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By Mike Moon

Horse racing correspondent

Fields unveiled for Dubai World Cup meeting

Scores of raiders are flying in from Japan, the US and Europe.

Defending champion Ushba Tesoro of Japan, Saudi Cup winner Senor Buscador of the US and US Breeders’ Cup Classic runner-up Derma Sotogake of Japan are among a projected lineup of 13 for the $12-million (R224-million) Dubai World Cup on 30 March.

A total of 33 individual thoroughbred Group 1 winners are among horses from 13 countries expected to compete at Meydan racecourse at the World Cup meeting, which carries total prize money of $30.5-million (R570-million).

There are no South African representatives at a fixture the country graced with distinction for a decade and more. This absence is largely due to EU horse export restrictions arising out of bureaucratic fears about African horse sickness.

A comprehensive audit of South African veterinary protocols by the EU in 2023 has raised hopes that the onerous restrictions – which include lengthy pre-flight quarantine periods in Western Cape, or the likes of Mauritius – might be lifted soon. Whether those changes happen before the next Dubai racing season remains to be seen.

Japanese horses

In contrast to South Africa’s absence is Japan’s burgeoning presence at the iconic meeting in the Emirati desert.

Ushba Tesoro is one of 24 runners set to ship in from Japan for the meeting, reports Thoroughbred Daily News.

Trained by Noboru Tagaki, the late bloomer is trying to become the first seven-year-old World Cup winner since the Brazilian champion Gloria de Campeao, who pipped South African contender Lizard’s Desire back in 2010, and just the third overall.

Ushba Tesoro, runner-up in the recent Group 1 Saudi Cup, is joined in the main event by three compatriots.

There are five American challengers, led by shock Saudi winner Senor Buscador, trained by Todd Fincher. 

Four-time World Cup winner Bob Baffert will saddle Group 1 Santa Anita Handicap hero Newgate.

TDN reports that Kabirkhan has been the “talking horse” of the Dubai International Racing Carnival thus far and will have his supporters to become a first World Cup winner for perennial local leading trainer Doug Watson.

Kabirkhan is by California Chrome, a celebrated US Hall of Famer who won two legs of the US Triple Crown and was 2015 runner-up and 2016 winner of the Dubai World Cup.

Other races

Dubai Turf Club also announced that the $6-million Longines Dubai Sheema Classic has a projected field of 12, with 2022 winner Shahryar aiming to become the first horse to win it twice. He is part of a formidable Japanese team that includes top fillies Liberty Island and Stars On Earth.

Taking them on from Europe is Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Auguste Rodin and Coronation Cup winner Emily Upjohn, while the Godolphin challenge relies on former UAE Derby winner Rebel’s Romance.

Lord North goes for an unprecedented fourth win in the $5-million Dubai Turf. The John and Thady Gosden-trained gelding faces a potential 14 rivals, including Arima Kinen winner Do Deuce and Lord’s North stablemate, the multiple Group 1-winning mare Nashwa.

There are two valuable sprints on the card, including the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen, in which defending champion Sibelius faces last year’s fourth Hopkins. The Japanese challenge here is headed by impressive Riyadh Dirt Sprint winner Remake.

The $1.5-million Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint has an international look, with multiple Group 1 winner Casa Creed travelling from America, Jasper Krone from Japan and several top British runners, including Regional and Emaraaty Ana.

California Spangle, winner of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup last weekend, journeys from Hong Kong.

The projected fields can be seen on the Dubai Racing Club website.

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