Open Zabeel Anchors Carnival Card

Althiqa | DRC/Erika Rasmussen

The Dubai World Cup Carnival continues at Meydan on Thursday, and the seven-race card is loaded with six stakes races-five at group level-a little over two weeks in advance of the Mar. 6 Super Saturday card.

The G2 Zabeel Mile has been won the past two years by Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby. Per usual, the royal blue is well represented, and the 110-rated D'Bai (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) leads the foursome. The 2019 G2 Al Fahidi Fort victor was only three-quarters of a length back in second when defending his title on Jan. 21. Another Appleby runner is listed hero Art du Val (GB) (No Nay Never), who was a running-on fourth in the G2 Singspiel S. on Jan. 21. Saeed bin Suroor sends out the Jan. 28 course and distance winner Bedouin's Story (GB) (Farhh {GB}).

“D'Bai ran a very good race in the Al Fahidi Fort and the return to 1600m is not a concern as he won over the trip as a young horse,” said Appleby. “The 1800m looked slightly too far for Art Du Val in the Singspiel, so the drop back 200m should be in his favour.”

Said bin Suroor of Bedouin's Story, “This is a big step up in class, but we are looking forward to seeing how he copes with it.”

The MGSW Epic Hero (Fr) (Siyouni {Fr}) is aiming to bounce back after a rough-passage third in a listed race at Newmarket on Halloween. The Simon Crisford runner was also third a start prior in the G3 Darley S. at HQ earlier that month.

Similarly to the Zabeel Mile, the 1800-metre G2 Balanchine on grass attracted another Godolphin quartet, led by Jan. 28 Cape Verdi heroine Althiqa (GB) (Dark Angel {Ire}). If she salutes on Thursday, she will give her connections their third consecutive Balanchine. The roan, carrying three more pounds than her rivals, will also attempt to complete the Cape Verdi/Balanchine double for the third time in three years. Another from the same yard is Group 3 heroine Summer Romance (Ire) (Kingman {GB}), who ran fifth in the Cape Verdi after setting the pace.

“We had slight doubts about the 1600m before the Cape Verdi, but she saw it out well,” said Appleby. “She now has an extra 200m, under a penalty, so that is a new question, but she is in great form. That was a bit disappointing from Summer Romance in the Cape Verdi, but she has worked well since and we will race her in a hood.”

Saeed bin Suroor's duo of 2020 UAE 1000 Guineas winner and MGSP Cape Verdi third Dubai Love (GB) (Night of Thunder {Ire}) returns for another try against Althiqa. “Dubai Love is a tough filly with a touch of class as she displayed winning last year's UAE 1000 Guineas,” said bin Suroor. “The 1800m should really suit her and she is in great form.”

One of Althiqa's chief rivals is Cape Verdi second Stylistique (GB) (Dansili {GB}) for Roger Varian. An allowance winner at Deauville last November, the GSP filly has Andrea Atzeni in the irons. It will be just 11 days short of a year since G3 UAE Oaks victress Down on Da Bayou (Super Saver) ran off the board in the inaugural Saudi Derby, but she makes her long awaited 2021 and grass bow in the Balanchine. Mozzarella (Fr) (Power {GB}), MGSP in France last summer, was a last out fourth at listed level at ParisLongchamp in September.

The G2 Meydan Sprint kicks off the group action at Meydan on Thursday and MGSW A'Ali (Ire) (Society Rock {Ire}) carries top weight of 134 pounds. The five-time group winner's most recent tally was in the G2 Sapphire S. at The Curragh in July, but he ran fourth in York's G1 Nunthorpe S. a month later and trailed home 14th in the G1 Flying Five S. on Sept. 13. Frankie Dettori has the call for Simon Crisford.

Last out Listed Dubai Dash victor Equilateral (GB) (Equiano {Fr}) will not make A'Ali's task an easy one over the grassy 1000-metre trip; nor will Dubai Dash third and G3 World Trophy S. hero Lazuli (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) representing Godolphin.

Sheikh Hamdan's Waady (Ire) (Approve {Ire}), successful in this event in 2020, reported home second in the 1200-metre G3 Dubawi S. on dirt when last seen on Jan 21. “It's really good to be back on grass with him and he's definitely better on it, even though he ran great last out in the Dubawi,” said trainer Doug Watson. “He's in great form and everything about him at the moment is positive.”

