Author: Stephen Molyneux

Anticipation for the Dubai World Cup Carnival went up a notch last week with the timely release of those nominated to travel to Dubai from abroad, a welcome early release for those charged with the task of promoting the three month jamboree in various forms of media. Granted, there will be a lot of names on the list of 202 accepted horses who don’t arrive in Dubai, and probably a few where there was never a serious intention to, but the foundations are there and granted clear sailing we are set for a strong overseas challenge. Regards the timing: we had to wait until about a week before last year’s carnival for the same release and whilst it is difficult to comprehend what goes on behind the scenes and the logistics involved, it is surely better for everyone that we know here and now just what is going on, particularly for the trainers, who can now embark on a set training routine to get their horses here in prime condition.

With prize money increases left, right and centre, it is not hard to see why so many familiar faces are coming back, and hopefully some new ones as well with Australia and America set to be represented throughout the nine meetings. Kenny McPeek has already gone on record as saying he will bring his team over, an ambitious trainer who has targeted foreign riches before with his Daddys Lil Darling. That excursion didn’t exactly go to plan to put it mildly but clearly unnerved, we look forward to welcoming McPeek in the coming weeks. The Australian challenge is numerically strong at this stage; David Hayes is surely likely to head this way once more after the success of Faatinah last year. HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum continues to have a strong representation within the yard making it even more likely we see his team head over, and he could be joined by Chris Waller, who surely has not nominated 15 horses just for the sake of keeping his admin team busy.

Ties between Korea and Dubai continue to grow, Wild Dude running at their main international meeting during the summer and we look forward to welcoming the Koreans back with five potential runners. We know from previous experience they will be hard knocking, and more importantly very competitive. Talking over overseas racing, the Hong Kong International meeting is due to take place this Sunday and it will largely pass me by with this meeting invariably having the feeling of an afterthought for me. It comes at the end of a long, hard season for many European raiders with only really the Hong Kong Vase looking a race in which the home team look vulnerable.

Historically that has been the case, too, with only Dominant in 2013 ensuring the prize remains in Hong Kong in recent memory. The Vase is the longest race on the card and, just as we had seen in the Melbourne Cup, it seems producing good stayers is very much a European thing. The Hong Kong Sprint looks virtually impenetrable for overseas runners, but fair play to David Elsworth in having a go with Sir Dancealot, unlikely to be good enough on all known evidence but at least having Gerald Mosse on his side who has a better understanding of Sha Tin than most. You suspect the outcome of this race may have some bearing on the Al Quoz, although the Hong Kong sprinters have been reluctant to travel in recent years so time will only tell on that score.

And finally, normal racing duties resume in the UAE this week with three meetings, the last seven days having felt dull to put it mildly. It did at least give several from the weighing room the opportunity to fly back and celebrate the wedding of Shane Foley over the weekend, superb planning on his score.

International challenge looks strong, numerically at least