Godolphin, victorious in three of just five races they were involved in on Thursday, return to Meydan for the second part of a Carnival double header today and will be hoping Confrontation can repeat his victory of last year in the Group 3 Firebreak Stakes.
One of the newer feature races at the Carnival, having been inaugurated in 2009, Godolphin have actually won the 1600m dirt feature five times, including twice with Skysurfers who landed consecutive renewals in 2010 and 2011.
He was trained by Saeed bin Suroor, as Confrontation now is having landed this race 12 months ago when saddled by Kiaran McLaughlin.
He only had one run subsequently when, perhaps surprisingly, dropping back in trip and contesting the 1200m Group 1 Golden Shaheen on Dubai World Cup night.
Sixth there, he has now joined Bin Suroor at Al Quoz Stables and his new trainer said: “Obviously these conditions suit him as he won the race last year. We are pleased with him at home but do expect him to improve markedly for the race.”
Satish Seemar saddles two of the eight runners with stable jockey, Richard Mullen, choosing to partner North America, unbeaten locally after three UAE starts, over Surfer, winner of the Group 2Al Maktoum Challenge R1, over this course and distance, in 2015 but not seen on the track for just over 40 days.
Assistant trainer, Bhupat Seemar, said: “North America has been a revelation this season and just keeps improving so deserves this step up in class. He is exciting. Surfer has been off a fair while after a few problems but is in good form at home and should run well.”
There are not many Carnival feature races South African, Mike de Kock, has not won but this is among the list. He relies on Lindo Amor and said: “He ran very well in the first round of the Maktoum Challenge but less so in the second round last week. He has the perfect draw in one and we are hoping he will be thereabouts.”
The Doug Watson-trained Desert Force, on the other hand, is drawn widest of all in eight. His trainer said: “The draw is not ideal but the 1600m should suit him as he found 1200m too sharp last time. He should run well in a tough race.”
De Kock and Bin Suroor have both won the Group 3 UAE 2000 Guineas, also over 1600m on dirt, five times but only the latter is represented this year. He saddles two for Godolphin, Best Solution and Thunder Snow, a Group One winner in France when last seen in October.
Christophe Soumillon, strongly associated with the De Kock team, was aboard then and is again on a proven class performer who escapes a penalty, while Adrie de Vries, who enjoyed a treble on Thursday, partners Best Solution
Bin Suroor said: “We have been very pleased with Thunder Snow since he arrived in Dubai and he worked very well on Monday. Hopefully he will handle the surface. The 1400m trial was too sharp for Best Solution and this extra 200m will certainly suit him.”
That trial was won by Fly At Dawn, also owned by Godolphin but trained by Charlie Appleby and chased home by the Doug Watson-trained Cosmo Charlie. Both are back in action and have at least proved themselves on the surface.
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