02 February 2024

ERA Meydan Preview

Godolphin’s Charlie Appleby can look forward to another brilliant night of racing at Meydan Racecourse after becoming the toast of last week’s racing at the iconic Dubai venue when securing a fantastic four on the Fashion Friday programme.  

The Group 3 Dubai Millennium Stakes (8:25pm) is the feature event on Friday’s nine-race fixture, with the Listed Dubai Sprint the main event on the undercard.

Godolphin have always been a dominant force when it comes to Meydan’s turf track and the trend is likely to continue with finding runners for the Dubai Millennium Stakes clearly one of Appleby’s strong suits.

The Moulton Paddocks-based trainer provided Godolphin with seven of its nine victories in 10 editions of the race so far while winning the last six editions.  

With history like that you’d have to fancy the chances of both New London and Warren Point, joint top-rated in the field of eight that line up for the 2000m contest. 

William Buick gets the leg up on New London, winner of the 2022 Group 3 Gordon Stakes at Goodwood, who runs for the first time after being gelded. 

New London was a heavy favourite to land the Listed Dubai Godolphin Stakes at Newmarket in September, but only just failed on the line when bidding to catch Tregony.

Running previously in the Group 1 Westminster 133rd Grosser Preis von Berlin, he finished fifth after finding little in the final 400m. And, while New London marks his UAE debut here, Buick’s decision to leave last year’s Listed HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa Cup winner Warren Point for Mickael Barzalona calls for some attention.

Warren Point has had a far from ideal run since winning in Bahrain, with a half length second in a local Group One in Qatar, followed by a fifth-placed finish in the Man o’ War Stakes and a seventh in the Manhattan Stakes; both Grade One affairs at Belmont Park in the United States.

However, that sort of experience is bound to be handy when stepping down in class.

Running fresh, nearly three months after he turned up last of six in the Listed James Seymour Stakes at Newmarket, should help him put behind that rather dismal run, but Appleby’s hopes are really only likely to be pinned on to New London.

“We are hoping that dropping back to a mile and a quarter is going to suit New London,” said Appleby. 

“This race has always been the plan for him and, if you take the best of his three-year-old form, he looks a serious contender.

“Warren Point proved what he could do in Bahrain and Qatar last year. He ran well enough out in America and then the ground was against him at Newmarket. “He has wintered out in Dubai for a couple of years without actually running at Meydan, but I think the trip and track will suit.”

The ‘boys in blue’ and Osborne face serious competition when Trevaunance lines up for Irish trainer Jessica Harrington.

The five-year-old is a first Dubai runner for Moyglare Stud and has an impressive CV, having won four of her 14 starts, including the G2 Prix de la Nonette at Deauville in August.

“Trevaunance has travelled over to Dubai very well and Zara, her rider, has been delighted with her,” said Kate Harrington, trainer’s daughter and assistant. 

“Shane (Foley, jockey) sat on her on Wednesday morning and was very happy with how she was. We are looking forward to her running a big race on Friday.”

 

MAGIC KEEN TO MAKE MISCHIEF 

The main supporting race is the AED500,000 Listed Dubai Sprint, which has attracted a field of 14 over the 1200metre turf track. 

Among them is 2022 G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint winner Mischief Magic, who steps back up in trip after finishing fourth to Ponntos last time.

“Mischief Magic came out of the Ertijaal Dubai Dash well and coming back to six furlongs should play to his strengths,” said Appleby. 

“I feel he should be a big player.”

Walbank (David Egan) justified strong support in the international markets to win a handicap (Yonafis 2nd, Batwan 7th, Tanmawwy 13th) on his UAE debut just after New Year and could prove the chief danger.

Others to catch the eye include Al Shibli and Topper Bill, 2nd and 3rd respectively in the 1000m handicap won by Vespasian at Meydan on January 12th.

Topper Bill defied a massive absence to run exceptionally well that day and looks capable of better if returning in the same form.

 

APPLEBY DUO HOLD STRONG CLAIMS

The Jumeirah Guineas (9:35pm) features another Appleby duo that will be hard to stop in Legend Of Time (Buick) and Musical Act (Barzalona). The pair have won two of their three career starts, with Legend Of Time, a Sea The Stars colt, showing terrific turn of foot to kick for victory by a length in the Trial four weeks ago. Finishing second with a sustained effort along the rail was Francis-Henri Graffard’s Shamrock Glitter, who reopposes here under Jim Crowley, while Musical Act won his last two starts on the British all-weather at Kempton and is perhaps the biggest threat to his aforementioned teammate. Third in the Trial, Fawzi Nass’ Athan will once again be piloted by the Bahraini handler’s first choice rider Adrie de Vries, as the pair hope to make it third time lucky after progressing in terms of finishes over their first two starts.

 

DREAM BIDS TO EXTEND UNBEATEN RUN

The Jumeirah Fillies Classic, a Conditions affair over a 1400m strip (6:40pm), also looks headed in Appleby’s direction with Cinderella’s Dream and Beautiful Love forming a two-pronged attack for the former British Champion Flat Trainer.  

A daughter of Shamardal, Cinderella’s Dream (Buick) is two in two starts and should be very much in this with her teammate and stable companion Beautiful Love (Barzalona), a daughter of Siyouni, also boasting strong claims having won a novice event at Newmarket and followed that with a fourth in Listed company. William Knight dispatches Frost At Dawn (Crowley) on turf for the first time in a bid to get the daughter of Frosted to change her luck, with Amy Murphy’s Geologist (Richard Mullen) likely to come forward from her fifth-placed finish in the Jumeirah Guineas Trial.

Up against that quartet is Onigiri, who switches to the grass after running down the field on dirt last time.

“The jockey was negative about her handling the dirt last time,” said trainer Lucia Botti. 

“It was a gamble and we knew that, but now she’s fit and she’s very fresh.

“It’s a tough spot for her but she’s well and we want to see how good she is on the grass.”

The card gets underway with a 0-80 handicap for Purebred Arabians over 1600m (5:30pm) and supplementing the Thoroughbred side of things are a 1900m non-winner (6:05pm) for three-year-olds and three other handicaps.