Dubai: Traditionally the Derby, however you pronounce it, is a race to find the Champion three-year-old colt of a season.
However in 2011 the Godolphin filly Khawlah, trained by Saeed Bin Surour and ridden by Mickael Barzalona, became the first and only filly to date to triumph in this contest. This record may well be matched on Saturday night as Doug Watson’s superfilly Polar River and Mike de Kock’s Vale Dori will be both representing the fillies and on all known form they look to be the ones to beat.
These two fillies met in the UAE Oaks and Polar River stalked Vale Dori until the straight and there she made her move and it was all over in a few strides as she skipped clear. Polar River then relaxed and idled in front allowing Vale Dori to stay on strongly and make back some ground. It was so easy for the winner that ERA Commentator remarked: “Pat (Dobbs) was sitting as quiet as a stoneman” and this is a fair reflection. Tonight’s trip is exactly the same and despite being a kilo worse off Polar River looks like this is hers to lose and she may well become the second filly to take this valuable prize. Lofty targets will then be discussed and made for her but as of now her trainer Doug Watson is just taking it a race at a time. She could be very good though.
Mike de Kock is the most successful trainer in this race having won it six times in the past and he knows exactly what you need to triumph and Vale Dori should but up a bold show for lucky win number seven.
If the fillies do not triumph there are of course five colts in the race. The most exciting looks to be the American raider from Doug O’Neill’s Frank Conversation who has had a good build up having already triumphed in one Derby being the El Camino Real Derby. He is ridden by Mario Gutierrez who was unheralded until 2012 when he made the big time riding the first two legs of the US Triple Crown on I’ll Have Another for this trainer and owner J. Paul Reddam. With Kentucky Derby qualification on offer they obviously are here to win to get in. He is sure to throw down a strong challenge.
Owned like Vale Dori by Shaikh Mohammad Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, Lazzam is here representing the progressive Newmarket yard of Marco Botti. He is the most experienced in the field and was runner up last time in the Listed Al Bastikiya on Super Saturday. Although he was beaten soundly that day he showed a lot of promise and should run another good race.
The other three colts are all trained in Japan and all battle hardened. On The Rocks has run in some quite lofty Group company without really making the breakthrough. Yu Change looks to be the pick of them on form having finished fourth in a Grade 1. The US bred Lani looks to have a good chance certainly based on winning form having won two of his five starts and having also been placed second once. It will be fascinating to see how the Japanese form stacks up against the form we have already seen. It may well prove to be stronger.
We think it is going to be a night for the girls and Polar River can cap a great Dubai World Cup Carnival with a win on the big night which could launch her to more success during the year. Vale Dori and Mike de Kock will be there to capitalise on any weakness she shows and then Frank Conversation is fancied to complete the frame.