The sprinters take centre stage at Thursday's second meeting of the Dubai World Cup Carnival and the last two winners of World Cup night’s Group 1 Golden Shaheen, Reynaldothewizard and Krypton Factor, clash in the inaugural running of the Listed Dubawi Stakes.
Over the same 1,200m Tapeta course and distance as the Golden Shaheen, nine have been declared and a case can be made for each in a fascinating clash.
Trained by Satish Seemar, Reynaldothewizard won the 2013 renewal of that World Cup night feature from Balmont Mast and 2012 winner Krypton Factor, both in opposition again – as are United Color (fifth) and Kavanagh (sixth).
The victory of Seemar’s stable star in March was a first international Group 1 winner for stable jockey Richard Mullen, who said: “That was a great night in March and the horse is obviously a big favourite of us all.
His work has been good and we have waited for this race as the conditions suit him.”
Krypton Factor, representing Bahraini Fawzi Nass, has not won since his big race success in 2012 but ran well at Meydan last year. Nass said: “He loves that Tapeta surface and 1,200m is ideal for him.
He was an excellent third at Royal Ascot before his European campaign tailed off on soft ground that he does not like. These are more his conditions.”
United Color, a course and distance handicap winner for Dhruba Selvaratnam and Kavanagh, a 1,200m winner on turf for South African Mike De Kock, are both proven Carnival performers.
The same applies to the sole UK runner, 2012 Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint winner Hitchens, trained by David Barron Throw in the progressive course and distance winner Rafeej, trained by the very in-form Musabah Al Muhairi, and three live contenders from Ireland, headed by the aforementioned Balmont Mast, and it looks a crackerjack of a sprint.
The main support races are the trials for the first classics of the season, the UAE 1000 and 2000 Guineas and it would not be a surprise if both 1,400m Tapeta contests are dominated by De Kock and Godolphin.
The strongest of the two races on the evening is the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial and the South African, who won this race last year with subsequent UAE 2000 Guineas and Godolphin Mile winner Soft Falling Rain, saddles both Full Combat and Journeyman.
The Godolphin silks will be carried by both Emirates Flyer, trained by Saeed bin Suroor, and Charlie Appleby’s Safety Check.
Should the big guns not prevail, the Irish challenger, Dolce N Karama, looks the most likely beneficiary.
Trained by Pat Shanahan, he has finished fourth in both career starts to date, most recently in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster.
Only 10 have been declared for the fillies’ equivalent with De Kock’s pair Magroora and Mag-rooma facing off against Godolphin duo Wedding Ring and Autumn Lily, both trained by Appleby.
ADCB Polo stunned defending champions Zedan 9-6 in their opening Pool B match in the HH President of UAE Polo Cup on Wednesday.
Earlier, Alfredo Capella grabbed seven goals as Abu Dhabi crushed Desert Palm 8-4 in the first match at Ghantoot Racing and Polo Club in Abu Dhabi.
ADCB’s Facunda Sola scored the first goal before being replaced by Juan Zavalita in the second chukka. Zavalita scored four goals while Juan Zubiaurre added three to the tally.
Pelayo Berazadi also got himself on the score sheet with a solo effort in the third chukka. Zedan’s Pelon Stirling cut the deficit with four goals, but team-mates Luis Gagliardi and Rodulfo Ducos failed to reach double figures.
Capella’s most successful period of the game came in the third chukka, where he scored four times as well scoring once in the other three.
His team-mate Victorio Monteverde found himself on the score sheet in the second chukka. Desert Palm struggled throughout the match with only Santiago Laborde scoring all four goals.
In Tuesday’s action, Al Habtoor and Bin Drai got off to winning starts in Pool A. Al Habtoor beat UAE Polo 6-5 in the first match, while Bin Drai won by an identical scoreline over Ghantoot Al Basti.
Al Habtoor’s Guillermo Cuitino top scored with three goals while Bin Drai’s Raul Laplacette put him-self on the score sheet with a four-goal tally against Ghantoot Al Basti.
The eight-team tournament consists of four chukkers except the Grand Final match, which will have five chukkers and which will be played on January 24.
Ghantoot Al Basti captain Nasser Al Shamsi believes the UAE team and Zedan pose the biggest threat to their chances of winning the HH President of UAE Polo Cup.
Ghantoot Al Basti play their opening qualification match of the eight-team tournament against Bin Drai in Pool A at Ghantoot Racing and Polo Club (GRPC) today, before the UAE face Al Habtoor in the Pool’s second game of the day.
The tournament comprises two matches each day, and will adhere to the Hurlingham Polo Association rules.
The top two teams from each pool will reach the semi-finals and the Grand Final will take place on January 24.
Al Shamsi said: “We have a good chance as well as any of the other teams who have a good chance. It’s difficult to say which teams can win the tournament.
"For example, the UAE Polo team has one player who is nine-handicapped (Lucas Monteverde) and Zedan has some strong players especially Pelon Stirling.
“I think these players will make a huge difference to their teams.”
Among the teams for the 16-goal handicap tournament, are ADCB Polo from Ghantoot, who will be led by captain Facunda Sola.
His team will play defending champions Zedan, Desert Palm and Abu Dhabi in Pool B.
Sola said: “We are very excited. I am very enthusiastic to play in this tournament in preparation for the World Cup in Dubai.
“I am representing Ghantoot and for them it’s a home tournament and we want to win.”