Thursday, May 23, 2024

Dubai World Cup 2024: Newgate leads Monday track work

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Group 1 Dubai World Cup

The countdown to one of the world’s most prestigious races ramped up on Monday morning as 12 horses were declared for the $12 million feature.

Most of the international contenders took to the Meydan main track in preparation for Saturday’s contest. Notably, Santa Anita Handicap (G1) winner Newgate breezed five furlongs over the dirt with assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes on hand, representing five-time winning handler Bob Baffert.

The son of the all-conquering Into Mischief made his appearance at the top of the mile chute and was partnered in his work by exercise rider Humberto ‘Beto’ Gomez.

Tom Ryan, representing part-owner SF Bloodstock, deemed the gallop ‘perfect’ in a post on X, while Barnes offered a wry smile post-work: “We’re very happy with where he is at, he did exactly what we wanted this morning.”

Frankie Dettori, who won his record-equaling fourth World Cup atop the Baffert-conditioned Country Grammer back in 2022 was in the irons for the Big ‘Cap and is at the controls again this weekend.

The local brigade is also preparing for Dubai’s biggest race with Emirati trainer Musabbeh Al Mheiri saddling up veteran Military Law.  The nine-year-old, a fixture of the local ranks for five seasons, will contest his first Dubai World Cup after upstaging his rivals in the Al Maktoum Classic (G2) on super Saturday.

“He has actually been invited to run in the Dubai World Cup three times, but this will be the first time he actually makes it to the race so it is very exciting,” Al Mheiri said. “He has been improving with every race this season but it will not be easy in this field and against these horses. Hopefully, he can draw between gate three and gate six to give him his best chance.”

Dubai Sheema Classic (G1)

A provisional field of 12 has been declared for the Dubai Sheema Classic, featuring a remarkable 10 Group 1 winners.

It was a fairly quiet morning for many of these horses, with Japan’s superstar filly Liberty Island particularly attracting attention as she paraded in front of the throngs already at Meydan.

Junko, winner of the Hong Kong Vase (G1) in December, is one of three runners at the meeting for French maestro Andre Fabre. He led his Dubai Gold Cup-bound stablemates Sober and Sevenna’s Knight around the Tapeta training track, located behind Meydan’s back straight.

Richard Lambert, Fabre’s long-time traveling head lad, said: “There have been no problems with Junko, he has recovered well from the flight and is very relaxed. His weight is good and he won’t do much more in terms of work, he will just tick over.”

Dubai Turf (G1)

Sixteen horses from all corners of the world have been declared for the Dubai Turf, including three-time champion Lord North among six Group 1 winners.

One of those yet to win at the highest level is the Jerome Reynier-trained Facteur Cheval, although his efforts last year included four top-level placings in races like the Sussex Stakes (G1) and the Prix d’Ispahan (G1).

His Monday morning saw him canter on the Tapeta training track at a discrete distance behind the three Andre Fabre-trained horses.

Jessy Cabot, Reynier’s traveling head lad, said: “The horse is really calm and has coped with the flight fantastically. He is in good form and everything is going well.

“He is an experienced traveller but it was his first time on a plane. He’s done a lot of travel by road and it’s great that he’s so calm.”

Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1)

A provisional field of 14 has been assembled for the Dubai Golden Shaheen, a race that shapes as a fascinating contest between the United Arab Emirates, the United States and Japan.

Defending champion Sibelius stood out as he took to the track under regular rider Allyson Walker with trainer Jeremiah O’Dwyer casting a watchful eye: “We just let him roll down the lane, he dropped in there around the three-eighths and just started two-minute licking from there. When he got to the quarter pole, he just kept picking it up. I got him in 23.2 seconds his last two furlongs and just let him ease up past the wire.”

Also set to represent the United States is Run Classic for Jose D’Angelo. The Florida-based handler was trackside Monday as the recent winner of the Gulfstream Park Sprint returned for a second session of gate schooling, after which he pronounced himself pleased with the six-year-old’s preparation.

“He did very well,” said the affable D’Angelo. “As a sprinter, it’s really important to have a good start. It’s a different gate and he’s not the best starter at home in his races. So we just want to be on top of all the smallest details.

“It’s the second time he schooled and we’re probably going to come one more time and we’ll be ready.”

Run Classic and Sibelius are two of five American runners in the Dubai Golden Shaheen, a race won by the red, white and blue squad on no fewer than 13 prior occasions.

Al Quoz Sprint (G1)

A 12-strong international array of sprinters will thunder down the Meydan straight on Saturday in the Al Quoz Sprint.

Lining up to defend his title is Musabbeh Al Mheiri’s Danyah, something of a shock winner when returning to the straight last year to defeat Australia’s The Astrologist by a head.

“This has been the aim all season and we have brought him on slowly with this in mind,” Al Mheiri said. “He surprised everyone last season and I think that he has a good chance to repeat last year’s success.”

