Nations Pride Friday's DWCC Headliner

Nations Pride | Coglianese Photography

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The Dubai World Cup Carnival adds its own footnote to the study of flags, known as vexillology for the more serious, since its intent is to draw horses from all over the world. As the meet continues to march towards its big night in late March, another Friday of racing arrives with a trio of Group 3 events.

Waving Godolphin Blue

The G3 Dubai Millennium S. sports this week's headliner, as Grade I winner Nations Pride (Ire) (Teofilo {Ire}) returns for a new campaign after what could be considered a successful 2022. The Godolphin homebred won last year at Meydan in the Jumeirah Derby, before competing at Newmarket, Epsom, in the 'Turf Triple' at each of the NYRA courses Stateside and finally in the GI Breeders' Cup Turf, where he was fifth behind stablemate Rebel's Romance (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}). Bearing the blue brought him an Eclipse Award nomination in the Male Turf Division off of his victories in the GI Saratoga Derby Invitational S. in August and the GIII Jockey Club Derby Invitational S. in September, as well as his runner-up effort in the first leg of the Turf Triple, the GI Belmont Derby Invtiational S. in July. The 4-year-old colt should enjoy a return to 10 furlongs here as the deserving favorite in European markets.

“There will be some improvement to come for whatever he [Nations Pride] does on his seasonal return, as we hope that he has another international campaign ahead of him this year, said trainer Charlie Appleby. “Depending on how he goes here, we will consider potentially looking at the [G1] Jebel Hatta [on Super Saturday] or the [G1] Dubai Turf [on Dubai World Cup night].”

Appleby also runs multiple stakes winner and multiple group-placed Ottoman Fleet (GB) (Sea The Stars {Ire}), third in the G2 Singspiel S. last time out. “Returning to this distance looks as though it might benefit Ottoman Fleet based on his two runs so far this year,” he continued. “He goes into the race a fit horse with solid form around him, so he should be a major player.”

Dual French listed winner Zagrey (Fr) (Zarak {Fr}) is aiming to improve after a fourth in the G3 Al Rashidiya on Jan. 13.

Longshot in the Nad Al Sheba

As for the other group races on Friday, a true distance test and  prep race for the G2 Dubai Gold Cup will be proctored at 14 panels on the grass in the G3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy S. Godolphin, winners on nine occasions, has the advantage with four runners in Global Heat (Ire) Toronado (Ire), Brilliant Light (GB) (Sea The Stars), Siskany (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire} and Kemari (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}).

“Siskany looks great and will be a player if he brings his best form to the table,” said Charlie Appleby. “He has won over the course and trip, so he looks the one they have to beat.

“Kemari will also be competitive if he can rekindle some of his old form. He ran some solid races last year but can be a little inconsistent these days.”

Added fellow Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor, “Global Heat won over this trip in the Al Khail Trophy and came out of his recent handicap run in good order. He stays well and I'm hoping for another good effort. Brilliant Light worked well last week and has some good form over this distance. He is ready to go again and will appreciate the step up in trip.”

Not to be overlooked is the Amy Murphy trainee Magical Morning (GB) (Muhaarar {GB}), who is a quality longshot and could play the role of spoiler, if the gelding can handle the stretch out in distance.

American Jaunt Continues in UAE Oaks

Rounding out Friday's Group 3 events is a Classic on the dirt oval that brings together seven fillies. Of these, Mimi Kakushi (City Of Light) looks best, not because her barn won this race last year, but because the bay filly clearly likes the Meydan surface–including a pair of wins in the UAE 1000 Guineas Trial over 1400 metres on Dec. 23 and in the Listed UAE 1000 Guineas upped to a mile on Jan. 20. Seven fillies have completed the UAE Guineas/Oaks double, with Shahama (Munnings), subsequently second in the GII Mother Goose S. and a winner of the GIII Monmouth Oaks in America, the latest in 2022.

Standing in her way will be the American-based Ami Please (Goldencents) for trainer Doug O'Neill. Running solely on turf since her California debut at Del Mar on Aug. 1, she was third last time out in the Blue Norther S. at Santa Anita, finishing just behind next out winner, Manhattan Jungle (Ire) (Bungle Inthejungle {GB}). Her barn collected a savory win last Friday with Tall Boy (Lookin At Lucky) in the G3 UAE 2000 Guineas.

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