Racing’s richest day, the 22nd running of the Dubai World Cup, takes place on Saturday.
Here’s five horses to watch out for at Meydan, as picked by Dubai Racing TV presenter Laura King.
He’s officially the best horse in the world and he could become the richest ever if adding the $6million Dubai World Cup first prize to his haul of $12million that he collected when winning the Pegasus World Cup in January. Trained by dual Dubai World Cup-winning handler Bob Baffert, the four-year-old grey seems to have settled right in at Meydan since arriving last week. He should be far too good for the opposition in the big race.
Something of a legend in European racing circles, Highland Reel has won four Group I races on three different continents. He was only fourth in the Dubai Sheema Classic 12 months ago, but could be a better horse now. He heads a nine-strong contingent trained by Aidan O’Brien, who will fly his horses to Dubai later than everyone else, giving them just two days to acclimatise before racing on Saturday.
“Fawree is nuts” read the memorable quote from trainer Mike De Kock before the three-year-old won his first race at Meydan in January. Since then, his issues with the starting stalls manifested themselves when he broke through the front and ran loose on his intended prep run on ‘Super Saturday.’ A ‘Horse Whisperer,’ Malan Du Toit, was flown in from South Africa to work with him, seemingly with good results. We’ll find out on Saturday just how good, when he lines up in the UAE Derby.
Taking on Fawree is Thunder Snow, who may well be Godolphin’s best chance of a winner on the night. Trained by Saeed bin Suroor, he was an impressive victor of the Group 3 UAE 2000 Guineas on his most recent start, his first in Dubai. The opposition will be stronger in the UAE Derby, but he has plenty of class and can provide HH Sheikh Mohammed with another win.
From a top stallion, Dubawi, and out of an unbeaten racemare, Zarkava, Zarak is bred to be a star and he looked just that when cantering home in the Group 3 Dubai Millennium Stakes last time out. He didn’t beat many top-notchers on that occasion, but he looked the real deal and might be hard to beat in a very strong edition of the Group 1 Dubai Turf, race seven on the card.
Ahead of the Dubai World Cup on Saturday, Saeed bin Suroor shares his predictions on the Godolphin horses to watch out for.
Are you going up to Meydan this weekend?
Godolphin jockey William Buick has gone for potential over experience in choosing Trekking as his mount in Saturday G1 Golden Slipper Stakes at Rosehill.
Buick had the choice of trainer John O’Shea’s two runners in the rich juvenile feature, but went for Trekking despite the colt’s outside barrier braw, leaving the mount on stablemate Veranillo to local rider Brenton Avdulla.
Buick, who arrived in Sydney last week to cover for the injured James Doyle, rode both colts on the training track on Tuesday morning, declaring each of them to have good prospects.
The 28-year-old said he had also studied video of each colt’s races in a crash-course on Australian two-year-old form.
William Buick has ridden in one Golden Slipper and told @SkySportsRadio1 today he feels you need a horse that can quicken off race pressure.— Andrew Bensley (@AndrewBensley) March 14, 2017
In the end, it was Trekking’s last start second when first-up in the G3 Black Opal Stakes in Canberra that swayed him.
“It was very hard to pick between them, I just thought that if he’d had a bit more luck in Canberra last time he could have won,” Buick said.
“He looks like a colt who is gearing himself up for a big one. He hasn’t been in the same company as Veranillo, but he feels like a class colt, I think he’s a horse with untapped potential.”
Trekking will start from the outside gate in the 16-horse field with Veranillo drawing 11.
John O’Shea, who trains both colts, has introduced blinkers to the raceday kit of the four-start veteran Veranillo in a bid to help him find the extra needed to get into the finish of the A$3.5m race.
“Blinkers go on for the first time and they seemed to have the right effect on him this morning in his work at Osborne Park,” O’Shea said.
“He’s drawn a nice gate for his style of racing. There’s a lot of speed inside and there’s a lot of speed outside.
“I think he’s going to be in a nice cruising position about five lengths off the speed and hopefully he can get to the right part of the track.”
UK jockey William Buick elects to ride Trekking despite the barrier draw. The star hoop says Trekking is "a very nice colt" @HorseBettingAU— Todd Davey (@ToddJDavey) March 14, 2017
Like Buick, he was impressed with Trekking’s run in the Black Opal when the colt finished off strongly behind the winner Trapeze Artist at his first run since winning on debut in December.
“I thought his run was outstanding in the Black Opal, he’s a colt with a lot of quality and a lot of class,” he said.
With the likelihood of a rain-affected track at Rosehill on Saturday, the outside gate may prove a blessing for Trekking in a race that has an abundance of early speed.
The fillies Houtzen and She Will Reign are rated the leading contenders and both have wide barriers and natural brilliance, which suggests they will go forward.
Also among the top prospects is the G1 Blue Diamond Stakes winner Catchy who has barrier eight and the Pierro filly Tulip who has 10.