It’s Super Saturday at Meydan Racecourse

Established as a dress rehearsal or a trials day for the Dubai World Cup card three weeks later, Super Saturday is the second biggest fixture of the UAE season, officially highlighted by the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3, over the same 2000m on dirt as the $12 million Dubai World Cup.

Last year’s winner, Hypothetical, has been withdrawn but the 2021 victor, the Fawzi Nass-trained Salute The Soldier, will seek an unprecedented second success in a contest inaugurated in 1994. He was fifth last year.

Owned by Victorious, Nass’ 8yo Sepoy gelding made a successful seasonal return over this course and distance and was not disgraced in fifth in the 1900m second round of the challenge behind the impressive Algiers (who is being kept fresh for the World Cup).

Regular jockey Adrie de Vries is again in the saddle and said: “He has been in good form all season but nothing went right for him last time. Stall ten is not ideal but hopefully we can get a good early position and he can run a big race.”

Bhupat Seemar, who saddles four, appears to have the three main dangers to De Vries’ mount, Tadhg O’Shea, who had five winners in Abu Dhabi on Thursday, opting to partner Law Of Peace, with James Doyle aboard Bendoog and Dane O’Neill partnering Kafoo. Richard Mullen is to ride the trainer’s fourth runner, Sanad Libya.

The turf feature and prep race for the Dubai Turf, over the same 1800m, the Jebel Hatta has attracted a field of 15, including last year’s winner Alfareeq, again to be partnered by Dane O’Neill in the colours of Shadwell for Musabbeh Al Mheiri.

He faces stiff competition from Godolphin runners though, arguably headed by Saeed bin Suroor’s stable star, Real World, who has been gelded since last seen in public. That was at Royal Ascot in June when he chased home the brilliant Baaeed, the only horse to have beaten him (twice) in seven turf outings.

Bin Suroor’s 6yo homebred son of Dark Angel beat Alfareeq in the Group 2 Zabeel Mile at the end of January last year, under Danny Tudhope (also aboard when twice finding Baaeed too good) and is again in the saddle.
Saeed bin Suroor said: “This will be Real World’s first start since June and I expect him to be 80-85% ready for the race. He has had issues in the past but has been working nicely recently.
“We are treating this very much as a prep for the Dubai Turf and he will certainly come on for the run.”
For the same owners Charlie Appleby appears to field two big dangers to all, Master Of The Seas and Valiant Prince.
The former, the mount of William Buick, won his only racecourse appearance of 2022 and landed the Group 2 Zabeel Mile on his sole start to date this year. Those are his two career outings since being gelded.
Meanwhile, Valiant Prince, will be partnered by James Doyle as he has been in each of his last three starts, all victorious, two over this 1800m course and distance in the Group 2 Al Rashidiya and Singspiel Stakes.
The 5yo Dubawi gelding is actually unbeaten after four appearances on this turf track, having twice won handicaps over 1600m last year.
Charlie Appleby said: “It was always the plan to head here with Master Of The Seas following the Zabeel Mile and he has a decent draw in stall two. He goes into this in good order and, while Real World is the class act, we are confident that our horse can be a big player with that run under his belt.
“Valiant Prince is drawn wide in 14, which will make it quite a challenge for him. He has done nothing wrong in his two starts this year and can prove a big player if he can get a clear run round.”