Given that horses trained in America have won the Dubai World Cup on nine occasions and Godolphin have owned the winner of the world’s richest horse race six times, Frosted could be the one to side with this year.
Trained in the States by Kiaran McLaughlin, Godolphin’s Frosted has been based at Charlie Appleby’s Al Marmoon Stables since arriving in January.
The original plan was two runs and then the World Cup. However, he was so impressive in winning the Al Maktoum Challenge Round II on February 4, breaking the track record in the process, McLaughlin had a change of heart.
McLaughlin said: “We thought he would actually need that first run so to do what he did was amazing. We then decided to just put him away for the big race.”
McLaughlin, a former multiple UAE Champion Trainer, won the 2007 Dubai World Cup with Invasor so certainly knows what it takes to win the race.
“It’s hard to describe the fabulous, priceless feeling of winning the Dubai World Cup with an American-based horse for Sheikh Hamdan at the family’s home,” McLaughlin said. “They are so passionate about the racing industry and their horses. I’d put winning the Dubai World Cup right up there with the Kentucky Derby someday. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
However, he may not be the strongest of this year’s American challengers with bookmakers certainly favouring California Chrome.
Second in the race last year, on his UAE debut, trainer Art Sherman has changed tact this time around and California Chrome has already won a 2000m handicap at Meydan this year. That was in late February and the equivalent race to that won by Curlin in 2008 before he won the World Cup.
Chrome galloped on the main track at Meydan and Art Sherman admitted he was visibly more
relaxed than previous outings.
Sherman said: “He was stirred up a little bit yesterday (Thursday).
“Maybe because there were a lot of people around him. I tried to keep everyone away a little bit today. Tomorrow we will jog him at the little training track right near our barn. We go about 15 minutes just warm him up. He likes to train every day, it keeps him relaxed.”
The rest of the American challenge looks particularly strong this year and also includes Mshawish, a Meydan turf winner in 204. He has since ‘reinvented’ himself as a dirt performer, most recently winning the Grade 1 Donn Handicap.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, he will be ridden by Frankie Dettori, already a Dubai World Cup winner on three occasions – Dubai Millennium in 2000, Moon Ballad is 2003 and, most recently, on Electrocutionist in 2006. All three being Godolphin horses.
Also representing The Stars and Stripes is Keen Ice, the only horse to defeat last year’s Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in 2015.
That was in the Grade 1 Travers Stakes which was, remarkably, only his second career success.
His UAE debut was uninspiring, to say the least, with a well beaten seventh in Al Maktoum Challenge III on Super Saturday. He has to do better than that but does look in need of a relentless early gallop to aim at which is not guaranteed.
That Super Saturday race was won by Special Fighter who, basically, made all under Fernando Jara for trainer Musabah Al Muhairi.
Clearly the apple of his trainer’s eye, he remains a hard horse to predict as everything went right for him in that race.
Al Muhairi said: “He does not have to lead so is quite versatile, tactically. We have always thought he was a Group One horse and he showed that on Super Saturday.
“It is really exciting to have a genuine World Cup candidate.”
Last year’s UAE Derby winner, the Mike de Kock-trained Mubtaahij, has not fired in either start this year but is another who should not be totally discounted.
However, the American-trained runners would appear to hold all aces in the 2016 Dubai World Cup.
The milliners are manic and the tailors tied up as the Dubai World Cup returns to the iconic Meydan racecourse this Saturday.
Last year Prince Bishop, owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum and ridden by William Buick and, took the spoils on home turf for the Godolphin stable.
One of the biggest days on the UAE’s sporting calendar, the Dubai World Cup can be a slightly overwhelming experience for first-timers so Sport360 have enlisted the help of Dubai Eye 103.8 presenter Chris McHardy to offer five top tips for surviving at Meydan.
With 80,000 plus race goers flocking to Meydan you can imagine the logistical nightmare facing organisers come 10pm. Booking a Careem or Uber taxi to pick you up at a set location and time will not only save you the headache of queuing for hours but also ensure your are home at a reasonable hour. It is a school night after all.