Watson's Mnasek (Empire Maker) mauled her opposition by 6 3/4 lengths when unveiled over 1400 metres locally on Dec. 17, and she heads the field for the G3 UAE Oaks on Thursday. She lost her unbeaten tag after breaking poorly in the Listed UAE 1000 Guineas to Godolphin's Soft Whisper (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}), but as that rival is contesting the Feb. 20 $1.5-million Saudi Derby in Riyadh instead, she looks to have a clear playing field.

“She's doing really well and we broke her out of the gate twice with Pat [Dobbs, jockey],” Watson said. “I'm happy with him being on her this time. She has a lot of talent and if you stay out of her mouth–because she's touchy with that–at the start, she will break a lot better. I think she and Super Chianti are in great shape for the run.”

Her winning stablemate Super Chianti (Super Saver) was several lengths back in third in the 1000 Guineas and gains blinkers. Godolphin's Last Sunset (Ire) (Teofilo {Ire}) played bridesmaid to Soft Whisper in the UAE 1000 Guineas Trial at Meydan on Jan. 7, and Saeed bin Suroor sends her back into the fray with Frankie Dettori on board. She was second most recently in the Feb. 4 Meydan Classic Trial versus males on the grass.

Bin Suroor said, “The step up to 1900m should really suit her [Last Sunset] and she ran well on dirt in the trial for the UAE 1000 Guineas, so we have no qualms about the surface.”

American expat Gladiator King (Curlin) towers over his rivals on form in the G3 Al Shindagha Sprint. A winner of both the G3 Dubawi S. and the 2020 Al Shindagha at Meydan last January, the GIII Hutcheson S. hero ran third in the first edition of the Saudia Sprint at Riyadh on Feb. 29. Warming up for a defense of his title in this contest, the 5-year-old entire tired to third in the 1200m Dubawi S. on Jan. 21.

“He's in great form,” said assistant trainer Bhupat Seemar. “He ran third in his first run against fitter horses. He's a big, strong horse and you can only do so much galloping with him to get him in shape enough to compete with those types, so he definitely needed the run. He's definitely tightened up and improved from then.”

Feb. 5 Listed Jebel Ali Sprint winner Al Tariq (Fr) (Oasis Dream {GB}) returns, and he represents trainer Doug Watson. Second in a Jebel Ali handicap last March, he finished in midfield when reappearing in a Meydan handicap on Jan. 21. “That was very rewarding at Jebel Ali and this is the obvious next target,” said Watson. “We think he can at least be competitive in a strong renewal.”

The lightly raced SP The Perfect Crown (Ire) (Hallowed Crown {Aus}) tests the waters at Meydan and at group level for the first time. Third in a Chelmsford conditions affair in September and fourth over a 1500-metre Deauville trip on Dec. 12, he is now trained by Salem bin Ghadayer. Bin Ghadayer said, “We have only had The Perfect Crown about three weeks, so this is a learning mission with him.”

Also on the seven-race card is the 2000-metre Listed Curlin S.    The lightly raced Real World (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}) is one of three in the race for Godolphin. Hailing from the Saeed bin Suroor yard, the 4-year-old colt graduated at Chelmsford in October, and was second in a Meydan conditions head over 1900 metres on Dec. 17. He was third after an awkward break over the same distance in a handicap on Jan. 14. Charlie Appleby's two-time winner Desert Peace, by this stake's namesake, is making his first Meydan start after saluting in a Kempton synthetic test all the way back on June 21.

The ultra-consistent Tailor's Row (Street Cry {Ire}) enters off of a career-best runner-up finish in the Listed Jebel Ali S. on Jan. 5. A winner of three-straight two-turn handicaps prior to that run beginning last December, the Salem bin Ghadayer runner  is joined by stablemate and G1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud hero Mkfancy (Fr) (Makfi {GB}), ninth in that same Jebel Ali contest. Twelfthofneverland (Istan) has won two straight here for Satish Seemar-a 2000-metre handicap on Jan. 16 and another handicap, this time going a mile, on Jan. 30.

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