Prize money of $2.7 million will be distributed among seven fixtures that are course and distance preps for the world's richest day of racing, the $35 million Dubai World Cup meeting on Saturday, March 28.
Race 1 (4:00 p.m.)—Listed $300,000 Al Bastakiya (1900m, 3YOs)
Sponsored by emirates.com
The final prep for the $2.5 million UAE Derby sponsored by Emirates NBD is the Al Bastakiya (Listed), which is over the same 1900m and carries a $300,000 purse. A full field of 16 was declared with three reserves. Satish Seemar-trained Good Fighter drew the outside and was scratched making way for another Zabeel pupil—one of four in the race—Sanad Libya. Chief among the quartet are Nasir Askar's UAE 2000 Guineas Trial winner Commanding, who drew the rail and services of yard jockey Richard Mullen, and UAE 2000 Guineas (G3) third-place finisher Emblem Storm, who should appreciate the stretch out in distance.
While Guineas winner Fore Left will wait for the UAE Derby, runner-up Zabardast will garner plenty of support here for HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum and trainer Salem bin Ghadayer. Mickael Barzalona, who is quite high on the son of Carpe Diem, will seize the reins from post 11.
Godolphin's trio of Meydan Trophy winner Ya Hayati, a blueblood son of Dubawi and dirt G1 winner Wedding Toast, UAE 1000 Guineas (Listed) winner Dubai Love and Al Bastakiya Trial winner Laser Show will be very difficult to best in this, as well. Charlie Appleby-trained Ya Hayati tries dirt for the first time, but is bred to adore the surface. He breaks from post 14 under William Buick, while Dubai Love (Pat Cosgrave, post seven) and Laser Show (Christophe Soumillon, post three) had a little more luck with the barrier draw. NOTES: Appleby discusses the highly promising Ya Hayati.
Race 2 (4:35 p.m.)—Group 3 $350,000 Mahab Al Shimaal (1200m)
Sponsored by Emirates Skywards
Speed is the name of the game in the course and distance prep for the world's richest dirt sprint, the 1200m $2.5 million Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1), and the Mahab Al Shimaal drew a full field of 14 with petrol aplenty.
Multiple Group 3 winner Switzerland (Pat Dobbs, post five), Swedish sprint star I Kirk (Carlos Lopez, post six) and likely market favourite Bochart (Richard Mullen, post seven) will likely show pace in spades early while drawn in adjacent stalls. The last named has been a revelation at age seven this DWC Carnival, reeling off consecutive wins and coming in with a race-leading 112 rating. VIDEO: Trainer Susanne Berneklint discusses I Kirk's progress this season. VIDEO: Doug Watson chats about the Switzerland.
Second in the ratings is HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum's Ibn Malik (109), who has been consistent all season, including a runner-up effort last time in the Al Shindagha Sprint (G3) against many of these. The winner that day, Gladiator King, went on to finish third in the Saudia Sprint last weekend in Riyadh. Still, Jim Crowley must find fortune lucky post 13.
American invader and Doug O'Neill trainee Fight On, a stakes winner over 1700m, cuts back in trip and draws well in post two. A solid gate horse, he could beat all to the punch if things work out for William Buick, while Lake Volta (Mickael Barzalona, post four) and blue-blooded last-out Jebel Ali romper Wafy (Tadhg O'Shea, post 10), appear two to watch from capable yards in this spot. VIDEO: Assistant trainer Leandro Mora talks Fight On's chances.
Race 3 (5:10 p.m.)—Group 3 $350,000 Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint (1200mT)
Sponsored by Arabian Adventures
A full field of 16 goes to post in the course and distance prep for the $2 million Al Quoz Sprint sponsored by Azizi Developments (G1), the Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint, which was won the last two years by the subsequent winners of the big event three weeks later, Jungle Cat and Blue Point. This year, the top-rated coming into the race are 114-rated Space Blues, from the same Godolphin-Charlie Appleby connections as Jungle Cat and Blue Point, and 2019 runner-up in this event, 112-rated Ekhtiyaar. NOTES: Appleby discusses Space Blues.
Space Blues (William Buick, post six) cuts back in trip and carries ample Group 1 form, but comes in off a layoff from the summer. Meanwhile Doug Watson-trained Shadwell colour-bearer Ekhtiyaar (Jim Crowley, post 11) must overcome a poor effort last out. A return to his form earlier this season makes him a force in this spot. VIDEO: Watson chats about Ekhtiyaar returning to his best running.
Rusumaat, for the same HH Sheikh Hamdan owner as Ekhtiyaar—one of four carrying those colours—defeated him last out and enters in top form for Musabbeh Al Mheiri and jockey Dane O'Neill, who rides from post 10. Others to watch include multiple 2019 DWC Carnival winner Mazzini (Tadhg O'Shea, post 12), who makes his second start off a long layoff, and the Doug O'Neill-trained duo of Torosay (Mickael Barzalona, post two) and Wildman Jack (Fernando Jara, post three), who have both been working exceptionally for this. VIDEO: Leandro Mora discusses Wildman Jack and Torosay.
