With all the focus on favourites West Coast, Forever Unbridled and Talismanic, American 4-year-old Gunnevera has stepped up his preparations for the Dubai World Cup and may yet spring a big surprise come Saturday.
Trainer Antonio Sano and owner Solomon Del-Valle watched the thoroughbred roll through a gallop of about 2400m at Meydan on Tuesday morning just after 07:00 as exercise rider Victor O’Farell held the son of Dialed In.
“He looks very good,” Sano said. “He maybe lost a little weight after the long flight over here, but he is in very good condition.”
Sano is determined not to overwork his charge and there are no plans for Gunnevera to do any speed work while in Dubai.
The Venezuelan noted that the chestnut drilled three times in March at Gulfstream Park West prior to shipping to the UAE, including a 1400m workout in a brisk 1:24 on March 10.
Gunnevera is not an easy horse to be around in the barn, with Sano noting that he is infamous for biting his caretakers, but the trainer described him as the “best horse of my life,” and if there is a solid pace in the Dubai World Cup, Sano said he expects Gunnevera to be charging forward at the end.
“He’s got a big chance to win,” added Del-Valle.
The global stars are out! ✨ @DubaiWorldCup contenders GUNNEVERA & TALISMANIC, top 🇺🇸 trainer Mark Casse’s first Dubai starter HOLDING GOLD (Al Quoz Sprint) and 2-time defending Dubai Gold Cup champ VAZIRABAD 🇫🇷 glittered this morning! #DubaiWorldCup— Meydan Racing (@DRC_Meydan) March 25, 2018
Meanwhile, another DWC contender Furia Cruzada was kept away from the crowds and closer to his stable by trainer Erwan Charpy in order to maintain a quieter environment for a 6-year-old mare who can be flighty on occasion.
“She cantered for about 2000m out the back today,” Charpy said.
“She’s in good shape and seems very happy. With her, it’s always a day-by-day thing, so I’m not sure what we’ll do on Wednesday.
“The owners are coming for the post position draw and everyone seems very excited.”
A distant third favourite to newly crowned American champions West Coast and Forever Unbridled a week ago, the Andre Fabre trained 5-year-old has narrowed distinctly over the last few days.
One of racing’s most eye-catching runners, the bay/brown with the painted white face, has continued to impress with his speed and attitude in morning work at Meydan Racecourse.
Although this will be his first ever race on dirt, his 17 to date have been mostly on turf with one on Chantilly’s polytrack, the Godolphin great has gone about his business like clockwork, striding out beautifully.
The son of Medaglia d’Oro, the French raider was out on the Meydan dirt at 05:00 on Monday morning with exercise rider Claude Scialacqua aboard.
He was accompanied by his stable companion Cloth of Stars, ridden by exercise rider Amelie Foulon, who will run in the US$6million Longines Dubai Sheema Classic on World Cup day.
Travelling head lad Joel Pouchin was on hand to watch the Breeders’ Cup Turf winner in Del Mar last November work over 1400m.
Talismanic led down the back stretch and was then joined by Cloth of Stars for the final straight.
“Both horses worked well,” Pouchin said. “We are very pleased with them.”
Lisa-Jane Graffard, who manages racing operations for Godolphin’s French branch and knows Talismanic better than most, is increasingly optimistic that he can handle his upcoming challenges.
“How Talismanic handles the dirt on his first try in competitive conditions is the big unknown and the hurdle he has to overcome,” she said.
“I think it’s worth repeating that he’s the kind of horse that encourages you to try (because) he’s talented, he’s unflappable and he’s adaptable.
“I would say hopeful rather than confident.”
The Dubai World Cup, without a doubt, is one of the biggest sporting and social occasions on the UAE calendar.
The event, which was born out of the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, is the world’s richest horse race.
We’ve put together all the key details you need to know ahead of the spectacular sporting spectacle.
Make sure to get in touch with us if you’re at Meydan this weekend.
DUBAI WORLD CUP DATE, TIME, VENUE INFO
DATE: Saturday, March 31st 2018
VENUE: Meydan Racecourse, Dubai
GATES OPEN: Midday (GST)
RACING START TIME: 3:45pm (GST)
TICKETS: Tickets for all race meetings, including the Dubai World Cup, are still available. Visit dubaiworldcup.com for full ticketing information and hospitality packages.
RACE SCHEDULE: There are nine races, six in Group 1 and three in Group 2 – with the multi-million dollar Dubai World Cup race bringing an end to proceedings at 8.50pm.
HEADLINE RACE: US$10 million (Dh37m) Dubai World Cup.
WHERE TO WATCH
TV: UAE – Full coverage available on both Dubai Sports and Yas TV.
RADIO: UAE – Listen to the action on Dubai Eye 103.8.
GETTING TO MEYDAN
With 80,000 race-goers travelling to Meydan on Saturday, make sure you make prior transport arrangements to get to the race venue.
There will be plenty of taxi and Uber options available but our advice is to book ahead and be wary that there will be long queues leaving the venue after the conclusion of the racing and the post-race concert.