Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor is looking for a good run from Estihdaaf as he bids to win the UAE 2,000 Guineas for a record seventh time at Meydan on Thursday.
Estihdaaf shaped well on his second start in the space of a fortnight last month when staying-on well to get within half a length of the winner Manguzi.
As this contest is over a mile compared to nine and a half furlongs last time, Estihdaaf is set to race more prominently.
“Estihdaaf finished strongly in the Al Bastakiya Trial and looks to have improved for that run,” he told www.godolphin.com.
“I would like to see him race handy in the UAE 2000 Guineas.
“He is in good form at the moment, although this will be a tough contest for him.”
Simon Crisford, formerly Godolphin’s racing manager, is represented by Sporting Chance, who was third in the Meydan Classic Trial a week ago.
North America, impressive winner of round one of the Maktoum Challenge last month, faces just the five rivals in the second round in which Godolphin are without a runner.
Godolphin’s Dream Castle posted the second win of his unbeaten campaign at Meydan, having been gelded after failing to get closer than third in four attempts last year.
The five-year-old son of Frankel, a 7-4 favourite under Christophe Soumillon, put stablemates Leshlaa and Racing History in the shade – by three lengths and a nose respectively, with Charlie Appleby’s Blair House a place further back in the same colours.
Saeed Bin Suroor said: “The horse is going really well – I like the way he is finishing his races.
“He showed a good turn of foot, and was even more relaxed tonight (than last time) – so it’s looking good for the future.
“I’m also happy with the second and third. That is good form.”
Bin Suroor, Soumillon and Esthidaaf found one prove half a length too good for them in the Al Bastakiya Trial, won on the dirt by 5-1 shot Manguzi for UAE trainer Ali Rashid Al Rayhi.
Ex-Argentinian champion Saltarin Dubai led all the way in the EGA Jebel Ali Trophy to score for the second time in 12 attempts over this course, by one and a quarter lengths, for Satish Seemar.
Back on the turf, D’bai struck on his first start of the second successive year, providing Charlie Appleby and Godolphin with their fourth winner in the last five runnings of the Al Fahidi Fort.
After the five-year-old’s one-and-three-quarter-length win under James Doyle – from stablemate Mythical Magic, with two more Godolphin charges third and fifth – Appleby made no secret of the fact he sees it as ‘job done’ already for a gelding who thrives when fresh.
“His first run is generally his better run,” he said.
“We’ve dabbled with six furlongs, but seven is his ultimate trip – and those races are limited.
“So we didn’t want to use that first run up on one we didn’t need. We were confident coming in today that he was fit and ready.”
Appleby and Doyle wasted little time in following up, with Spotify hitting the right note in the following EGA Al Taweelah Trophy, which brought the card to a close.
Provided by Press Association Sport
One of the feature contests at Meydan on Thursday is the Group Two Al Rashidiya in which six of the nine runners are trained by either Saeed bin Suroor or Charlie Appleby.
Blair House, who was campaigned in Australia most recently, and Dream Castle, look the pick of the blue army, while David Simcock runs Arod.
Appleby told www.Godolphin.com: “Blair House put up a couple of decent performances out in Australia and has had a little break since.
“He is a course and distance winner and any reproduction of that form will obviously make him very competitive. He is fresh and well.”
Of Dream Castle, Bin Suroor added: “Dream Castle won well in the Singspiel Stakes and came out of the race in very good order.
“This is a step up to a Group Two race, but I have been pleased with his work and I am looking for another good run.”
The other Group Two on the card, the Al Fahidi Fort, sees Marinaresco, a star in South Africa, make his debut for Mike de Kock.
Chris Waller of Winx fame runs Comin’ Through, with George Scott’s Another Batt, David O’Meara’s Intisaab and the Appleby-trained D’Bai others to to note.