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Carnival time! - Dubai World Cup Carnival News

11/01/2018
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Virtually since the entries were announced for the first meeting of the UAE season, at Jebel Ali in November, the words ‘Dubai World Cup Carnival’ have been on most lips so, finally, it is upon us with the eyes of the racing world sure to be fixed firmly on Meydan this Thursday. Those not so absorbed in the UAE domestic scene as we at Al Adiyat are might even argue they have been salivating over the prospect of the $10.87 million carnival ever since Arrogate produced what was to remain the world’s best individual performance on a racecourse in 2017. Perennial Champion Owners Godolphin, as you would expect, have dominated the international extravaganza, inaugurated in 2004, and are sure to enjoy plenty of winners again in 2018.

Godolphin stalwart, Saeed bin Suroor, the winningmost trainer in the event’s history and eight times Champion Trainer including every year between 2008 and 2015, is seeking a staggering 207th winner since 2004, taking into account his Dubai World Cup card victories. Thirteen was enough to clinch last year’s title, two ahead of fellow Godolphin handler, Charlie Appleby and with the latter sure to have strong contenders throughout, and trainers such as Andre Fabre set to have Godolphin runners, another owners’ crown appears assured.

Of the international contingent, Mike de Kock has been the standout and has greeted 147 winners so is fast closing in on the landmark 150. It should be noted the Meydan switch to a dirt surface has lowered his expectations and the majority of the horses he campaigns will be on turf, traditionally more competitive contests. UAE Champion Trainer, Doug Watson, was the handler to interrupt the Bin Suroor bandwagon in 2016 when he saddled an amazing 1-2-3 in the Godolphin Mile and is, arguably, the most likely to ‘fly the domestic flag’, ably supported by the likes of Ali Rashid Al Rayhi, Satish Seemar and Erwan Charpy of the ‘local stalwarts’.

Meanwhile, Salem bin Ghadayer, who trains at Fazza Stables predominantly for Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohd, appears the emerging force among those permanently based in the UAE. His five victories at the 2017 carnival was highlighted by an unforgettable double on Super Saturday, headlined by the win of Long River in the featured Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3. Of the jockeys we are likely to witness in regular action, Christophe Soumillon, second only to Frankie Dettori in the overall figures, leads the way on 67. His nine victories in 2017 were to clinch top jockey honours, two ahead of William Buick, Mickael Barzalona and Adrie de Vries.

Of that trio, Barzalona, who rode both Bin Ghadayer’s Super Saturday winners, on 43 is fast approaching the landmark half century and Buick looks likely to have another strong carnival with his alliance with Godolphin and Charlie Appleby. Soumillon, De Vries and Barzalona are all likely to be seen in Godolphin blue as well when other commitments allow. So, fasten your seatbelts and step aboard the 2018 carnival, certain to fly by given the precedent of recent renewals.

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