Guineas trials on tap at Meydan
The trials for both the U.A.E. One Thousand and Two Thousand Guineas take pride of place at Meydan's second meeting of the 2013 Dubai World Cup Carnival Thursday evening and both races have proved a reliable source of classic winners in the past.
Both features on the card are over 1400 meters on the all-weather and the colts' U.A.E. Two Thousand Guineas Trial, the penultimate race on the card, has attracted the maximum field of 14. It is headed by three trained by South African Mike De Kock, who has on four occasions saddled the winner of the U.A.E. Two Thousand Guineas itself. His three most recent winners of that race -- Musir, Honour Devil and Asiatic Boy -- all won this conditions race on their way to big race glory.
Those three all carried the colors of Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum and the owner is represented by both Zahee and El Estruendoso in this race. They are joined by the HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum-owned stable companion, Soft Falling Rain, winner of all four career starts to date but who has to carry a Group 1 penalty.
"Soft Falling Rain is a classy sort with a lot of speed who will need to prove he stays the trip, handles the surface and can cope with that big weight. He is a nice horse though and I think he should stay," de Kock said. "El Estruendoso won his only start and is a bit of an unknown quantity. We will find out a lot about him, while Zahee was a bit late arriving and is likely to need the run most."
David Simcock's English raider Glass Office was a Group 2 winner in England and is also penalized.
Both Godolphin trainers are represented with Silvestre de Sousa riding I'm Back for Saeed bin Suroor while Mahmood Al Zarooni saddles three with Mickael Barzalona aboard Filfil suggesting he is the trainer's main hope.
Ten have been declared for the fillies' equivalent in which Ireland appear to be particularly well represented with the Pat Shanahan-trained My Special J's joined by More Than Sotka, who will be having her first start for David Marnane having previously been trained in France.
Champion jockey, Tadhg O'Shea, partners My Special J's, penalized for a Group 2 win last season and the jockey said, "On the plus side she seems to love the all-weather, the 1400 meters is ideal for her and she has settled in really well. However, we have a wide draw which is not ideal and it is never easy to give weight away. She is not the biggest filly so it has to be a slight concern but Pat has her in great nick."
Of More Than Sotka, Marnane said, "She has done everything we have asked of her and has settled in nicely. I hope she runs well."
Again Godolphin are well represented with both bin Suroor and Al Zarooni saddling two runners. Jockey bookings suggest that Shuruq (bin Suroor) and Music Chart (Al Zarooni) are their main hopes.
Elsewhere on the card there will be a lot of interest in India's star mare, In The Spotlight, one of 16 set to face the starter in the concluding 2410-meter turf handicap. Winner of 11 from 15 starts in her homeland, she will be ridden by Ryan Moore but will need to be at her best to win an ultra competitive race in which the opposition includes last year's November Handicap winner, Art Scholar.
India's highest-earning racehorse is in fine form ahead of her international debut in the Dubai World Cup Carnival tomorrow, according to part-owner, Zavaray Poonawalla.
"She had a lung opener this week under Ryan and he said he was pretty happy with her," Poonawalla said. "Ryan feels that she is fit and she's looking well and he did enough with her to have her ready for the race tomorrow, we are hoping that she can prove herself on the international stage tomorrow."
Poonawalla, who bought a share in the mare recently, said he had been tracking the progress she made under her trainer, S Padmanabhan, in the hope that she could rival the success of Indian dual Dubai World Cup Carnival winner Mystical.
"I have been hoping to have a horse to succeed in Dubai since the success of Mystical," Poonawalla said. "I have been breeding horses for many years and it gives me great satisfaction to breed a winner like In The Spotlight. If she wins tomorrow then that would definitely be a highlight of my involvement in racing."
If she gives a good account of herself tomorrow the plan is to campaign In The Spotlight for the Dubai World Cup day Group 3 Dubai Gold Cup.
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