It’s now week three of the Dubai World Cup Carnival and I’ve noticed a trend — William Buick is not always on the winning Charlie Appleby-trained horse.
Amazingly, the British Champion Jockey, who rode 200 winners in the UK in 2022, has just one winner at Meydan so far this season, and that came on the “good thing” Sovereign Prince. Buick’s good friend and colleague James Doyle, ostensibly the stable number two, has ridden four winners, including three for Appleby.
There’s more to it than meets the eye, however. Buick might not be riding the best Godolphin horse that night, but he might be on the best Godolphin horse.
Confused? Allow me to explain.
Plenty of Appleby’s string are already targeting big prizes on Dubai World Cup day, March 25, and even at June’s Royal Ascot meeting.
Buick might not be on the one primed to win this week, but he could be a horse with a real future and wants to get a gauge of their fitness and ability at this early stage of the season.
It could happen again this week. Appleby has won the featured G2 Zabeel Mile five times and could well make it six, with Master Of The Seas likely to be the warm favorite. Buick rides him, with Doyle onboard Modern News. No one is suggesting that Modern News, a lovely consistent horse but yet to win above Listed level, is of the same caliber as Master Of The Seas, who has won a Group 2 and been second in the G1 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.
However, on Friday, he might be, with Appleby stating that they are “working back” from Super Saturday for Master Of The Seas, while Modern News is fit, ready to go and “won’t look out of place in this field.”
Maybe Buick is playing the long game again, or maybe a half-fit Master Of The Seas will still be too good for his seven rivals. We shall see, but I’ll make Modern News my pick just in case the trend continues.
The card starts with the new Big Easy Sprint Championship for Purebred Arabians, named after one of the best of the breed, who won 21 times during his career. Ernst Oertel saddles four of the eight runners but Namrood, who he doesn’t train, is the one to beat. The locals will take race two, too, with Sayed Hashish’s exciting Colour Up taken to beat emphatic Jebel Ali winner My Dubawi, but perhaps not by much.
Eight will run in the 1,000-meter ARN Handicap (where have all the turf sprinters gone?), in which it’s tempting to go for the talented old boy Taneen, who goes well fresh and loves this track, although the speedy Thunder Of Niagara might be a more sensible pick.
The Listed UAE 1000 Guineas doesn’t look to have a star, but I was taken by Unjokable’s first run and she’s now drawn in one, so maybe she can reverse form with Mimi Kakushi, while Marco Botti’s Ardakan can take the Al-Khail Trophy. He was third in a Group 1 last season, so this is a drop in grade, although the progressive Wickywickywheels is interesting for Bhupat Seemar.
The last race, a 1,400-meter turf handicap, is the most open and international of the night, with horses from Ireland, Spain and the UK taking on the locals. Ian Williams’ Spirit Of Light was unlucky last week and now gets his best trip. Maybe he can continue a good Carnival for the British contingent.