12 January 2023

Plenty of quality on show as Meydan Racecourse hosts Friday’s second fixture of 2023 carnival

Meydan Racecourse hosts the second fixture of the 2023 Dubai World Cup Carnival, a seven-race, all Thoroughbred card undoubtedly highlighted by the Group 2 Al Rashidiya, over 1800m on turf and in which Godolphin are seeking a seventh straight success.

Saeed bin Suroor has saddled four of the six most recent winners and eight in total, a record he shares with South African Mike de Kock, in a race inaugurated at the turn of the century in 2000.

He is doubly represented this year by Dubai Future, winner of the Group 3 Bahrain International Trophy in November, under Danny Tudhope who maintains the partnership, and joined among the 11 runners by stable companion Passion And Glory who chased him home in that 2000m feature.

Both are running for the first time since with the former seeking a fourth carnival success having scored once at each of the last three carnivals, twice over 2400m, once at 2800m.

Bin Suroor said: “Dubai Future ran some very good races last year, including winning the Bahrain International Trophy on his latest start. He came out of that race well and I have been pleased with his work going into this. Dropping down to nine furlongs should be fine and I am looking forward to another good result.”

Meanwhile, as was the case in Bahrain, Pat Cosgrave partners Passion And Glory, competing at his third consecutive carnival, seeking a first Meydan victory at the sixth attempt.

Bin Suroor said: “Passion And Glory was runner-up in Bahrain and is a horse who always tries hard in his races. He looks to be in good condition and has been working well, so I am hopeful of a good run.”

Fellow Godolphin handler Charlie Appleby has landed the Al Rashidiya spoils twice, combining with William Buick on both occasions and they team up with Ottoman Fleet on this occasion. Only a 4yo, the gelded son of Sea The Stars has won twice from just six starts, unusually a pair of 2000m Listed races, one as a juvenile and then on his final start of 2022 at the very end of October.

Appleby said: “Ottoman Fleet comes into this on the back of a nice Listed win at Newmarket and ran well over this distance when rummer-up in the Group 3 Darley Stakes earlier in the autumn. His preparation has gone well and he should be very competitive.

Buick’s mount is making his Meydan debut but Appleby also saddles Valiant Prince, the mount of James Doyle whose carnival treble last week included a double for Appleby, who is already a carnival winner. The 5yo Dubawi gelding is actually defending an unbeaten Meydan record having landed a pair of 1600m turf handicaps last year, the second at the carnival.

He too arrives on the back of a Listed victory in the UK, he and Doyle scoring over 1600m at York, defeating stablemate Art Du Val.

Appleby said: “Valiant Prince has some solid form over a mile and we feel that the step up to nine furlongs will hopefully see further improvement at this stage of his career. If he sees the trip out well, it will open up a few more options.”

Seemingly heading the opposition to the Godolphin quartet is San Donato, prepared by Doug Watson for Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum and who made a victorious start to his UAE career, somewhat belatedly, in the 1600m Listed National Day Cup in Abu Dhabi.

That was his first start for 599 days, as well as since he was gelded in April 2021, and he was chased home by last year’s Group 1 Jebel Hatta winner Alfareeq who was runner-up in last week’s 1400m Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort.

Third in the 2019 French 2000 Guineas, the 7yo Lope De Vega gelding was always held in high regard by his previous trainer, Roger Varian Watson may yet be able to unlock his undoubted potential.

As was the case in Abu Dhabi, Pat Dobbs rides and Watson said: “I think he had been injured so only arrived really late last season and was a real tricky horse to train. Oscar Chavez has been riding him at home this year and has really sweetened him up.

“That was an exciting performance at Abu Dhabi, the way he quickened. Obviously it is a tough race taking on Godolphin but we are hopeful he can at least be competitive in a strong heat.”

The best of the dirt races is the Thunder Snow Challenge, a conditions contest over the same 2000m as the Dubai World Cup and named after the only dual winner of the UAE’s most valuable prize.

The field includes Group Two winner Military Law and Group One victor Salute The Soldier, not the only top flight winner on the card with Appleby saddling Wild Beauty in the Ipi Tombe Stakes, a 1400m turf conditions affair for fillies and mares.