Meydan's eighth meeting on Thursday a global affair

Thursday’s eighth meeting of the 2019 Dubai World Cup Carnival is another truly global affair, filled with quality horseflesh representing France, Sweden, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, USA, UK and UAE. Three Group affairs highlight the $1,105,000 card—the Zabeel Mile (G2), UAE Oaks (G3) and Dubai Millennium (G3)—supported by a triad of handicaps that could easily serve as preps for Dubai World Cup night fixtures with breakout performances. The evening’s six races are sponsored by Al Tayer Motors and the first race’s post time is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. 

ZABEEL MILE (Group 2 | $250,000 | 1600mT)

Nine horses have been declared for a fascinating renewal of the Zabeel Mile sponsored by Al Tayer Motors (G2), including the winners of the latest two runnings. The 1600m turf feature is an international affair, with and England, Australia and South Africa all being represented as well as a team of four Godolphin representatives.

When winning this race in 2017 for trainer Ahmad bin Harmash, Championship was progressing rapidly, but was ruled out of both Super Saturday and the Dubai World Cup meeting with an injury. Owned by Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, the 8-year-old has not won since, but showed a bit of fight in him last out when sixth in the Al Fahidi Fort (G2) on Jan. 24. In this race last year, his best race since his return from injury, he was a solid runner-up to Janoobi.

“He ran well for a long way in his one start a month ago,” said Connor Beasley, who will once again ride the gelding. “Hopefully that should have put him spot on for this, but it does look a strong race.”

He led for the majority of the race last year before being snared by Janoobi, who provided South African Mike de Kock with a record fourth victory in the race, which was inaugurated in 2007 and has served as a key prep for the $6 million Dubai Turf sponsored by DP World (G1). Wearing the colours of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the 5-year-old son of Silvano has not won since, but should be in fine fettle, thanks to multiple runs already this Carnival, including a failed dirt try in last week’s Firebreak Stakes (G3).

Stable companion Marinaresco joins the line-up, with the 6- year-old Silvano gelding having just his second start for De Kock. Already a multiple Group 1 winner for previous connections, he should come forward in this run after having finished a disappointing ninth in the Al Fahidi Fort on his Meydan debut.

De Kock said: “We tried Janoobi on the dirt and he did not seem to like it,” De Kock said. “We know these conditions suit him, so hopefully from his low draw he can bounce back. Marinaresco needed that first run, as we knew he would, and we have targeted this race for him.”

Trainer Chris Waller of Winx fame saddles Australian Group 1 winner Comin’ Through, his only previous UAE runner when seventh in the aforementioned Al Fahidi Fort. Pat Cosgrave will again be in the irons. Simon Crisford saddles classy multiple G1-placed Century Dream, the mount of Oisin Murphy who is having his first start since finishing third to European Horse of the Year Roaring Lion in the 1600m Queen Elizabeth Stakes (G1) on British Champions Day in October.

The remaining four runners carry the Godolphin blue, with Christophe Soumillon aboard Top Score for Saeed bin Suroor and dual Zabeel Mile winner William Buick riding Mythical Magic, perhaps suggesting he is the main hope from three Charlie Appleby runners. Group 3 winner and St James’s Palace (G1)-placed Wootton makes his first start for Appleby with James Doyle aboard, while Listed winner First Contact looks to improve upon a poor showing in the Al Rashidiya (G2) on Jan. 24. 

UAE OAKS (Group 3 | $250,000 |3YO Fillies | 1900mT)

Twelve have been declared for the $250,000 UAE Oaks sponsored by Range Rover (G3), the top race for 3-year-old fillies in Dubai and a springboard to taking on the boys in the $2.5 million UAE Derby (G2). Almost all the runners have made the jump from the 1600m UAE 1000 Guineas (Listed) last out, including stylish winner Silva.

A 3-year-old daughter of Kodiac trained in France by Pia Brandt, the bay filly was nothing short of dominant three weeks ago under Oisin Murphy, who returns to ride once again. She was chased home on that occasion by Godolphin’s very highly regarded Divine Image, who will again be ridden by William Buick for Charlie Appleby and is expected by many to vie for market favouritism. Missing the start by multiple lengths, Divine Image will seek to turn the tables.

