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Group 1 winners clash in Cape Vedi at Meydan

Thursday’s six-race third meeting of the 2019 Dubai World Cup Carnival is highlighted by the first of the Carnival’s two fillies and mares’ features, the Group 2 $250,000 Cape Verdi (race 4), which is ably supported by five valuable handicaps—three are on turf and two on dirt. The evening, which is sponsored by Azizi Developments, also features the earliest involvement by American-trained horses in Carnival history, as well as the first serious race for stayers with designs on the $1.5 million Dubai Gold Cup (G2) on Mar. 30. First race post time is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. 

CAPE VERDI (Group 2 | $250,000 | 3yo+ fillies & mares)

Seven have been declared for the evening’s official feature, the Cape Verdi sponsored by Azizi Developments (G2) in which Saeed bin Suroor is seeking to saddle the winner for a sixth time and for the fourth year in succession after having landed last year’s renewal with Promising Run and the previous two editions with Very Special. 

From Bin Suroor’s two runners, jockey Christophe Soumillon partners Asoof, a Godolphin homebred 4-year-old filly by Dubawi, while rider Kevin Stott will be aboard stable companion Victory Wave, who is making her second start of the Carnival after finishing sixth behind Another Batt on opening night over 1400m. Both are stepping up in class and out of handicap company, but their handler has a formidable record with improving young fillies markedly on their Dubai excursions.

Bin Suroor said: “Victory Wave has come out of that first race well, improved since and is going very nicely at home. This is a tougher race, but we expect a good run. Asoof has done particularly well since arriving in Dubai. She is only a small filly, but her work has been very good, so we are very much looking forward to running her.”

Charlie Appleby, picture Quentinjlang.com

Charlie Appleby, who won this race in 2014 with Certify, relies on Godolphin’s Poetic Charm, the mount of James Doyle. A 1600m Listed winner in France last year, a campaign that finished in disappointment at Keeneland, she is another homebred Dubawi filly who could improve in her 4-year-old bow.

“After showing a good level of form in France, things did not go to plan in Keeneland, where she had a wide draw,” Appleby said. “The Dubai weather is really suiting her and if she can produce her French form, she will be very competitive.”

Turkey landed the Cape Verdi in its second edition (2005) with Ribella and is represented this time with Peri Lina, a winner of two Group 1s in Turkey in 2018, including one over this 1600m trip. She is joined by Denmark’s recently 2018 Listed-placed Monza and Great Britain’s 2018 Listed winner Mia Tesoro.

However, the main danger to the Godolphin trio could well be Furia Cruzada, trained at Meydan by Frenchman Erwan Charpy and, on her local debut, victorious in the Al Maktoum Challenge R2 (G2) over 1900m on dirt in 2017. Good enough to contest each of the last two Dubai World Cups, she was a Grade 1 turf winner before leaving her native South America and looks a big threat under Antonio Fresu.

Charpy said: “She is in good form and running against her own gender, when she will be the oldest runner in the race, so it looked a good spot for her. Her last piece of work, on turf, was very good and she has improved a lot with two runs under her belt this season.”

Remainder of Card

American handler Kenny McPeek adds extra interest to the card and will become the first trainer from the U.S. to be involved so early in a Dubai World Cup Carnival. He saddles two runners; half his local contingent and one for each surface. First up is Honourable Treasure who, under Pat Cosgrave, faces seven rivals in a 1200m dirt handicap, including the swift Almanaara, who will to be ridden by Jim Crowley for His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Doug Watson. Speaking of American form, New York-bred Pop the Hood will hope to shut the bonnet on this field in what will be his UAE unveiling. Previously based in his birth-state with Rodrigo Ubillo and another with impeccable pace, he was a private acquisition by Touch Gold Racing and trains with Watson, as well. 

McPeek’s other invader is Harlan Strong, who races for his trainer and Paul Fireman of Reebok fame.  In tough, he takes his chance in the penultimate race, the Azizi Star over 2000m on turf. He will be ridden by Dane O’Neill and shows a strong Grade 3 placing in his recent past performances. 

Otto Draper, assistant trainer to McPeek, said: “We really think we have brought the right horses to Dubai for the Carnival and Harlan Strong, in particular, looked in great form when clearing quarantine on Tuesday.”

The meeting concludes with a 1600m turf handicap in which Godolphin’s Key Victory, trained by Charlie Appleby and Ireland’s Settle for Bay both look to bounce back from disappointing efforts a fortnight ago in the 1800m Singspiel Stakes (G3).

Appleby said: “We expected more from Key Victory last time, but I think the drop in trip is going to suit him (this time).” 

David Marnane trains Settle for Bay and the former Watson assistant expressed confidence that the Royal Hunt Cup winner will improve from his first run since May on opening night. 

“The wide draw did not help last time,” he said. “Hopefully, he can produce the kind of performance we think he is capable of.”

A first look at the local players for the stamina-laden division—a few with designs on the $1.5 million Dubai Gold Cup on Dubai World Cup day—will take place in the evening’s second race, a 2810m handicap around two sweeping turns of the 2400m turf course. 

The event is topped by Red Galileo, for Bin Suroor and Godolphin, who was a game sixth behind Vazirabad in last year’s Dubai Gold Cup and has not been seen since. Fourth in this race last year, he could be vulnerable to his own banner-mate, Ispolini, an Appleby trainee who has the benefit of a run two weeks ago when second in an opening night 2410m heat to Bin Battuta. Another wheeling back from the same Jan. 3 race is fourth-placed Appearance for trainer David Simcock, who figures to move forward with seasoning, as many of his conditioner’s charges do. The most intriguing and completely capable entrant is the versatile Speedo Boy, who exits a third over hurdles in early December and was good enough to win an Ascot handicap on the flat over the same 3200m as the Dubai Gold Cup in July. Ian Williams trains the French-bred 5-year-old gelding, who will look to stretch his acumen even more in his Dubai debut.

                   
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