Alternatively, if you’re down with the cool kids and plan on partying the night away with Janet Jackson at the post-racing concert then again make travel arrangements in advance. Your dancing feet will thank me later.
While Dubai World Cup night is as much about the vibrant social scene as it is the world-class racing, it’s well worth keeping the official racing handbook close to hand.
Not only will it win you brownie points among the true horse racing aficionados, but will also ensure you’re not left with that nagging feeling that you’re missing out come the start bell.
There is also no greater thrill than selecting a winner on the night, especially if that means getting one over friends or those who claim to be ‘in the know’.
This is a once-a-year chance to lose your inhibitions and go all out in the style stakes. The weirder and wackier the better. Two-time reigning Best Dressed Male, Marlon Weir, is the very epitome of that.
Those who put in the most effort and originality into their World Cup outfits will be rewarded handsomely. A Jaguar F-Type coupe for a weekend, a Longines watch and cash prices are all up for grabs in the Jaguar Style Stakes.
It pays to look cool on World Cup night.
Get there early. And no, that’s not just to avoid the heavy traffic on the journey in but, more importantly, it gives you a chance to sample the awe-inspiring Meydan Racecourse in all of its glory.
The mile-long grandstand, which opened in 2010, is the biggest anywhere in the world. It’s a thing of beauty although capturing all of it in a photo is nigh on impossible. The challenge has been set.
Getting there before the masses gives you the rare opportunity to embrace the calm before the storm, and of course scout for the perfect vantage point.
Gates open at noon with the first race, the Group 1 Dubai Kahayla Classic, scheduled for 3:45pm GST.
I’m a firm believer in living in the moment, but such is the glitz, glamour, pomp and ceremony of the night you’d be foolish not to pocket a camera or fully-charged smartphone.
Whether it’s the horses battling for supremacy on the track or the fashionistas seeking your attention off it, the World Cup is an all-out attack on the senses. Making sure you document every bit of it is simply a must. If anything, it will help give your Instagram following a boost.
Chris McHardy is a Sports Presenter for Dubai Eye 103.8. He’ll be part of the team covering the Dubai World Cup live from Meydan Racecourse on Saturday. Their coverage gets underway from 4pm GST.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Purebred Arabian Handassa, trained by Francois Rohaut in Pau in the South West of France, is the horse everyone has to beat in this year’s edition of the Dubai Kahayla Classic, empowered by IPIC.
That is the word on the street and is a scenario his work rider Doric Binot, who has come over to Dubai with him from France, imagines every day when he goes out for a canter on the Meydan track.
“You always like to believe in the horse that you look after,” he explains. “But he is in great form and obviously won his race here in the beginning of the month. So we know he definitely likes the dirt.”
Originally apprenticed to Carlos Laffon-Parias in Chantilly, Binot used to ride as a Flat jockey before weight issues caught up with him and he switched to jump racing.
However, a heavy fall put an end to that career and it has now been nearly two years that he has worked for Francois Rohaut.
“We only have about 10 Purebred Arabians in our yard,” he continues. “The others are Thoroughbreds. In fact, last year, I came to Dubai with the filly Farmah, who is also owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.”
Sheikh Hamdan actually visited the quarantine stable on Monday and Binot was impressed: “It was quite amazing to meet him. He is really interested in the horse and it was just great to see him here.”
The owner-breeder has always had a great affinity with Purebred Arabian horses and nothing would please him more than a victory of six-year-old Handassa, whose sire Madjani lifted the event three consecutive times from 2005 to 2007.
By nature, they are not known to be easy rides and Binot confirms: “To ride a Purebred Arabian, you have to indulge them. They are much more sensitive and you constantly have to nurture them.
“It’s about finding the right balance of keeping them fresh, whilst coaxing them into doing a bit of serious work. You need to amuse them, keep them interested. I know this sounds strange, but in the morning you have to let them believe that they dominate.”
With Handassa, though, there is no great worry that he has to be coaxed and his work rider smiles when he says: “Handassa is one of the easier ones to ride, which by the way, is the reason that he is so exceptional.”