Al Rashidiya featured on Meydan program
Thursday's meeting of the 2013 Dubai World Cup Carnival is highlighted by the Group 2 Al Rashidiya, an 1800-meter turf contest for which 10 have been declared and, on paper at least, looks by far the best race of the season to date.
Three weeks ago, at the opening meeting, the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Sharestan was the impressive winner of the trial over the same course and distance and, with Silvestre de Sousa again in the saddle, he looks certain to be a popular Pick Six selection. Bin Suroor also has Do It All and Aesop's Fables among the declarations and is seeking a fifth win in the race first contested in 2000.
"They are three nice horses," the Godolphin trainer said. "Sharestan obviously has the advantage of that run when he really pleased us and he has been in great form since. His last piece of work was very good and we hope he is improving.
"This will be a first start for us with Aesop's Fables and we like him a lot. His work has been good and we are looking forward to getting him on the track, while Do It All will probably need this run."
Fellow Godolphin handler, Mahmoud Al Zarooni, saddles City Style, twice a Meydan winner last year before excelling in defeat in Group 1 company when second to Master of Hounds in the Jebel Hatta on Super Saturday and third in the Dubai Duty Free on Dubai World Cup night.
"Obviously conditions are fine but I just think he is going to need this first run back having been off since July," said Al Zarooni, who sounded hopeful rather than confident.
It is not all about Godolphin though and HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum is responsible for three runners, all trained locally, with his retained jockey, Paul Hanagan, choosing to ride So Beautiful, runner-up to Sharestan in the trial and trained by Doug Watson. The American also saddles Albaasil for the owner.
"The trial did not really pan out for So Beautiful but he ran on well once clear in the straight. Hopefully we can get a clear passage this time," Watson said. "Albaasil has been off over 300 days but is as fit and ready as we can get him without a race and this has always been his first major target."
The owner's second jockey, Dane O'Neill, rides the Ali Rashid Al Raihe-trained Derbaas, winner of Abu Dhabi's National Day Cup on his most recent outing.
Like bin Suroor, South African Mike de Kock is also seeking a fifth win in the race, and he relies on The Apache who will be having his first start for the yard.
"He is probably better over a bit further and our horses from South Africa have generally been needing their first run. That said, he is as straight as I can get him at home so he should give a good account," the trainer said.
Irish raiders Light Heavy and Fanunalter, trained by Marco Botti, complete the field.