Race 4 (5:45 p.m.)—Group 3 $350,000 Burj Nahaar (1600m)
Sponsored by Emirates Holidays
A dozen will break with $1.5 million Godolphin Mile sponsored by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum City—District One (G2) hopes in the 1600m Burj Nahaar, a race that was won in spectacular fashion by Muntazah last year in an otherworldly record time of 1:34.99. While the big Doug Watson-trained charge is out for the season, his stablemate and 2018 winner of this race, Kimbear (Pat Dobbs), will carry the Red Stables flag form post four. He faces familiar foes in Dubai Creek Mile (Listed) winner Secret Ambition (Tadhg O'Shea, post two) and 2018 Godolphin Mile winner Heavy Metal (Mickael Barzalona, post five). VIDEO: Doug Watson on Kimbear returning to his best form.
Blitzkrieg, a son of War Front and G3 winner on turf, tries the dirt here and draws well in post three for Doug O'Neill. It is eye-catching that Christophe Soumillon will ride for the first time. Another who piques interest is G3 winner Axelrod, a G1-placed Phoenix Thoroughbreds colour-bearer who has not start since finishing off the board in the Dubai World Cup. Xavier Xiani rides from post 10. Ambassadorial wheels back on nine days' rest to represent the UK yard of Jane Chapple-Hyam. John Egan rides from the rail. VIDEO: Leandro Mora chats trying Blitzkrieg on the dirt.
Race 5 (6:20 p.m.)—Group 1 $400,000 Jebel Hatta (1800mT)
Sponsored by Emirates Airline
The first Group 1 of the DWC Carnival for Thoroughbreds is a course and distance prep for the $6 million Dubai Turf sponsored by DP World (G1), the Jebel Hatta. A baker's dozen goes to post with a heavy favourite in Charlie Appleby-conditioned G1 winner Barney Roy, who was a super-impressive victor of the Al Rashidiya (G2) on Jan. 30 over this trip. He leads the ratings at 115, but must overcome post 12 under William Buick. NOTES: Appleby chats about Barney Roy's progress this season.
Second to him that day was Dream Castle, who won this event smartly last year under Christophe Soumillon for trainer Saeed bin Suroor. He has drawn post 10 and must navigate a good trip in order to best his aforementioned conqueror. The son of Frankel exits a good third in the Zabeel Mile (G2) and wheels back on shorter rest than usual.
Others to watch in here are Magic Lily, who the same team as Barney Roy, who seeks her third consecutive Group victory of the DWC Carnival, but takes on the big boys—literally—this time, as well as Group 3-winning mare Surrounding from the ever-capable Mick Halford yard. Magic Lily and Mickael Barzalona—who has been lethal when teaming up with Appleby this season—breaks from post eight, while Irish-based Surrounding is directly to her inside in seven with Tadhg O'Shea.
Race 6 (6:55 p.m.)—Group 1 $600,000 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 (2000m)
Sponsored by Emirates Airline
The centrepiece of the evening is the Group 1 $600,000 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3, which has drawn a field of eight looking to earn spots in the gate of the Group 1 $12 million Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates Airline. While not the highest-rated, Nasir Askar's Military Law is certainly going to be the market favourite after his game runner-up effort to Benbatl in Round 2 last month. A good-looking son of Dubawi, the Musabbeh Al Mheiri trainee once again gets the services of Antonio Fresu and drew well in the two-hole.
Leading the ratings is multiple USA G2 winner Quip, who makes his second start locally for trainer Doug Watson and will stretch out from a lacklustre run in the Firebreak (G3) on Feb. 13. Owned by Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, he will be ridden by Pat Dobbs from post six and his best likely makes him the horse to beat here—but that is far from a guarantee. VIDEO: Watson discusses his hope that Quip is ready for a top effort.
Satish Seemar starts a pair of Argentine G1 winners in Saltarin Dubai (Richard Mullen, rail), and Roman Rosso (Tadhg O'Shea, post seven) who must both be respected. Both will likely be pace factors in a race that will likely be won or lost on the first two sectionals.
Last-out Jebel Ali Stakes (Listed) winner Mark of Approval (Pat Cosgrave, post five) takes a dip into the deep end, Matterhorn (Mickael Barzalona, post three) tries to improve upon his second in the Firebreak, blaze-faced Desert Fire (Christophe Soumillon, post four) attempts to heat up on the dirt for Godolphin and 2019 runner-up New Trails (Connor Beasley, post eight) will look to reverse his downhill form.
Race 7 (7:30 p.m.)—Group 2 $350,000 Dubai City of Gold (2410mT)
Sponsored by Emirates SkyCargo
The nightcap is the 11-strong Group 2 $350,000 Dubai City of Gold, which has been won the last two years by subsequent $6 million Longines Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) victors Old Persian and Hawkbill. Charlie Appleby trained those two, but this year may appear less than confident when he saddles longshots First Nation (William Buick, post seven), Jalmoud (James Doyle, post 10) and Loxley (Mickael Barzalona, post 11).
Meanwhile, much of the attention will be in Group 1 winners Defoe (Andrea Atzeni) and Desert Encounter (Jamie Spencer), who break from post two and one, respectively. Defoe carries a 118 rating, the highest of the day, and will look to pull off the same City of Gold-Sheema double Postponed did in the same gold and black colours of Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum in 2016.
Others looking to challenge that quest are Norwegian Derby winner Privilegiado (Dane O'Neill, post three), who likely improves here with the increase in distance after a third in the 2000m Dubai Millennium (G3) last out, and William Haggas-trained Pablo Escobarr (Tom Marquand, post six), who has always been highly regarded by his connections. VIDEO: Petersen chats about Privilegiado's progress.