Dubai: The Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint, the fastest race on the Dubai World Cup card, looks to be at the mercy of Hong Kong’s gifted speed merchants led by last year’s sensational winner Amber Sky.
Ridden by Brazilain Joao Moreira, who has made a big name for himself in the sports-loving city on the southern coast of China, Amber Sky ran a record-setting 56.21 seconds on the all-weather surface at Meydan in 2014 to beat Godolphin’s Ahtoug and South African speedball Shea Shea.
Ryan Moore replaces Moreira, who has chosen to ride fellow Hong Kong powerhouse Bundle Of Joy for trainer David Hall.
Amber Sky’s trainer Ricky Yiu said he was hopeful of another big effort from his stable star.
“Everything has gone well and we are happy with him. We know he likes it here and expect a big run,” he said.
Commenting on the chances of Bundle Of Joy, Hall remarked: “We kept him in the quarantine area for a few days when he arrived, which was always the plan. He went nicely on the track on Thursday and we are happy with him.”
This year’s renewal of the Al Quoz Sprint, which was first run in 2007, when it was won by Godolphin’s Great Britain, is the joint-largest in the race’s history with 16 runners.
Charlie Appleby trains another Godolphin hope in Ahtoug, who was narrowly denied victory by Amber Sky 12 months ago.
“I was pleased with his 13 draw as I am always happier to be near the stands side in sprints at Meydan. He has been at his most competitive up that side,” said the handler. “More importantly, I think we have got plenty of speed around us too.
“I have been pleased with his preparation. He is fresh and well and came out of his last run in very good order. He seems to be going into the Al Quoz Sprint in good form, which is excellent news.”
William Buick, who takes the ride, added: “Charlie and the team are very happy with Ahtoug. He has done nothing wrong this year out here in Dubai. He has improved with every start and he should be absolutely primed for Dubai World Cup night.”
Ahtoug was beaten in the Meydan Sprint on Super Saturday by the Kieren Fallon-ridden Sir Maximilian, who was a first UAE winner for British-based Ian Williams.
“He did his last serious gallop last Sunday,” Williams said of Sir Maximilian. “He worked well and it is exciting to have a runner on Dubai World Cup night.”
Another notable runner in the Meydan Sprint was Caspar Netscher, trained by David Simcock, who said: “That was a great run reverting to sprinting with him and he has done well since. His last gallop was a good one and we are very happy with him.”
Exciting British sprinter Sole Power, who was second in 2012, will be contesting the Al Quoz Sprint for the fifth consecutive year.
“We have been very pleased with his preparation,” said his trainer Eddie Lynam. “We all know he is more than capable of a big run but his style of running does often mean we need a bit of luck.”