where the horse is always the hero
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Posted 2023-03-23 12:45:36  
Dettori and Moriera look to World Cup finale; all the Thursday trackwork news

Wednesday, trackwork notes


Group 1 Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates Airline

Frankie Dettori is looking forward to the opportunity to write a glorious final chapter to the Dubai element of his storied riding career, with defending World Cup champion Country Grammer headlining a book of seven rides on the card.

A repeat of last year’s success was rendered considerably more complicated by Wednesday night’s post-position draw, with Country Grammer berthed in stall 14 of 15.

“It obviously looks a very competitive race,” said Dettori, who undoubtedly feels a greater weight of expectation than when climbing aboard Country Grammer for the first time twelve months ago.

“Beforehand last year we thought that Life Is Good was unbeatable and he probably was until the furlong pole – and then he just collapsed.

“This year there’s more strength in depth. There’s eight Japanese runners, multiple Group 1 winners and a big field. One thing for sure with Country Grammer is that he’s all about leaving everything on the track. You know he’s going to run until the end so I couldn’t ask for a better companion.

“It’s not going to be easy and stall 14 is not ideal. I spoke to Amir Zedan last night and just said that it is what it is. We can’t change it now so let’s get on with it and see how the race unfolds.”

Dettori added: “I can’t really say a bad word about Country Grammer because if you look at his form he’s all guts, he’s a proper horse.

“The way that he ran in the San Antonio Stakes (at Santa Anita on Boxing Day), he was just sharp and was easy. I was outpaced around the turn and I thought I was in trouble, but the same as last year in the World Cup, he just doesn’t know how to give up.

“Sometimes he runs out of runway but you just know that he’s going to give you everything he’s got.”

Victory for Country Grammer would be a fifth in the Dubai World Cup for trainer Bob Baffert, whose assistant Jimmy Barnes reported: “He had a routine gallop early this morning. He came out of Monday’s work well and we are happy how he looks today.”

The three heavily-favoured horses in the lineup all drew outside, though Simon Crisford, joint-trainer of Algiers (stall 13) is concentrating on the form of his charge.

“He’s trained fantastic going into the race and we’re very pleased with him,” Crisford told a media conference at the track. “He’s spot on in terms of his racing weight and moving and eating well. He’s very chilled and relaxed and loves this racetrack. I couldn’t be happier with him.”

Jockey Joao Moreira rode against his Dubai World Cup mount Cafe Pharoah in a track gallop on Wednesday, instead partnering his Dubai Turf-bound stablemate Danon Beluga. Moreira said this morning that he was thrilled with both Noriyuki Hori-trained horses heading into Saturday.

Of Cafe Pharoah, he said: “We’re going to find out on Saturday whether he will run out 2,000m but his run in the Saudi Cup was very good, I couldn’t have been happier without winning. It’s the World Cup, it’s the best of the best, but he’s one of the top contenders from Japan. He deserves his chance.”


Group 1 Dubai Turf, sponsored by DP World

What was surely the last of the week’s significant breezes on the main turf track belonged to the John and Thady Gosden trio of contenders; Lord North, Mosthadaf and Trawlerman.

“I love Lord North to bits,” said Dettori after partnering the Meydan hat-trick seeker. “He has his problems but he always turns up at the right time! I rode him this morning and he seems in good form.”

Joint-trainer Thady Gosden added: “He’s been there and done it here before and I’m happy with how he comes into this year’s race compared to the last two years when he has won it.”

Shirl’s Speight has enjoyed an atypical build-up to his challenge, with the Canada-based six-year-old having arrived early at Meydan following after finishing the down the field in Japan’s February Stakes.

“He has been here since the end of February having come here from Japan when he wasn’t at his best on the dirt track in Tokyo,” explained his trainer, Roger Attfield. “Back on turf from what looks a good draw in two he will race better, I feel. He’s very settled here and he breezed well on the turf for his jockey Antonio Fresu last weekend.

“His best form is over a mile but going a mile-and-and-eighth is within his capabilities. I’m hoping he can stalk the pace and he can quicken well. It looks a very hot race but he’s in good shape.”

Musabbeh Al Mheiri fields Alfareeq in the turf and also runs Raaeb (Godolphin Mile), Danyah (Al Quoz Sprint) and Lahresh (UAE Derby).

He said: "I am very happy with all of my runners going into Saturday's meeting."

Danon Beluga had an easy morning following a testing gallop on Wednesday - in company with Dubai World Cup contender Cafe Pharoah - with jockey Joao Moreira in the saddle.
Moreira said this morning: “He is unexposed which I see as a positive. He hasn’t got too much mileage in his legs. He’s a fresh horse and he’s going into Saturday’s race very well.

"He seems to be a bit immature from what I felt yesterday morning but I think that’s OK because he’s going to get every chance from gate four. I think he is one of my best rides on Saturday, I really believe he has a great winning chance.”

It was the same with Group 1 Mile Championship winner Serifos, coming off a breeze under Damian Lane on Wednesday.
Lane said: “It feels as though they are more relaxed and settled when they are here compared to when they are in Japan. He felt really well, he was really smooth and I think gate five is ideal. We should have every opportunity from there.”


Group 1 Longines Dubai Sheema Classic

Also among the Gosden team's turf breezers was Mostahdaf, who has yet to crack Group 1 company from limited opportunities in the 2021 St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot and the 2022 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, but who earned plenty of rave reviews when making a winning return to action last month.

“The way he won in Riyadh [by seven lengths in the Neom Turf Cup] was beyond our expectations but we always hoped a big performance like that was in him,” said joint-trainer Thady Gosden.

“He is up to 12 furlongs [2,400 metres] now but he has won in Group company at that trip back home. I think he is in the much the same form as Saudi but this is a very strong race.”

