Trainer Simon Crisford has announced exciting winter plans to set up a satellite operation in Dubai in the new year with 14 horses due to make the trip. The Newmarket handler has plenty of experience of such initiatives having spent many winters in the UAE at Al Quoz Stables in his former role as racing manager to Godolphin. This time around, Crisford is to be based close to Meydan racecourse at Millennium Stables where he is to rent boxes from the Dubai Racing Club for his team. Among those on the plane to Dubai, which is to depart the day after Boxing Day, are Queen Elizabeth II Stakes third Century Dream, Group Three winner Sporting Chance and Group Three placed African Ride all of whom could end up racing on Dubai World Cup night on 30 March.
Rather than international visitor status, as he will be operating as a domestic Dubai trainer, Crisford will also be able to run some of his team at domestic meetings at Meydan as well as support fixtures at Jebel Ali and Abu Dhabi. Crisford said: “Setting up a proper satellite operation in Dubai is something I’ve had in mind for a while. A lot of my owners are in Dubai and the prize money is so great. Opportunities are abundant especially for our American-bred horses who we hope can take to the dirt track at Meydan. “The facilities are fantastic and Paul Holley, who won the Triumph Hurdle on Oh So Risky, is to be our senior member of staff permanently based out there for the winter. Obviously myself and my son and assistant Edward will commute there, but everything in the Newmarket stable remains the same.”
Crisford, who created a big impact in 2018 with his first ever Royal Ascot winner and over £1 million in prize money, added: “There are 14 horses earmarked to leave on 27 December and after six days in quarantine some of them could run at the first meeting of the carnival on 4 January.” The Newmarket trainer finalised his Dubai team after a racecourse gallop morning at Chelmsford on Friday. He said: “African Ride, who won at Deauville this year, is dirt bred as he’s by Candy Ride out of a Kris S mare and he could head to the first leg of the Maktoum Challenge on 11 January. “Century Dream, who finished an excellent third to Roaring Lion at Ascot last time, will start a bit later in the Group 2 Zabeel Mile with a view to the Group 1 Dubai Turf on World Cup night.”
Others of note heading for some Gulf sunshine include Sporting Chance, winner of a Group Three at Maisons-Laffitte last time as well as a few fillies including last week’s Lingfield winner Turn’n Twirl. Crisford added: “Turn’n Twirl and Starry Eyes will run in the UAE 1000 Guineas Trial on the opening night of the carnival. Beyond that we are taking out a few old favourites like Mutawathea and Trollius, who is owned by Lady O’Reilly, plus Mrs Doreen Tabor’s Match Maker, who has had a year off.” If all goes well, the satellite operation could be an annual one and Crisford said: “I’d like to thank Saeed Al Tayer and Malih Al Basti, both instrumental in enabling this project to go ahead. I’m hoping this will be an ongoing winter programme for us and there is sure to be increased interest in Dubai as they build towards Expo 2020.”