GODOLPHIN TRAINER Charlie Appleby may not have a Blue Point to aim with at the Dubai World Cup Carnival, but he does have a potent string that has already arrived in the city and is currently in training at his UAE base at Marmoom. Multiple Group winner Ghaiyyath leads a pack that also comprises Group 1 Melbourne Cup winner and Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup victor Cross Counter, with last year’s Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic champion Old Persian another seasoned name on the roster. While Appleby has confirmed Ghaiyyath, a 5yo son of Dubawi, will go straight for the Sheema on Dubai World Cup day, Old Persian is expected to try and defend said Group One affair, which he won last year, after he successfully tackled the course and distance Super Saturday equivalent in the form of the 2410m Group 2 Dubai City of Gold.
Ghaiyyath has won five of his eight career starts and arrives after a tenth placing in the Group 1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp on 6 October, a race that followed the only top tier victory of his career in the Group 1 Grosser Preis von Baden at Baden-Baden in September. Before making the trip to Germany, Ghaiyyath nailed the Group 2 Prix d’Harcourt at ParisLongchamp and then placed third on soft ground in the Group 1 Prix Ganay at the same venue. “History shows us he goes well fresh and he puts in a big performance off a break but we also now think that he doesn’t like soft ground. It was perfect for him in the Harcourt, which he won, but it was much too soft when he was turned over in the Ganay,” Appleby said.
“He was very impressive on good, fast ground in Germany but it was a different story in the Arc, where it was slow and he just couldn’t quicken through it. “Hopefully the good ground at Meydan will suit him perfectly and the plan is to take him straight to the Sheema Classic.” On the other hand, Cross Counter arrived straight from Australia after finishing eighth in his bid to defend his Melbourne Cup title. He did the same last term when heading straight for the Dubai City of Gold, which he won by a length and a quarter from stablemate Ispolini. Asked to tackle some of Europe’s toughest staying races, he finished fourth behind Stradivarius in the Group 1 Gold Cup at Royal Ascot and then took a third behind the same foe in the Group 1 Goodwood Cup Stakes before another fourth in the Group 1 Irish St Leger at The Curragh, which turned out to be his last race before he was shipped to Melbourne.
Old Persian showed a similar penchant for travel in 2019 when taking third in the 129th running of the Group 1 Grosser Preis von Berlin at Hoppegarten in August before being flown Stateside. There, he ran brilliantly to win the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes at Woodbine in Canada and then was 11th in a field of 12 runners in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita. And the Newmarket-based Appleby seems content with his set, two of which Zaman and Lucius Tiberius finished sixth and tenth in the Dubai Racing Club Classic, a Listed handicap over 2410m on turf on the opening night of the carnival. He said: “We’ve no standouts like Blue Point for the carnival this year. “But we have a good team of older horses such as Cross Counter, Old Persian and Ghaiyyath, as well as some promising 3yos, some of which were in action on the opening night.”
Appleby left Pinatubo behind as he prepares him for the Irish 2000 Guineas in May. “After discussions with HH Sheikh Mohammed we’ve decided to leave Pinatubo in Newmarket for the winter,” Appleby said. “He’s progressing well physically at the moment and once we have the festive period out of the way it will be full steam ahead for the 2000 Guineas. We’ve decided to do what’s best for the horse and we’ve had a relatively mild winter in Newmarket until now, hopefully it stays that way.”