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Championship hunts a second Group 2 victory at Meydan Racecourse in the featured US$250,000 Zabeel Mile on Thursday evening.
The Ahmed Bin Harmash-trained six-year-old appears on a Dubai World Cup Carnival card bristling with no less than four Group races and seeks to follow up on his Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort victory of four weeks ago.
He faces six rivals in Thursday’s 1600m contest having won the 1400m Al Fahidi Fort by an impressive three and a half lengths.
The mount of Colm O’Donoghue, he has already won the Listed National Day Cup at Abu Dhabi over 1600m, so the trip is not a problem but he does have a penalty for his Al Fahidi Fort success.
“He is in very good form and we are really looking forward to running him again,” said Bin Harmash. “Obviously he has a penalty but conditions will suit him and we expect a big run.”
On his penultimate start Championship was caught, in the dying strides, by the Mike de Kock-trained Light The Lights in the 1800m Listed Singspiel Stakes.
Subsequently second, over the same course and distance, in the Group 2 Al Rashidiya, Light The Lights is back in opposition under Bernard Fayd’Herbe but stable jockey, Christophe Soumillon, elects to ride Noah From Goa, a closing third behind Championship in the Al Fahidi Fort.
“Both mine are very well and should be competitive,” said De Kock who, with three previous winners, is the most successful trainer in the race’s history.
“Noah From Goa needed his first run and has certainly improved from it."
“It is probably a shorter than ideal trip for Light The Lights but he is in great form and this looks a good spot to run him again before, probably, stepping him up in trip on Super Saturday.”
Also doubly represented is Charlie Appleby who saddles both Cymric and Flash Fire for Godolphin. The latter, second to Championship and in front of Noah From Goa in the Al Fahidi Fort, is the choice of William Buick.
Having won the race in each of the last two years with Safety Check, who on each occasion had previously landed the Al Fahidi Fort, they are seeking a third consecutive victory in the race.
Appleby said: “Flash Fire produced a career best in the Al Fahidi Fort and has since produced another strong performance back in a handicap."
“Like Safety Check, who won this race for us the last twice, he is a very good 1400m horse who stays the ‘easy’ 1600m at Meydan."
“He is in great form and looks to have a decent chance. “We were very pleased with Cymric’s first run and he has come out of that race in good order. He has solid Group 1 form so, if returning to anything like that level, he is going to be a serious contender.”
Mickael Barzalona rides Cymric, winner of a course and distance handicap, under Buick, on his first start for the yard two weeks ago. Earlier on the card, Godolphin’s Very Special, the mount of Jim Crowley, would appear to hold very strong claims of landing the 1800m Group 2 Balanchine Stakes sponsored by Citizen K.
Winner of the same race last year, the Saeed bin Suroor-trained filly had already won the 1600m Group 2 Cape Verdi Stakes, just as she did again, three weeks ago. Crowley was in the saddle then when all six of her rivals on Thursday were in arrears but his mount does have a penalty this time.
“Very Special was impressive in the Cape Verdi and continues in great form,” said Bin Suroor. “We are expecting her to go very close and her last piece of work was very good.”