Polar River (USA) will attempt to achieve something never been done before when she takes her place in the UAE Derby sponsored by The Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group.
Already winner of the UAE 1000 Guineas and UAE Oaks, Doug Watson’s remarkable filly has the opportunity to land a ‘UAE Fillies’ Triple Crown’.
Of the fillies, only Godolphin’s Khawlah has won the race, but she only contested the UAE Oaks on her local debut. Polar River has yet to taste defeat in four career outings and looks the stand-out runner.
“She had a few little issues before the UAE Oaks,” said Watson. “Her preparation for this week has been a lot smoother and she should be the one to beat.”
The same would apply to Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Handassa (FR), who impressed when winning the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 just over three weeks ago.
That was over the same 2000m dirt course and distance as Saturday’s Group 1 Dubai Kahayla Classic Empowered by IPIC and the Francois Rohaut-trained horse looks the most likely winner.
Qatar mounts a strong challenge, arguably headed by TM Thunder Struck (USA), the mount of Olivier Peslier and trained by Alban de Mieulle.
The Godolphin Mile sponsored by Meydan Sobha looks very competitive and last year’s runner-up, the Jeremy Noseda-trained Sloane Avenue (USA) again has to overcome a wide draw.
He should still run a massive race under Frankie Dettori but this does look a strong renewal.
Godolphin’s Marking (USA), rerouted to this race from sprinting options, should not be far away for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin and jockey James Doyle.
Doug Watson saddles three of the ten runners with Pat Dobbs siding with Cool Cowboy (UAE). Sam Hitchcott rides One Man Band (IRE) with Dane O’Neill aboard Faulkner (GB) to complete the trio.
“All three are fit and well,” said Watson. “They should all run a big race and to have three genuine contenders is a great position to be in.”
The Dubai Gold Cup sponsored by Al Tayer Motors is the longest race on the card and looks at the mercy of Vazirabad (FR).
The mount of Christophe Soumillon, he is trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre and arrives here having won his five most recent starts.
It is hard to look away from him in trying to find the winner with fellow French challenger, Manatee (GB), trained by Andre Fabre for Godolphin, perhaps the main danger.