Godolphin’s Cavalryman, winner of the 2013 Dubai Gold Cup on World Cup night, makes his seasonal reappearance in the Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy, the 2,810m turf feature at Meydan’s ninth meeting of the 2014 Dubai World Cup Carnival.
Trained by Saeed bin Suroor, Cavalryman was out of luck in three European outings since his Meydan win last March.
Fellow Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby saddles Buckwheat, having his second start for the yard after a pleasing local debut two weeks ago. It looks an absolutely cracking renewal of the race with Ireland particularly well represented with three of the 12 runners.
Of the trio, Certerach has already won at this year’s Carnival for Michael Halford and was a close second in this race last year. Shane Foley is again in the saddle.
Former UK Champion Jockey Ryan Moore makes his first UAE appearance of the year to ride Simenon.
The third Irish contender, the John Oxx-trained Saddler’s Rock, will seek to end something of a drought, having not won since landing the Group 2 Goodwood Cup in 2012.
South African Mike De Kock relies on Star Empire here. He has run well in both his starts this season and is likely to be staying on under Christophe Soumillon.
It is a case of quality over quantity at Meydan this evening with eight declared for the Group 2 Zabeel Mile and nine in the Group 3 UAE Oaks, the joint features and both worth $250,000 (Dh917,500).
The 1,900m UAE Oaks, a Tapeta contest restricted to three-year-old fillies, looks at the mercy of Ihtimal, winner of the 1,600m UAE 1000 Guineas three weeks ago for Godolphin and trainer Saeed bin Suroor.
A Group 2 winner and Group 1-placed in England, she was far too good for 10 opponents on that occasion, including all eight who take her on this evening.
Bin Suroor said: “She is a filly we have always really liked and had a good summer in England, but seems to be improving this year. It was a good win in the Guineas and she needed that run.”
Bin Suroor is seeking a ninth win in the race in which fellow Godolphin handler Charlie Appleby saddles Feedyah, who was third to Ihtimal on their local debut.
Splitting Ihtimal and Feedyah in that first fillies’ classic was Mensoora, one of three in the race for South African Mike De Kock.
De Kock is also triple-handed in the Group 2 Zabeel Mile, a race he won in the inaugural running in 2007 with Kapil and has won twice more since.
His Anaerobio has already won twice at this year’s Carnival, including the 1,400m Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort, but is penalised as a result and has to give weight to his seven rivals from the outside draw.
Stable companion Mushreq, like Anaerobio, won at the first meeting of the 2014 Carnival, winning the inaugural Singspiel Stakes over 1,800m.
He won the Al Fahidi Fort last year (when it was over 1,600m) and was just denied in the Group 2 Al Rashidiya by stablemate Mujaarib.
Gale Force Ten completes the trainer’s trio, and De Kock said: “They are all in and well but Anaerobio looks to face a stiff task under the conditions.
"Gale Force Ten is improving fitness-wise all the time and Mushreq does not know how to run a bad race.
"Hopefully they will all run well."
The race was won last year by UK raider Trade Storm, back to defend his crown with Jamie Spencer aboard for trainer David Simcock, who said: “He needed his first run badly and is hopefully spot on now. With luck, he will at least go close here and then we will run him again next week on Super Saturday.”
Race 1 Horse 1,400m Tapeta handicap My Freedom
Race 2 1,200m Tapeta handicap Merhee
Race 3 1,400m turf Meydan Classic Wednaan
Race 4 1,900m Tapeta UAE Oaks Feedyah
Race 5 1,600m Group 2 Zabeel Mile Mushreq
Race 6 2,200m Tapeta handicap Winterlude
The Godolphin Stud and Stable Award winners were announced yesterday night in a glitzy ceremony at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel in London, with Leanne Masterton, the travelling head girl for Ian Balding, winning racing’s employee of the year.
Television presenter Clare Balding, previously of the BBC, presented Masterton the perpetual Godolphin Trophy, alongside 18-time Champion National Hunt Jockey Tony McCoy.
As well as the trophy, Masterton won £30,000 (Dh183,900), of which £15,000 will be shared amongst the staff at the historic Park House Stables in Kingsclere where she works.
Masterton joined Park House at 16 and has developed into one of the finest and most respected travelling grooms on the international circuit.
She rode seven winners as an apprentice and the highlight of her 18-year career came in 2013 when she accompanied Side Glance on his trip to Australia where he won the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington Racecourse.