Dubai Former champion trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe appears to have the best chance of sending out a UAE-trained winner on Dubai World Cup night, with Ertijaal strongly favoured to win the revamped-up version of the $1million Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint.
An unlucky second in this race last year behind the Australian speedball Buffering when it was run over 1,000 metres, Ertijaal, whose last five starts have been over the minimum trip, must cope with the extra furlong and a strong international field.
That was his only Meydan defeat from six recent visits, and dates back to February 2015 when he set the 1200m turf track record.
However, Jim Crowley, retained rider to Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, is not losing any sleep over the step up in trip.
“He has won over 1400m, both in England and Abu Dhabi,” said Crowley. “He was still galloping strongly at the line on his latest 1000m victory and I do not see the extra 200m being any problem, but it is a stronger race.”
His rivals are headed by the Henry Candy-trained Limato, an impressive winner of the July Cup and Prix de la Foret last season and Godolphin’s progressive Jungle Cat, a comfortable winner of the Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint on his most recent start.
Limato is a first UAE runner for Candy and his rider Harry Bentley said: “His owner, Paul Jacobs, and I watched him on the track on Wednesday and when he worked earlier in the week and he looks in great shape.
“The trainer and his staff are very happy with him and he will do his final sharp piece of work on Thursday. He looks to have an awful lot in his favour and we are all really looking forward to Saturday.”
Like Candy, Hong Kong’s John Size saddles his first Meydan runner in Amazing Kids, the mount of in-form jockey Joao Moreira.
“I only arrived on Tuesday but the team with him have been very happy,” said Size. “We think the straight track will suit him and he has some very good form at home.”
Meanwhile, reigning champion Muarrab (GB) is not the only previous winner among the field for the 1200m Group 1 US$2m Dubai Golden Shaheen.
Reigning champion Muarrab (GB) one among four previous winners on the card who have returned to defend their title.
Like Postponed, Vazirabad and the Purebred AF Mathmoon, Muarrab will stake a strong claim in to win the Group 1 $2m Dubai Golden Shaheen.
Trained by Ali Rashid Al Raihe for Shaikh Hamdan, Muarrab, the mount of Jim Crowley, will be having his first start since leaving the Oasis 1 Stables of Maria Ritchie and suspended handler Musabah Al Muhairi.
However, he may have a lot to find on form having not won in four starts this season, albeit he was a close second on each of the first three before disappointing in the Group 3 Mahab Al Shimaal, a race he had won last year en route to his Golden Shaheen victory.
“I imagine we will be positive on him after different tactics did not seem to suit on Super Saturday,” said Crowley. “Apart from that start, he had been running well all season and should at least be competitive.”
The sentimental favourite in the race is the 11-year-old Reynaldothewizard who is trained by the Zabeel Stables master tactician Satish Seemar. Reynaldothewizard defeated Muarrab in the Listed Dubawi Stakes, over this 1200m course and distance, when last seen in January.
“He may be eleven now but has not had much racing and acts like a lot younger horse,” said Mullen. “He goes well fresh and conditions suit him so we have to hope for another big run.”
Victorious on Super Saturday in this year’s Mahab Al Shimaal was Morawij, an exciting winner of the Jebel Ali Sprint and a late entry into the race for trainer Dhruba Selvaratnam.
Morawij was third in this 12 months ago but his rider, Chris Hayes, insists he will be competitive.
“He did very well to get third last year when drawn widest of all so a low draw is a massive boost,” said Hayes. “As he showed at Jebel Ali and on Super Saturday, when he gets to the front he gives his all and is hard to pass. He must have a decent chance in an open race.”
Morawij was chased home on Super Saturday by Cool Cowboy, who represents newly-crowned champion handler Doug Watson.
“The draw is OK and he seems in great form at home,” said Watson. “We expect a big run from him but it is obviously a strong race.”
The international favourite is Mind Your Biscuits, a first UAE runner for trainer Chad Summers, who has all the work to do after drawing the widest gate of all, in 14.
“The draw could have been better but he is a closer, not a horse who races on the pace,” said Summers. “Therefore it may not be the end of the world and I could not be happier with his condition and preparation.”