Simon Crisford expects improvement from Chelmsford Novice Stakes winner Starry Eyes, a daughter of Animal Kingdom. She will be looking to move forward after a first-time dirt experience three weeks ago in which she ran through the line nicely and likely needed the run. Seeking to return to form is Ismail Mohammed’s filly Al Hayette, who won two Meydan contests by an average of three lengths before her tenth placing in the UAE 1000 Guineas as the co-favourite with Divine Image. Doug Watson has a pair of starters in the well-regarded Razeena, who posted a good second on her debut against Al Hayette, and the Twirling Candy filly, Habah.

The only runner who did not contest the UAE 1000 Guineas is Dream With You, a dirt debutante saddled by France’s Nicholas Caullery and ridden by Adrie de Vries. The daughter of George Vancouver remains a maiden after seven career starts. 

UAE 1000 Guineas winner SILVA represents France in Thursday's UAE Oaks (G3), picture DRC|Erika Rasmussen

DUBAI MILLENNIUM STAKES (Group 3 | $200,000 | 2000mT)

Six of the eight-strong field in the $200,000 Dubai Millennium Stakes sponsored by Jaguar (G3) are representing Godolphin, with Christophe Soumillon opting to partner Racing History from two Saeed bin Suroor-trained contenders. Charlie Appleby saddles four, with stable jockey William Buick aboard First Nation.

First Nation ran out a strong 4½ lengths winner of the Azizi Star handicap five weeks ago, whereas Racing History has not been out of the money in his last two starts, most notably finishing third in the Al Rashidiya (G2) and second in the Singspiel (G2)—both over 1800m—behind local division leader Dream Castle. A step up in trip by 200m could suit the multiple G1-placed charge, who owns a G3 win over this distance. Bin Suroor also saddles Team Talk (Pat Cosgrave), who was second in handicap company over this course and distance last out, while Appleby will come loaded with promising new acquisitions Spotify (James Doyle) and Vintager (Colm O’Donoghue), as well as Team Talk’s last-out conqueror Oasis Charm (Brett Doyle).

For His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Jim Crowley rides the Musabbeh Al Mheiri-trained Muzdawaj. The 6-year-old homebred Dansili gelding arrives on the back of a smooth Meydan success over 1800m three weeks ago, but will be facing tougher rivals in this contest.

Ahmad bin Harmash and Connor Beasley combine with Connect, a 4-year-old who will be having just his second UAE outing having finished sixth in a Meydan turf handicap over 1800m a fortnight ago. Owned by Sultan Ali, the Roderic O’Connor colt won three times for previous connections, most recently a 2000m handicap at Epsom on Derby weekend last June. 

Remainder of Card

The night kicks off with a strong 1400m handicap affair, the $135,000 Jaguar F Pace, which includes multiple runners who could punch their ticket to the $1.5 million Godolphin Mile (G2) with a top performance. Godolphin’s Charlie Appleby-trained Gold Town and Nabil Mourad’s Simon Crisford-trained African Ride lead the way, while American invader Honorable Treasure and local winners Nine Below Zero and Rodaini must be respected among the 11 runners.

One race later, turf sprinters hoping to run well enough to garner consideration for the $2 million Al Quoz Sprint (G1) will clash in the $135,000 Land Rover Discovery Handicap over 1200m. Meydan winners Love Dreams, Riflescope and Another Batt cannot be ignored for their obviously affinity for the local lawn, while Intisaab and Ekhtiyaar have every right to improve in this spot.

After the trio of Group events, the nightcap handicap is the $135,000 Range Rover Velar over 1600m on turf, offering a softer spot for those not up to par quite yet for the Zabeel Mile. The ageless multiple Group 3 winner Forjatt adds intrigue here and appears to be in solid form, but those expected to move forward in this spot and challenge are G3 winner Kronprinz, 2018 Carnival winner Hors de Combat and the Appleby-trained trio of Symbolization, Aurum and Completion.