25 March 2014

Marnane Leads Irish Assault on Dubai World Cup day

Jamesie and Elleval Run for Combined Prize Money of $3m

For Irish trainer David Marnane, Dubai is like a home from home.

“I was there for eight years as assistant to Kiaran McLaughlin, so I got to know the place pretty well,” Marnane says. “I also learnt a lot from watching the way trainers from all over the world train their horses. It was a good time.”

Marnane heeded those lessons well. He is in the vanguard of Irish trainers to have made an impact at the recent Dubai World Cup Carnival, having saddled Elleval (IRE) to finish runner-up in the UAE Derby 12 months ago.

Elleval returns on Dubai World Cup night, this time in the US$1 million Group 2 Godolphin Mile sponsored by Meydan Sobha over 1600m on the all-weather track on Saturday. Marnane will also be represented by Jamesie (IRE) in the US$2 million Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen sponsored by Gulf News over 1200m on the all-weather track.

Both horses helped Marnane to a memorable 2014 Dubai World Cup Carnival, at which his earnings have topped US$250,000. Elleval (IRE) won a handicap in February before finishing twelfth of 14 in R3 of the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge sponsored by Emirates over 2000m.

“That race didn’t suit him,” Marnane says of Elleval. “He got into a bad position early on and I’m hoping that a faster gallop and dropping back (in distance) on Saturday will suit him better.”

Jamesie also won at Meydan in January before posting a couple of eye-catching subsequent efforts – notably when fourth, closing late, in the Mahab Al Shimaal sponsored by Emirates Skywards over the Golden Shaheen course and distance on March 8.

“Jamesie is improving all the time,” Marnane says. “We need a bit of luck at the [Post Position] Draw but he very much likes the surface. We’re looking for a big run.”

Elleval and Jamesie are owned by Damian Lavelle, whose family have been flying in and out of Dubai throughout the winter to watch their horses run. Now comes the acid test: the Lavelle horses are competing in a pair of races worth a combined US$3 million.

That level of prize-money is not available to Marnane in Ireland, where he has been training for nine years. However, that early exposure to the Dubai racing scene alerted him to the possibilities. He has reaped rich reward.

Marnane has saddled winners on each of four successive visits to the Dubai World Cup Carnival but one winner on Dubai World Cup night would raise his career profile to new heights. “It’s a hugely exciting concept for a stable like ours,” he says.

“We brought four horses to Dubai in January and two of them have made it to Dubai World Cup night. We’ve done well, but we don’t want it to end there.”