Godolphin, victorious in three of just five races they were involved in on Thursday, return to Meydan for the second part of a Carnival double header today and will be hoping Confrontation can repeat his victory of last year in the Group 3 Firebreak Stakes.
One of the newer feature races at the Carnival, having been inaugurated in 2009, Godolphin have actually won the 1600m dirt feature five times, including twice with Skysurfers who landed consecutive renewals in 2010 and 2011.
He was trained by Saeed bin Suroor, as Confrontation now is having landed this race 12 months ago when saddled by Kiaran McLaughlin.
He only had one run subsequently when, perhaps surprisingly, dropping back in trip and contesting the 1200m Group 1 Golden Shaheen on Dubai World Cup night.
Sixth there, he has now joined Bin Suroor at Al Quoz Stables and his new trainer said: “Obviously these conditions suit him as he won the race last year. We are pleased with him at home but do expect him to improve markedly for the race.”
Satish Seemar saddles two of the eight runners with stable jockey, Richard Mullen, choosing to partner North America, unbeaten locally after three UAE starts, over Surfer, winner of the Group 2Al Maktoum Challenge R1, over this course and distance, in 2015 but not seen on the track for just over 40 days.
Assistant trainer, Bhupat Seemar, said: “North America has been a revelation this season and just keeps improving so deserves this step up in class. He is exciting. Surfer has been off a fair while after a few problems but is in good form at home and should run well.”
There are not many Carnival feature races South African, Mike de Kock, has not won but this is among the list. He relies on Lindo Amor and said: “He ran very well in the first round of the Maktoum Challenge but less so in the second round last week. He has the perfect draw in one and we are hoping he will be thereabouts.”
The Doug Watson-trained Desert Force, on the other hand, is drawn widest of all in eight. His trainer said: “The draw is not ideal but the 1600m should suit him as he found 1200m too sharp last time. He should run well in a tough race.”
De Kock and Bin Suroor have both won the Group 3 UAE 2000 Guineas, also over 1600m on dirt, five times but only the latter is represented this year. He saddles two for Godolphin, Best Solution and Thunder Snow, a Group One winner in France when last seen in October.
Christophe Soumillon, strongly associated with the De Kock team, was aboard then and is again on a proven class performer who escapes a penalty, while Adrie de Vries, who enjoyed a treble on Thursday, partners Best Solution
Bin Suroor said: “We have been very pleased with Thunder Snow since he arrived in Dubai and he worked very well on Monday. Hopefully he will handle the surface. The 1400m trial was too sharp for Best Solution and this extra 200m will certainly suit him.”
That trial was won by Fly At Dawn, also owned by Godolphin but trained by Charlie Appleby and chased home by the Doug Watson-trained Cosmo Charlie. Both are back in action and have at least proved themselves on the surface.
A special day in the fabled career of India’s Kapil Dev occurred 23 years ago, as he gained a place in the record books.
The incredible all-rounder claimed his 432nd Test wicket after 64 minutes of the third Test against Sri Lanka, moving him beyond Richard Hadlee’s world record.
Hashan Tillakaratne was the victim, being taken at short leg by Sanjay Manjrekar. The historic feat was celebrated with the release of 432 balloons in Ahmedabad and a minute’s standing ovation.
Lost in the salutation was the fact it happened as India claimed a ninth home win in a row, during which spinners Venkatapathy Raju and Rajesh Chauhan shared an outstanding 17 wickets.
Other memorable events that took place on this day
1936: Jay Berwanger is first pick by Philadelphia in the first NFL draft.
1960: Boston Celtic’s Bill Russell becomes 1st NBA star with 50 rebounds (51) in one game.
2006: The iconic Belgian Grand Prix at Spa Francorchamps is dropped from the Formula One calendar.
2014: Norwegian biathlete Ole Einar Bjoerndalen equals the Winter Olympics medal record with 12.
Steve Nash was towered over by most of his peers in the NBA, but the man who was born on this day 43 years ago became a true giant of the sport for his achievements on the court.
The South Africa-born Canadian was an eight-time NBA All-Star and a seven-time All-NBA selection while in active duty from 1996-2015.
Nash’s imprint was also felt away from competition, being named by Time magazine as one of its 100 most influential people in the world in 2006 because of his philanthropic work.
The point guard came to the NBA with the Phoenix Suns, a franchise who retired his No13 jersey because of his supreme second stint there from 2004-12.
A true all-rounder, he excelled at three-point shooting, free throws and making assists. Since retirng, he has been a co-owner of Vancouver Whitecaps in Major League Soccer.
Other sport stars born on this day
1978: Daniel van Buyten, giant ex-Belgium and Bayern Munich centre-back (39).
1988: Matthew Stafford, resolute NFL quarterback for the Detroit Lions who was a 2014 Pro Bowler (29).
1989: Elia Viviani, Italian cyclist for Team Sky won gold in the omnium at the 2016 Rio Olympics (28).
1992: Sergi Roberto, utility player for Barcelona and Spain who is comfortable in midfield or full-back (25).