Horses | Horse News
A remarkable 63 trainers from 12 countries have had 158 horses accepted to compete in the nine-meeting Dubai World Cup Carnival, which culminates in the World Cup itself on 27 March.
Of course, the 2020 Cup meeting had to be scrapped as Covid descended on the world. That and diminished racing and stakes throughout the world have sparked keener interest than usual in the mega prizes on offer in the desert.
Among the invading throng is South Africa’s Mike de Kock, who has less firepower than in previous years but could still pay to follow judiciously with a hardy and settled string in his Blue Stables.
De Kock saddles just one runner on Thursday, King Ragnar in the Dubai Dash, the seventh and final race on the card. This four-year-old colt is a newcomer, having recently transferred from Roger Varian’s care in the UK, where he performed consistently in recording two wins from 10 runs.
This 1000m sprint appears to be on the sharp side for the maturing King Ragnar and is probably a bit of a test run and pipe-opener.
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Two visitors from the UK – Equilateral from Charlie Hills’s yard and Lazuli from that of Charlie Appleby – appear to be fit and firing sprinters who could dominate the betting. Dubai fixture Doug Watson sends out Ekhtiyaar to bother the raiders.
Thursday’s headline event is round 1 of the Al Maktoum Challenge, a Group 2 with a stake of $228,000 (about R3.4 million) over 1600m on dirt.
The top-rated runner is locally-trained Capezzano, who won two from four last term before Covid-19 spoiled the party.
One to watch might be Gifts of Glory, a UK-Dubai shuttler trained by Saeed bin Suroor for Godolphin. Frankie Dettori continues to mend bridges with the “Boys in Blue” by taking the ride here – and elsewhere on the card for Bin Suroor.
In an interview with the British Racing Post this week, Dettori said he would be staying on in Dubai for the full season due to onerous quarantine regulations for travellers in Europe.
The world’s most famous rider said he hopes to link up with the John Gosden-trained Dubai Warrior, who was shipped out from the UK to Meydan last week.
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He also hopes to ride at the Saudi Cup meeting at Riyadh next month, for which Gosden has Dubai Warrior, Global Giant and Mishriff entered.
Dettori could also be reunited with the speedy A’Ali, who has options at the Carnival and is already at Meydan as part of Simon and Ed Crisford’s latest satellite operation. He has won four races on the son of Society Rock, including the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2019.
Crisford has the biggest Carnival team, in terms of number of horses accepted for the big races, followed by Bahraini-based Carnival regular Fawzi Nass.
The latter’s string is headed by Bahrain International winner Simsir and stablemate Port Lions, who scored on the Saudi Cup card in February.
Group 1 winners Oxted and Lord Glitters are named among the British contingent, which also features Melbourne Cup stalwart Prince Of Arran and St Leger runner-up Berkshire Rocco, plus Certain Lad and Equilateral, who both won races at Meydan at the 2020 carnival.
Midnight Sands, who completed a five-timer last season in Dubai, is back with six-time Dubai champion Watson after a stint in America.
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South America is represented by Antonio Cintra from Uruguay and Freddy Nossar from Peru.
De Kock, who stepped out two young recruits at last week’s non-Carnival Meydan meeting, has a few familiar names among his seven-pronged attack. Highly-rated Majestic Mambo has had time to acclimatise to the desert, while tough-as-teak Janoobi has always been a reliable sort. South African racing fans will also recognise the name Marshall and the buzz that followed him around Highveld courses.
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