19 January 2023

Zabeel Mile the undoubted highlight on third 2023 carnival card

Meydan Racecourse stages the third meeting of the 2023 Dubai World Cup Carnival on Friday evening, highlighted by the Group 2 Zabeel Mile which has attracted a quality field of eight, including no less than five Godolphin contenders, the owners seeking a fifth consecutive and seventh success since 2015 in the 1600m turf feature.

Saeed bin Suroor supplied the winner last year, Real World, ridden by Danny Tudhope and the trainer has three chances this year with no obvious ‘first string’ although the fact Pat Cosgrave partners Land Of Legends perhaps suggests the 7yo Iffraaj gelding is considered the main hope for the master of Al Quoz Stables.

Cosgrave’s mount won the 1400m Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort on his 2021 reappearance and was beaten less than two lengths, but only finishing ninth, on his return in the same race last year. He was then well beaten, over 1800m, on Super Saturday in the Group 1 Jebel Hatta. He has been campaigned exclusively at Meydan since August 2019.

Pat Dobbs has picked up the spare ride on Bin Suroor’s Desert Fire, also starting for the first time this year and who runs in this having not attempted to defend his crown in last week’s 1800m Group 2 Al Rashidiya. The 8yo gelded son of Cape Cross has won over this course and distance, albeit only in handicap company, almost exactly four years ago.

The third runner from Al Quoz is the versatile Laser Show, returning from a long absence having not been seen in public for 859 days. Louis Steward partners the 6yo New Approach gelding who is actually seeking a third consecutive victory having won his two most recent appearances, both handicaps over 1600m, on fast ground at Newmarket and on the Chelmsford all-weather. The latter, the last time he was seen on a racecourse, was in the middle of September 2020.

Bin Suroor said: “Desert Fire, Land Of Legends and Laser Show have been working well, but this looks a tough race for the three of them.

“Desert Fire has won over this course and distance in the past, so dropping back to a mile won’t be a problem, while Land Of Legends enjoys racing around Meydan.

“Laser Show has had soundness issues, which has kept him off the track for a long time, but I was pleased with his latest piece of work and he is ready to go again.”

Fellow Godolphin handler Charlie Appleby has landed this prize five times since 2015 and saddles two, William Buick opting to ride the classy Master Of The Seas with James Doyle aboard stable companion Modern News.

Buick’s mount, a 5yo son of Dubawi, was narrowly denied a 2000 Guineas victory at Newmarket in 2021 and won his only start of 2022 in the 1800m Group 3 Earl Of Sefton Stakes, on the same track, after a break of 178 days so his subsequent absence, 283 days, may well not be an issue.

Modern News has been off for 162 days, when he and Buick were runner-up in the Group 3 Sovereign Stakes at Salisbury. The pair did win a 1600m Listed race at Windsor in early May last year.

Appleby said: “Master Of The Seas hasn’t been seen since the Earl of Sefton but has settled in well out in Dubai. His preparation has gone well, although we are very much working back from Dubai World Cup night and Super Saturday, so there will be some natural improvement from whatever he does here. He looks to be in great order and we are very much looking forward to getting him back on track.

“Modern News is a consistent horse, who showed some decent form in Group and Listed races in the UK last year. He goes into this fit and well, and certainly won’t look out of place in the field.”

The aforementioned Tudhope, meanwhile, partners Shelir for his main supporter in Britain, David O’Meara and an excellent third on his local debut, over 1400m, in the Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort, two weeks ago. Five of his six career wins have been achieved over 1600m so the step up in trip looks in his favour.

The international (European) challenge is completed by I Am Superman, just a third UAE runner (second this year) for Ireland’s Michael O’Callaghan. The 7yo gelding is back with O’Callaghan after a spell in Australia which culminated with a narrow defeat, by just a head, in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes, a 1400m handicap at Caulfield. He won twice at Group Two level during his Australian stint.

“We’re delighted with I Am Superman since arriving in Dubai,” said O’Callaghan. “He’s in really good form ahead of Friday and Colin Keane is over to ride”

For Ahmad bin Harmash, Ray Dawson partners Erzindjan who completes the octet in what looks a quality renewal of the Group 2 Zabeel Mile.