Two Listed races, the Dubawi Stakes (1200m) and the Singspiel Stakes (1800m) highlight the second meeting of the 2016 Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday.
The official trials for the UAE 1000 and UAE 2000 Guineas feature on the card, sponsored by DP World, with Polar River, the sensational 13.5-length winner of a maiden last month, set to start.
Reynaldothewizard, the 2013 Dubai Golden Shaheen hero, makes his seasonal return in the Dubawi Stakes. Trained by Satish Seemar, the veteran galloper won the race both last year and in 2013 when it was known as the Meydan Golf Trophy, prior to its promotion to black type level.
Richard Mullen, retained rider at Seemar’s Zabeel Stables in Dubai, has partnered the now ten-year-old in 16 of his 17 local career starts and is hoping the combination can make their eighth visit to the Winner’s Circle.
“He seems very well and as fit as we can get him at home,” said Mullen. “He has been bucking and squealing so is obviously full of himself and we will find out a lot on Thursday regarding how much ability remains.
“Obviously he is ten now and taking on the younger generation but we know conditions really suit him.
“Muarrab looks the one to beat but we will hopefully run a big race.”
Muarrab, who finished second to Reynaldthewizard in last year’s renewal has not tasted defeat in four outings since.
The Musabah Al Muhairi-prepared seven-year-old capped last season with a win in the Listed Jebel Ali Sprint (1000m) and has posted a two-from-two record this term most recently with a five-and-a half length romp in the Listed Garhoud Sprint (1200m) at Meydan four weeks ago.
Paul Hanagan, retained rider for the gelding’s owner, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is looking forward to renewing the rivalry.
“He has been in great form and won very well last time,” said Hanagan. “This looks a decent renewal but, hopefully, he is still improving and this will be a good test.”
Krypton Factor, another former Dubai Golden Shaheen winner, is also booked for his first appearance of the term in the Dubawi Stakes.
The eight-year-old won the Dubai World Cup night headline sprint on the former all-weather surface, in 2012.
Though two years younger than Reynaldothewizard the Fawzi Nass owned and trained galloper has more miles on the clock with 39 career starts compared to only 23 for his older rival. They are level pegging with nine wins apiece.
Cool Cowboy is another who may attract Pick Six support on the back of trainer Doug Watson’s form as he continues to lead the Trainers’ Championship.
Speed Hawk appears the strongest chance of the international contingent. The Robert Cowell-trained five-year-old is switching surfaces after a turf placing seven days ago.
Limario, trained by Watson, will be amongst the favourites for the Singspiel Stakes following a solid first-up fourth in the National Day Cup (1600m) at Abu Dhabi in early December.
The six-year-old was an impressive course and distance winner in handicap-company last February.
“He has improved from his comeback and had a nice break since,” said Watson. “He is in great form at home and we are looking forward to running him.”
Pick Six players will also be paying close attention to the Dhruba Selvaratnam-trained Farraaj who will be having his third outing under the care of the Jebel Ali-based handler.
The seven-year-old, a Group 3 winner on all-weather in Great Britain in 2013 and third in a Group 1 on turf in Australia in 2014, should have improved from his seasonal reappearance on his home track in December.
“He needed that first run,” said Selvaratnam. “This looks a tough race but hopefully he can run well.”
A Watson runner also features among the leading chances for the UAE 1000 Guineas Trial (1400m) for three-year-old fillies.
Polar River created a large impression when trouncing 12 rivals on her sole appearance to date, in a 1200m maiden at Meydan on December 3. Though lacking the maturity and experience of most of her opposition she passed the line almost 14 lengths clear.
Godolphin’s trainer, Saeed bin Suroor will saddle two fillies, Promising Run and Pure Diamond. Both have run four times and each has two wins.
Dubai World Cup Carnival powerhouse Mike De Kock will be represented by the former South Africa-based Almashooqa. The Australian-bred won on debut in February of last year and most recently in her four-run career to date was second in the Grade 1 Golden Slipper (1400m) at Durban’s Greyville Racecourse in July.
The UAE 2000 Guineas Trial, open to both sexes, may be at the mercy of Godolphin.
Bin Suroor will saddle Steady Pace, third in the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes in the United Kingdom when last seen. Meanwhile, Godolphin colleague, Charlie Appleby is represented by Rouleau who was over three lengths behind Steady Pace when fifth in the same race.
Among the eight-strong field Calder Prince and Market Rally are both unbeaten so far but face harder tasks at Meydan.