Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor is looking to Dream Castle to continue his excellent run of local results in Saturday’s Dubai Turf at Meydan.
The five-year-old arrives in the UAE for the 1800m turf feature on the back of three successive victories, including his wi in Super Saturday’s Group 1 Jebel Hatta on March 9.
The gelded son of Frankel showed a devastating turn of foot to make it a clean sweep at Meydan after victories on January 3 and 24.
But for all his class, the in-form Dream Castle will face the tough challenge of stablemate Wootton and four-time G1 winner Almond Eye, a horse who has not been beaten since August 2017.
Bin Suroor said: “Dream Castle has really thrived over nine furlongs this year and is unbeaten in three starts at Meydan, including a very good win in the Jebel Hatta on his latest appearance.
“He worked well on Saturday and is in good form at the moment.
“This is a very tough race, but Dream Castle has improved with each run this year and I think he is nearly at the same level as Benbatl, who won this race for us 12 months ago.
Wootton trainer Charlie Appleby said: “It looked as though Wootton enjoyed the step up to nine furlongs in the Jebel Hatta and he won’t look out of place in this line-up.
“He seems more relaxed in his races – he travels well and is doing everything the right way round.
“We all have Almond Eye to beat but, if Wootton puts up another solid run, it should give him a great chance of making the frame.”
VERDICT: Almond Eye
Dream Castle and Wootton are both lovely, confidence horses, but the impressive Almond Eye is unbeaten in his last seven races, stretching back to over 19 months ago. The four-year-old filly should win at ease.
Cross Counter spearheads a powerful Godolphin squad for the G2 Dubai Gold Cup on Saturday.
The four-year-old features among a four-strong Godolphin challenge for the 10-runner race over two miles on turf, with the son of Teofilo making his first start since cruising to a famous victory in the Melbourne Cup in November.
The Charlie Appleby-trained horse has looked solid in all eight of his starts, with five wins, including an impressive performance in the G3 Gordon Stakes at Goodwood in August.
He is joined by another improving four-year-old in Ispolini.
The son of Dubawi steps up to two miles following a couple of devastating wins at Meydan this season, most notably when beating another Godolphin contender Red Galileo by 10-and-a-half lengths in the G3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy in February.
Charlie Appleby said: “We are looking forward to getting Cross Counter’s campaign underway following his Melbourne Cup success.
“His preparation has gone well – he is a clean-winded horse, so he is quite easy to get fit for his first start of the year – and we are hoping that this can be a step for some of the major staying prizes throughout 2019.
“Ispolini is a progressive stayer and we have seen marked improvement since stepping him up in distance. He has the course experience and racing over two miles could see him progress again.”
Elsewhere, the Saeed bin Suroor-trained duo Team Talk and Red Galileo feature, although both horses are unlikely to pose the same threat as their progressive stablemates.
VERDICT: Cross Counter
The Melbourne Cup winner looks a class apart of his rivals and, after a four-month break, will be relishing the prospect of getting back to winning ways in one of the biggest races on the calendar.
Thunder Snow will attempt to become the first horse to win the Dubai World Cup for a second time when he faces a formidable challenge for top honours in the one of the world’s richest races at Meydan on Saturday.
The five-year-old Helmet horse provided his trainer Saeed bin Suroor with an eighth success in the 10-furlong dirt showpiece 12 months ago, when he powered clear to beat West Coast by five-and-three-quarter lengths.
Thunder Snow went on to perform admirably in two of North America’s leading G1 races on dirt over a mile-and-a-quarter, going down by a neck in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park in September before an excellent performance to finish third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs two months later.
The Godolphin star is seeking a third successive Dubai World Cup night victory following his G2 UAE Derby win on dirt two years ago.
Thunder Snow makes his second appearance of 2019 after coming home second to Capezzano in the G1 Al Maktoum Challenge on Super Saturday three weeks ago.
Christophe Soumillon, who has partnered Thunder Snow in 16 races, including for the three G1 wins, takes the ride again in the $12 million feature.
Thunder Snow faces 12 rivals including Capezzano and North America, winner of the 2018 G1 Al Maktoum Challenge Round Three, and Breeders’ Cup Classic second Gunnevera, plus US G1 winners Seeking The Soul and Yoshida.
Saeed bin Suroor said: “Thunder Snow came out of his first run of the year well and has improved for the outing.
“It was always the plan to use Round Three of the Maktoum Challenge as a stepping stone for the Dubai World Cup. He needed the race after a busy 2018 campaign and I have been happy with him since.
“His latest piece of work on Saturday went well and he looks to be in good form ahead of the big race.
“Thunder Snow has won at each of the last two Dubai World Cup nights and I am hoping for another big performance in 2019.”