Trained by Charlie Appleby, Tryster will be having only a fourth turf outing, having established himself as a strong performer on synthetic all-weather surfaces with six wins from as many outings.
It was hoped he could reproduce that level of form on dirt but connections have decided against that option, switching to turf at Meydan Thursday.
Appleby said: “We seriously considered running him on dirt but, on balance, the style of racing and actual surface were not likely to allow him to use his telling turn of foot to best effect. So we are trying him back on turf where, hopefully, he will get a fast pace to aim at in the straight. He won on fast ground at Brighton but nothing has gone right for him on two subsequent turf outings.
“If he fails to show his form this evening, we will revert to the all-weather but we are hopeful as he looks amazing and has been working well.”
Fellow Godolphin handler Saeed bin Suroor, seeking a fourth consecutive win in the race, relies on Haafaguinea, a 2400m turf handicap winner on his return four weeks ago. Stable jockey, James Doyle, has appendicitis so Freddy Tylicki takes the ride on a horse who also won twice over this evening’s course and distance last year.
Bin Suroor said: “This is a step up in class but he deserves it, is in good form and goes particularly well at Meydan.”
South African Mike de Kock saddles two with Sanshaawes, the mount of Christophe Soumillon and a course and distance winner already this season, looking the stable’s first choice over the Wayne Smith-ridden Tellina.
Fresh from a Meydan double on Thursday, including a first Classic winner courtesy of Polar River in the UAE 1000 Guineas, former champion trainer Doug Watson, who leads the current trainers’ championship, has no less than 15 runners at Saturday’s Meydan meeting, a domestic (non-Carnival) affair.
With 37 winners to his credit already after Thursday’s meeting, seven more than closer pursuer Ali Rashid Al Raihe, Watson is enjoying a fantastic season and will be confident of adding to his tally on Saturday.
He may only have to wait until the second race when he saddles Stunned in a 1200m dirt handicap. Second on his local debut at Jebel Ali, he has since twice finished third over 1400m, once back at Jebel Ali and most recently at Meydan. Reverting to 1200m looks likely to suit and he only faces six rivals under Pat Dobbs.
Mutasayyid from the @rhannonracing yard, who had a cracking mention from Doug Watson runs tomorrow in the fourth at Meydan. Excited.— Al Maktoum Race Club (@AlMaktoumRacing) February 12, 2016
Watson said: “This looks a good opportunity for him and the horses continue in great form.”
The Al Raihe-trained Mutahaddith, the mount of Tadhg O’Shea and the talented, but fragile, Glenleven, with Richard Mullen riding for Satish Seemar, look the main dangers.
The two turf handicaps appear ultra competitive with the 1600m one attracting a full field of 14. Again Dobbs and Watson, who saddles four in the race, appear to hold a major chance, this time with Charlie Croker.
Winner of a similar race, over 1200m, on his penultimate start, he lost little in defeat last time when second over 1400m, also on the Meydan turf. He was staying on well then, behind an unexposed rival and the extra 200m should suit him on that evidence.
Dobbs said: “He has been in good form and the quick surface at Meydan has really suited him. We have a nice low draw so he should run another big race in a competitive heat.”
Al Raihe and O’Shea again appear to provide one of the main dangers in 1600m, courtesy of Need To Know, runner-up on both his most recent starts on the Meydan turf.
Should he get in the field, first reserve, Cross Grain would be a very interesting contender on what would be only his sixth career start and turf debut. He is trained by Satish Semar.
Watson was not the only trainer to saddle his first UAE Classic winner on Thursday with Dhruba Selvaratnam repeating the trick. He combined with stable jockey Chris Hayes to win the UAE 2000 Guineas and their Roossey looks to hold serious claims in the 1200m turf handicap.
Runner-up on his two most recent starts, he was caught right on the line over this course and distance by the aforementioned Charlie Croker who could well advertise the form two races earlier. Sheikh Hamdan provides five of the 12 runners with Hanagan aboard Banaadeer and O’Neill riding Greeb, both trained by Watson.
The sprinters take centre stage at Meydan this evening, the sixth meeting of the 2016 Dubai World Cup Carnival and Reynaldothewizard will be hoping to repeat his victory of 12 months ago in the 1200m Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint.
Trained by Satish Seemar, and winner of the 2013 Group 1 Golden Shaheen (on Meydan’s previous Tapeta surface), Reynaldothewizard is currently unbeaten on Meydan’s current dirt surface.
On Thursday night will be his fourth Meydan start since the switch to dirt and he also won the Listed Dubawi Stakes, over the same 1200m course and distance, on his seasonal debut in each of the last two seasons.
His jockey, Richard Mullen, said: “He seems in good shape but you never really know with him as he does very little at home in the mornings. He saves his best for the track, which is probably why, as a 10yo, he is still going so strong.
“This is a stronger race than the one we won last time but there looks a guaranteed fast gallop which will really suit him.”
Arguably the most interesting runner is Godolphin’s Marking; in the care of former UAE Champion Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who has only had three starts. After winning his first two he was second on Boxing Day in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes behind Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner, Runhappy.
That was over 1400m and this will be the shortest trip he has tried but McLaughlin said: “We genuinely hope he could develop into a top sprinter. The drop in trip should not hurt and, when we arrived, I actually thought he was the most likely of the four Godolphin horses I have brought over to win.”
Another Group One winner among the 10 declared, in what appears a very strong renewal, is Hong Kong’s Rich Tapestry. He beat Reynaldothewizard in the 2014 Group 3 Mahab Al Shimaal (Tapeta) on Super Saturday but also boasts an excellent record on dirt.
Paul Hanagan remains loyal to Muarrab, despite his disappointing effort behind Reynaldothewizard last time, leaving Dane O’Neill to ride Kifaah. Both are owned by Sheikh Hamdan who retains both jockeys.
Drawn in one, the Doug Watson-trained My Catch is another to consider but, however he gets on, Watson and stable jockey Pat Dobbs will be hoping they have already tasted Classic glory. They combine with Polar River, winner of both her career starts to date, and who faces just four rivals in the UAE 1000 Guineas.
Having turned the 1400m trial into a procession, it will be a major surprise if she is beaten here. Watson said: “She is a really nice filly and we are excited about her chances. Hopefully she will be hard to beat and, luckily, it is the first race on the card so I do not have too long to worry about the race.”
The UAE 2000 Guineas, over the same 1600m dirt course and distance, is the penultimate race on the card and has attracted a field of seven. Godolphin duo Steady Pace and Rouleau fought out the trial with the former, trained by Saeed bin Suroor, just holding off the latter, in the care of Charlie Appleby.
It would be no surprise were they to dominate this with French challenger, Qurbaan, a potential fly in the ointment. Trained by Francois Rohaut, for Sheikh Hamdan, he has yet to taste defeat after two career outings but will be racing on dirt for the first time.
Hanagan rides and said: “He is a nice colt. His work on the dirt has been good but, until they race on it, you just never know. Hopefully he takes to it.”