The Al Quoz Sprint is one of the few races at this meeting which has not been won by Japan. This year, the Hideyuki Mori-trained Jasper Krone, a winner over Japan’s only straight course at Niigata, will seek to change that.

“We cantered on the main track,” Daishi Hidaka, a stable representative, said. “After traveling from Saudi Arabia, we have been able to maintain his condition without any issues and everything is progressing smoothly as we planned.

“His jockey, Taisei Danno, will be aboard for his gallop on Wednesday,”

UAE Derby (G2)

Thirteen three-year-olds will tackle the UAE Derby and, for the 10 runners bred in the northern hemisphere, the allure of a ticket to the G1 Kentucky Derby (2000m) in May looms large.

Among the most eye-catching horses on Monday morning was Pandagate, a son of the late Dubai World Cup winner Arrogate.

Christophe Clement’s charge is hoping to secure a position in the gate for the run for the roses. Winner of the Gander Stakes last out, he certainly drew plenty of admiration, stamping himself as one to follow through the week.

Representing the stable, Clement’s son and assistant Miguel and his wife Acacia both expressed satisfaction with the way he had travelled to the Middle East with more expected from him later in the week.

Dubai Gold Cup (G2)

A full field of 16 stayers will tackle the two-mile journey in the Dubai Gold Cup.

Among their number are Andre Fabre-trained stablemates Sober and Sevenna’s Knight, who followed the Dubai Sheema Classic-bound Junko in a gentle canter on the Tapeta training track on Monday.

Sober was set to run in the Dubai Gold Cup last year but knocked a leg en route and was withdrawn, while Sevenna’s Knight is yet to race outside France.

Richard Lambert, Fabre’s traveling head lad, said: “Sober has taken the travel well this year and there’s been no problems. It’s new to Sevenna’s Knight but he’s been fine and our team have recovered well from the flight and are very relaxed.

“Their weights are all good and after two days they’re nice and relaxed. They will just be ticking over during the week, they won’t do much more in terms of work.”

Japanese stayer Iron Barows will join his half-brother, Dubai Sheema Classic runner Justin Palace, on the Dubai World Cup card. Both horses are also half-brothers to Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice, who now stands at stud in Japan. All three horses are out of the mare Palace Rumor.

Shoritsu Kurono, representing trainer Hiroyuki Uemura, said: “The Meydan turf is firm this year. We galloped him over 1200 meters (about six furlongs) on Sunday to try and keep him as fresh as we can for race day. He breezed well and is in good form, so we will just do light work from here.”

For the home team, Musabbeh Al Mheiri saddles up Daramethos, a winner of the Jebel Ali Stakes just nine days ago. Saturday’s race will represent his first foray beyond 1 1/2 miles.

“We are running in the Dubai Gold Cup as there is no other option for him,” said Al Mheiri. “The Godolphin Mile would have been too short for him, so we will give him a go here.

“It may have surprised others but we expected him to win the Jebel Ali Stakes and he did it well. We are happy with him.”

Godolphin Mile (G2)

One of the most fascinating races of the meeting, the Godolphin Mile has attracted a provisional field of 13.

It is a race in which the Emiratis have done very well in the past and Musabbeh Al Mheiri, who won with Tamarkuz in 2015, will be looking for a second success with Qareeb.

“Every morning, I wake up and I pray for him,” Al Mheiri said. “I’ve liked him from the day he came to us, although he has surely surprised everyone – us included – by making it to the Dubai World Cup meeting this season.

“He will be running on late and I am looking forward to seeing what he can do.”

It is also a race that typically attracts a strong contingent from the United States and this year is no exception. Saudi Crown, a courageous third in the Saudi Cup (G1) at his most recent start, sets a strong benchmark while Caramel Chip creates interest for Florida trainer Jose D’Angelo.

Caramel Chip was a latest fourth to defending Golden Shaheen champ Sibelius in the Listed Pelican Stakes (1200m) at Tampa Bay Downs in early February, but he steps up in trip for the Godolphin Mile.

“I think the longer distance is going to be good for him and this stretch is longer than what he’s used to at home. That is actually going to help both Caramel Chip in the Godolphin Mile and Run Classic in the Shaheen,” D’Angelo said.

Dubai Kahayla Classic (G1)

Dubai World Cup night will start with a heavyweight clash between 13 of the world’s best purebred Arabians, with Saudi Arabia’s Asfan Al Khalediah and Tilal Al Khalediah set for a pulsating battle akin to Ali versus Foreman.

Seeking to keep the trophy on home soil is the lightly raced Alarqam, who was Group 1-placed behind Saturday’s rival Barakka at just his third start when second in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 (G1). He has had one start since, when he finished fifth on the Abu Dhabi turf in the HH The President’s Cup (G1).

“What he has achieved this season isn’t easy,” trainer Musabbeh Al Mheiri said. “To go from a maiden to a handicap to finishing second in a Group 1 in three starts is pretty special.

“The Saudi horse Asfan Al Khalediah will be tough to beat but he is traveling for the first time so you never know!”

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