Celebrating his actual fourth birthday on Thursday, Equinox paraded in front of the world’s media, seemingly enjoying the lights, the cameras and the hum of excitement generated by his appearance.

Caspar Fownes was grinning from ear to ear as he watched his hulking grey Senor Toba work on the main track at Meydan. The trainer said: “He’s had a bit of mucus since arriving and it’s taken him a bit of a while to get that out of his system. Today is the first day I’ve thought he’s been truly right since he’s come over here and now it’s just a matter of getting him to Saturday.”

Added jockey Frankie Dettori: “I was supposed to ride Emily Upjohn but when she came out, Caspar rang me up and asked me to ride his horse and I am honoured to ride for someone I consider to be a dear friend.”


Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen sponsored by Nakheel

Jun Park, co-owner of Sibelius, said: "We flew in Tuesday and this entire experience so far has been fantastic. Having been on the other side of things hustling the Korea Cup, it is funny being the one being looked after. This is what we dream of, having a horse in a race like this, and we love the way he is doing."

Trainer Jeremiah O’Dwyer added: "We have been drawn low in the majority of his races so we are ok with the number one post. Obviously we will have to ride him out of there but we think he can work out a good trip."


Group 2 UAE Derby sponsored by Atlantis The Royal

Cairo continues to mark himself out as a complete professional, despite the fact the three-year-old son of Quality Road is spotting stablemates Order Of Australia (Turf) and Broome (Gold Cup) plenty of international experience.

“I couldn’t be happier with them,” said Aidan O’Brien’s travelling head lad, Pat Keating. “This morning they had a bit of practice in the stalls to get their eye in, then a trot and a strong canter together. They have pulled up happy and healthy and you can’t ask for more than that.

“Cairo is a young horse being looked after by the two older lads but he has settled in well.”

Dura Erede will become the first Japanese three-year-old to run in the UAE Derby as a Group 1 winner, having taken the Hopeful Stakes on turf at Nakayama in December. He continued his build-up with a solid hit out on the main track.

“He is moving well,” said trainer Manabu Ikezoe. “He arrived here fit and well and he is going well. He likes the dirt and raced on it before so I think this race should be fine for him.”

On Wednesday Christophe Lemaire enjoyed a spin aboard Derma Sotogake, a son of two-time Dubai Golden Shaheen winner Mind Your Biscuits. Saturday’s race will be the Frenchman’s first raceday ride on the colt.

“The owner wanted a jockey who knew Dubai well and obviously Christophe has won here a number of times,” trainer Hidetaka Otonashi said. “If he runs well on Saturday and gets enough points, we would like to go to the Kentucky Derby with him.”

Jockey Joao Moreira recently rode a Group 1 winner in his native Brazil for the first time in 15 years and he hopes he can combine with another Brazilian, Uruguay’s champion trainer Antonio Cintra, to land the UAE Derby.
After riding Es-Unico in an easy gallop this morning, Moreira said: “Unfortunately, the last time he got into interference in the back straight that cost him a better placing.

"With that in mind, I was pleased with how he ran. He is generally a backmarker and so he’s always going to be finishing off. Hopefully, connections ask me to ride him a little bit more confidently and a bit further forward so he can be more competitive earlier. It’s a strong race but I believe he’s a winning chance on what I felt this morning.”


Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint sponsored by AZIZI Developments

Al Dasim continues to please trainer George Boughey in a short spin up the straight on the main dirt track.

Boughey said: “It was nice to get a good draw last night with the pace seemingly on the right side so he’s in great shape.

“He’s a very straightforward horse to train. Ryan King who has ridden him all winter couldn’t be happier with him and it makes my job very easy when you’ve got a sound horse who likes the straight six at Meydan really.

Barry Clohessy, co-owner of Cazadero: “You see Meydan on TV and in pictures but it doesn’t even come close to how grand it all is in person. Fergus (Galvin) and Marc (Detempal) are on their way over here as well and we are really looking forward to it.

“He was a Grade 3 winner as a two-year-old with Steve Asmussen, so when Fergus was able to purchase him last April for $50,000 we were very excited. Brendan [Walsh] and his team have done a great job with him and he's such a class horse, and does everything so easily.”

Doug Watson, trainer of San Donato: "He had his final work on Sunday and he was off Tuesday. He has just been cantering and they’ll canter up until tomorrow (Friday). I am excited about the draw (Gate 14) and of his chances. He is more of a sprinter than a distance runner with a good turn of foot."


Group 1 Dubai Gold Cup sponsored by Al Tayer Motors

Hughie Morrison, trainer of Quickthorn, commented: “All seems well with him and there’s been no travel issues. He did a short sharp blow on the track this morning to show him the track.

“There have been varying reports on the ground. He felt good on it today though Frankie [Dettori] said it was very quick. He’s still holding onto his winter coat so there’s a bit of a doubt as to whether he’s come to himself just yet.

“He showed some fantastic form last season and a replication of that would put him right into the mix. We’re hoping that his “Flightline” performance at York (to win the Group 2 Lonsdale Cup by 14 lengths last August) wasn’t a one-off!”

Doug Watson, trainer of Al Nayyir: "Al Nayyir is a long shot, but he just keeps improving and he’s had a really nice prep going into the race."


Group 2 Godolphin Mile sponsored by One Zaabeel

Doug Watson, trainer of Everfast, Isolate, Prince Eiji and Golden Goal: "All four are doing great and we are really excited about the race. Everfast drew nice and low, while Prince Eiji drew 11 and Golden Goal 13. It’s tough from out there, but we are looking forward to them racing. They need to break sharp with good speed in the race."

Julio Olascoaga, assistant to Antonio Cintra, trainer of Atletico El Culano: It’s been an easy week, Jose da Silva who rides him everyday is happy and confident that he will perform.

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