International contingent looking to hit back at Dubai World Cup Carnival

International contingent looking to hit back at Dubai World Cup Carnival
A picture shows the main-stand of the Meydan Racecourse ahead of the Dubai World Cup horse racing event (AFP)
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Updated 26 January 2023

International contingent looking to hit back at Dubai World Cup Carnival

International contingent looking to hit back at Dubai World Cup Carnival
  • 23 overseas-trained horses will take part across eight races at Meydan on Friday

Having finished placed in three races last week, I’m hoping we see a fightback from the visiting international contingent against the locals when Meydan stages its fourth Carnival meeting on Friday.

There are 23 overseas-trained horses taking part across the eight races and they have some strong chances of recording a third winner, having already had Enemy and Al-Dasim triumph for British trainers Ian Williams and George Boughey. But the locals — including Godolphin, of course — will be extremely tough to beat.

One of the leading international hopes is Nicolas Caullery’s Batwan, who is two from two at Meydan but now goes up in grade in the Listed Dubai Sprint. I’d love him to win, but he might well need the run and I’m not brave enough to tip him against a race-fit Man of Promise, who will appreciate being back at 1,200m.

It should be another good night for Man of Promise’s trainer Charlie Appleby, who has Naval Power as the hot favorite in the Jumeirah Classic. A Listed race, it’s a big drop in grade from the G1 he ran in last time out. For the other Godolphin stable, that of Saeed bin Suroor, it will be a shock if Mawj is beaten in the Jumeirah Fillies’ Classic, while her stablemate White Wolf was once considered a Derby candidate. He returns in the Zabeel Turf off what looks a lenient handicap mark of 99.

There are no international runners in the Longines G3 Firebreak Stakes, which is the night’s official feature and a prep for the G2 Godolphin Mile. It’s an open race, with impressive course and distance winner Prince Eiji one of three for Doug Watson, while Bhupat Seemar is also triple-handed with Law of Peace, Discovery Island and Imperial Empire. While stable jockey Tadhg O’Shea has picked Law of Peace, Discovery Island ran a great race in a higher grade than this last time and should be fitter than his stablemate, so he’s the one for me.

The last race, the Longines Record Collection handicap, does see some intrepid Europeans try the dirt. The Caullery team tell me that their King Gold has transformed since arriving in Dubai so he’s very interesting if he takes to the surface, while Josephino represents young Czech trainer Ingrid Koplikova, who is having her first runners in Dubai.

The problem for them, however, is that they are up against a few course and distance specialists who have been aimed at this race. They include Rodaini, who won it way back in 2019, and Raaeb, so impressive over this same trip at the start of the season. My pick is Western Symphony, however, who has done very little wrong in four starts this campaign, winning once and placing three times.

There’s a couple more races I haven’t mentioned. The opening Oud Metha Stakes looks very open, but maybe Lahresh, second to Guineas contender Shirl’s Bee last time, can take it, while Withering could be the one to side with in race three, the Longines Legend Diver Collection Handicap.

As you can see from my selections, it will be tough for those 23 international runners . . . but here’s hoping.