Grass-Centric Carnival Card at Meydan

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Ispolini | Dubai Racing Club

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Turf races rule the day in Thursday's Dubai World Cup Carnival card at Meydan. Each of the quintet of races for Thoroughbreds take place on the grass, with the $195,000 G3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy Sponsored by Gulf News the crown jewel.

Held over 2810 metres, the contest drew 2019 race winner and G3 Deutsches St Leger hero Ispolini (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) who anchors the Godolphin brigade. Charlie Appleby's bay has been seen on the racecourse only sparingly, and he was in action only twice last year with a staying on fourth in the Listed Tapster S. at Haydock his best run. Off the board in the Listed Dubai Racing Club Classic when in need of a run on Jan. 21, Ispolini completed the superfecta in the Feb. 4 Listed Meydan Cup over course and distance.

Appleby said of Ispolini,”He needed his first run and ran well second time. They were both handicaps when he has big weights, so on level weights here, he should be thereabouts in a competitive race.”

In front of him that day were Saeed bin Suroor barnmates Volcanic Sky (GB) (Street Cry {Ire}) and Global Heat (Ire) (Toronado {Ire}) in second and third, respectively.

Ismail Mohammed's Away He Goes (Ire) (Farhh {GB}) has given every indication that he is maturing into a force to be reckoned with in the staying division later on in the Carnival. A 2400-metre handicap at Doncaster went his way in September, and the 5-year-old gelding-equal to Ispolini on official ratings of 107–has filled the frame in his two latest runs. Third in the Listed Dubai Racing Club Classic locally going a quarter mile shorter on Jan. 21, he went one better over that trip in a local handicap on Feb. 11.

Mohammed said, “He has run very well both times this year over 2400m and, we hope, the extra 400m is going to be in his favour.”

The G3 Dubai Millennium S. is conducted over 2000 metres, and, although light on experience, the three-time winner Star Safari (GB) (Sea the Stars {Ire}) looms one of the main protagonists. Listed placed two back in the Zabeel Turf on Jan. 28, the Charlie Appleby trainee stalked and pounced to win a local handicap over 2410 metres on this course on Feb. 11.

“He ran well on his comeback after 11 months off and won nicely last time,” said Appleby, who is seeking a fourth consecutive winner and a fifth edition in six years. “That was only his sixth career start and returning to 2000m should not be an issue.”

Three more Godolphin runners hail from the Saeed bin Suroor barn, with recent G2 Singspiel S. third and 2019 G1 Jebel Hatta victor Dream Castle (GB) (Frankel {GB}) booked in stall seven and stablemate Royal Marine (Ire) (Raven's Pass), who won the G1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere in 2018, next to him in gate eight.

Simon Crisford's Halimi (Ire) (Teofilo {Ire}) returns off of three weeks' rest. The SP Rabbah Racing colourbearer was fourth in the Listed Dubai Racing Club Classic on Jan. 21 and was outfooted throughout the Listed Meydan Cup going a half-mile longer on Feb. 4.

Meydan's third race is the 1600-metre Listed Meydan Classic on grass. Top of the heap on ratings at 112 is the well-hyped Master of the Seas (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) for the Godolphin/Charlie Appleby axis. The colt, who holds Classic entries in the Irish 2000 Guineas/Irish Derby, overcame a rough break to win the G2 Superlative S. last summer. Stepped up to Group 1 company, the son of G1 French 1000 Guineas bridesmaid Firth of Lorne (Ire) (Danehill) was fourth in the National S. at The Curragh when last seen on Sept. 13.

“Master of the Seas is the class horse in the race, but as I said to the whole team, the focus is very much on Europe and pointing him toward the Guineas,” said Appleby. “He's had a long time off and he's going out there to hopefully get a nice experience, but whatever he does, he'll improve a lot for it. He was very keen in the National S. and did it the wrong way around, so I'd like to see him get into a nice rhythm and see the race out, doing it the right way around, with very much an eye on Europe.”

His stablemate, MGSP Naval Crown (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}), has finished third in three consecutive Group 3 races, including in the Feb. 4 G3 UAE 2000 Guineas and should come forward from that effort.

Fawzi Nass saddles first-out winner Mayehaab (GB) (New Approach {Ire}). Successful by a length over Yurman (Arg) (Asiatic Boy {Arg}) in a 1700-metre Meydan maiden affair on Feb. 13, the chestnut breaks from the rail.

The evening's nightcap is the over-subscribed Listed Meydan Challenge over 1400 metres also on grass, with Godolphin's Well of Wisdom (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}) signed on to tote a field-leading 136 pounds. The MGSP Charlie Appleby trainee captured the 2020 Listed Meydan Classic last February, as well as a June 13 Sandown handicap in successive starts. Off the board in the G1 Prix Jean Prat after making the early running in July, he rebounded with a listed win at Deauville in August. After an unplaced finish in the G3 Prix Daphnis there on Aug. 22, he was gelded and Feb. 25 is his first start back.

Saeed bin Suroor sends out Light and Dark (GB) (Shamardal), who won a Kempton all-weather handicap going this trip on Oct. 7. Listed winner Escobar (Ire) (Famous Name {GB}) has not enjoyed the best luck of late, and, although he ran third in both the G2 Lennox S. and G3 Supreme S. both at Goodwood last summer, the David O'Meara trainee has posted three successive off the board finishes, including the Feb. 18 G2 Zabeel Mile.

Charlie Hills's Fleeting Prince (Ire) (No Nay Never) appears to be improving at the right time and made up some late ground to take third in the Listed Dubai Sprint on Feb. 4 for a career best, one better than Could Be King (GB) (Bated Breath {GB}) for Ken Condon.

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