With 23 winners thus far, Godolphin have totally dominated the 2019 Dubai World Cup Carnival and it is hard to see that changing this evening, although, with no Purebred Arabians in their arsenal, the 2000m Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge for the Thoroughbreds’ cousins will not be heading their way (was I the only one who heard a collective sigh of relief from those who specialise in Purebred Arabians?). Anyway, I digress and the main Thoroughbred contest, the Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy, over 2810m on the turf, attracted nine entries on Monday, five from Godolphin.
Charlie Appleby, responsible for 16 of the 23 Godolphin victories, saddles both Ispolini, a course and distance winner six weeks ago, as well as the exciting Brundtland. The latter, a 4yo Dubawi colt, has just five runs to his name and just the one defeat, on his most recent start when he probably did exceptionally well to finish a close fourth having almost been carried off the track by another runner about 900m out. That was in the 3000m Group 1 Prix Royal-Oak at Chantilly, the same trip over which he had previously won the Group 2 Prix Chaudenay on Arc weekend at ParisLongchamp. He could, in all reality, prove a different class to his six opponents and is not surprisingly the choice of William Buick.
Also in the royal blue, Bin Battuta would appear the main hope of two Saeed bin Suroor runners but is seeking to bounce back after a perhaps lacklustre effort when third to the aforementioned Ispolini in a 2400m turf handicap five weeks ago. He was a winner over the same course and distance three weeks previously after which both his trainer and jockey, Christophe Soumillon, suggested this race would really suit him. Over 2000m on dirt, so the same course and distance as the world’s most valuable horse race, the $12 million Dubai World Cup, the field for the Listed Curlin Handicap includes both the two most recent winners.
Twelve months ago it was Saltarin Dubai for Satish Seemar and Richard Mullen, a pairing enjoying a very fruitful 2019 carnival. A Group One winner in his native Argentina, that was actually his first UAE success on what was his fifth start for Seemar having initially arrived for the 2017 carnival with Mike de Kock. He returned to the winner’s enclosure on his most recent outing, a handicap over this 2000m on dirt, and looks sure to run well again under what appear his optimum conditions.
Third last year, when staying on stoutly, was the 2017 winner, Etijaah, trained by Doug Watson for Sheikh Hamdan and one of the few horses who actually appears to relish the kickback on the Meydan dirt surface (not sure his jockeys share the feeling!). In winning this two years ago, the homebred 9yo, admittedly in receipt of lumps of weight, defeated Mubtaahij, was second, fourth and third in three attempts at the Dubai World Cup as well as winner of the 2015 UAE Derby and, in October 2017, a Grade One victor at Santa Anita. Etijaah did win again, over course and distance, in the December 2017 Entisar, but has not tasted victory since, albeit facing some very difficult tasks.
Also a Listed race but on turf and restricted to 3yos, the 1600m Meydan Classic appears something of a conundrum for Pick Six players with a case to be made for many. Victorious in the 1400m trial, Golden Jaguar had previously won his only other start, a 1000m conditions race at Jebel Ali, thus on dirt, and looks an exciting prospect for the Phoenix Ladies Syndicate. Sporting Chance may, especially on official ratings, have just that for Simon Crisford but has not really sparked in his three UAE outings, including when third to Golden Jaguar in the trial. He is a Group Three winner in France though and cannot be dismissed out of hand.
Also from Britain, in this case Mark Johnston, Victory Command is another to consider. The 1900m trip seemed to catch him out last time. For Seemar and the Parmar family, Lady Parma was forced to miss the UAE Oaks last week when, reportedly, ‘inapettent’. Hopefully her appetite has returned and she could surprise a few receiving weight from the boys. Seemingly thriving on a busy schedule, this will be his eighth outing of the season, Goshawke could be the one to beat in the 2000m Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3. Victorious in the second and middle round, over 2200m, he is certain to be staying on strongly, as is last year’s winner, Ziyadd, representing Jean de Roualle and Yas Horse Racing Management. AF Al Sajanjle and Chaddad are two others to mention but Goshawke could turn out to be a bit special.