yet again, so hopefully he can put in a good performance.”

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PA Group 1 Dubai Kahayla Classic (sponsored by Emaar)

Ahmad bin Harmash, trainer of Barakka: “He is a well bred horse and has been doing very well in training. We decided not to run him on Super Saturday because we wanted to keep him fresh for the Kahayla. He likes to run fresh and all preparations so far have gone well with him. He worked well Saturday and we are happy with him overall.”

Antonio Fresu, jockey of Rajeh: “He is an old horse but he’s a multiple Group 1 winner and he’s been doing well in the mornings. We were a bit disappointed with him in the Obaiya Arabian Classic in Saudi Arabia and there might have been several reasons for that, perhaps did not like track and trip, but he seems well now that he is back here at Meydan.”

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