Quality and competitive card to kick off 2022 Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan

The eagerly awaited 2022 Dubai World Cup Carnival gets underway at Meydan on Friday with a quality seven race card, highlighted by the 1600m dirt opening rounds of the Al Maktoum Challenge.

The fixture kicks off with the Purebred Arabian Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R1 for which eight have been declared, including the two most recent winner, RB Money To Burn and Brraq.

Ridden last year by Adrie de Vries for Jean-Claude Pecout and Yas Racing, after winning this, Brraq was then runner-up in the 1900m second round before winning the 2000m third leg.

Having failed to land a blow in the Kahayla Classic on the Dubai World Cup card, he made a winning return this season in a conditions race over 1800m on the Al Ain dirt track where he is trained. With De Vries unavailable, Pecout has booked Pat Dobbs.

Pecout said: “He is a very special horse for us and was actually our first UAE winner in this race last year. He won well on his return, is in good form and we know he likes Meydan so we are hoping for a big run.”

De Vries is riding for long term ally Fawzi Nass, the pair combining with RB Rich Lyke Me, an impressive winner of his local debut in the 1400m Group 2 Bani Yas.

When RB Money To Burn landed the race in 2020, she was trained by Eric Lemartinel and never headed under Fabrice Veron.

Sheikha Alyazia bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s 7yo mare will be saddled this year by Salem Al Ketbi with Richard Mullen taking the ride.

Helal Alalawi’s RB Frynchh Dude beat Brraq in the 1900m second round last year and was again in front of that rival when fourth in the Kahayla Classic. He too should be thereabouts.

The Thoroughbred equivalent, the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge R1 over the same 1600m on dirt, has attracted a field of 14 and appears wide open with a case to be made for most of them.

Doug Watson is well represented with three runners, stable jockey Pat Dobbs electing to partner Midnight Sands whose six Meydan victories are highlighted by success on Super Saturday last March in the Group 3 Burj Nahaar.

Dobbs’ mount was then a disappointing eighth in the Group 2 Godolphin Mile at the Dubai World Cup fixture when stable companion Golden Goal was runner-up. The mount of Sam Hitchcott, the latter remains the Meydan 1400m dirt track record holder having set the mark in a handicap on the opening night of the 2021 carnival (which started a week later).

The third Watson runner, Thegreatcollection, was second in this last year and ran well enough, without winning, through the rest of the campaign to earn a berth in the Dubai World Cup itself, finishing seventh under Pat Cosgrave who is again in the saddle.

Watson said: “They’re all going well at home and should be competitive in a good renewal.
“Midnight Sands was a bit disappointing on his return but probably needed the race more than we thought he would. He is training nicely.
“Golden Goal and Thegreatcollection both pleased us on their comeback runs and should be spot on for this. We are hoping all three run nice races.”

The aforementioned 2021 Group 2 Godolphin Mile was actually won by Secret Ambition ridden by Tadhg O’Shea for Naser Askar. Trained then by Satish Seemar, he will be saddled in this by Bhupat Seemar.

O’Shea said: “He has been off since winning the Godolphin Mile and will certainly improve for the outing but we are expecting him to run a big race.”

Seemar also saddles Avant Garde, third to Secret Ambition in the Godolphin Mile for previous connections, as well as the unbeaten 4yo Kafoo, winner of both his starts in the early part of the season as a 3yo. They will be ridden by Richard Mullen and William Buick respectively.

For Ahmad bin Harmash, Eastern World made a very pleasing dirt debut on his first start for the trainer when runner-up in the Listed Dubai Creek Mile.

Bin Harmash said: “He seemed to handle the surface very well which was good to open up options. He is a half-brother to Thunder Snow and by Dubawi so we always hoped he would be a good dirt horse.
“We think he will at least give a good account of himself in an open race.”

From two Salem bin Ghadayer runners, Mickael Barzalona partners Hypothetical who appears to hold leading claims, as does Salute The Soldier for the Nass and De Vries pairing.

The turf feature, restricted to fillies and mares, is the 1600m Group 2 Cape Verdi in which, as you would expect, Godolphin appear to hold a particularly strong hand in a race they have won in each of the last six years and eight of the last nine.

Saeed bin Suroor saddles both Soft Whisper, seemingly the choice of Frankie Dettori and Stunning Beauty, the mount of Hector Crouch.

Hoping to win the race for a sixth time, Bin Suroor said: “Soft Whisper did well last year, both here in Dubai and then back in the UK, winning Listed races on both dirt and turf.
“This looks the right race to start her 4yo campaign and she has been working nicely.
“Stunning Beauty showed better form in the UK last season and has been going well at home, so I’m hoping for a nice performance over a trip that suits.”
Appleby, seeking a fourth consecutive and fifth overall Cape Verdi, relies on Wedding Dance, the mount of William Buick.
Appleby said: “Wedding Dance improved from her first to second run last season, winning nicely at Wolverhampton on the latter occasion.
“The plan was always to bring her out to Dubai afterwards and we have been pleased with the way she has been training out here.
“She will potentially come forward for this but we feel that she is ready to have a run and should be competitive.”