DUBAI // By far the lion's share of the racing world's attention will be focused on the US$6million (Dh22m) Dubai World Cup this weekend and justifiably so, but the turf races on the card offer unrivalled strength in depth. In fact, Dubai Racing Club's International Manager, Martin Talty, has thrown down the gauntlet by claiming the Group One US$5million Dubai Duty Free will be the strongest-run turf race of 2009.
On a night at Nad Al Sheba worth US$21.25million the two races on the turf offer a combined purse of US$10million - a figure rivalling any top-tier races. "By the end of the year, I have no hesitation in saying, the Dubai Duty Free will be the strongest run turf race in the world," said Talty. "We have 16 runners with an average rating of 119 and the Sheema Classic is not far behind. I don't think there will be a racing club anywhere in the world that will run better races on turf."
Prize money, of course, has a lot to do with the high-calibre entries, but, with many of the runners graduating to World Cup night from the Dubai International Racing Carnival the standard of Carnival talent is improving. "Last year we had four runners emerge from the Carnival to win on World Cup night and this year there's every chance that every winner in the World Cup could have raced in the Carnival," said Talty.
UAE-based trainer Mike de Kock, who now saddles 10 runners on the big night after World Cup contender Honour Devil was forced to pull out with throat problems, agrees. "There's no doubt the turf races are the classy fields," he said. "There's got to be 10 Group One winners in the Dubai Duty Free alone and there are a lot of horses in there that impressed in the Carnival." The turf performance of the year could well be produced in Dubai on Saturday night and de Kock, wants one his charges, either Group One winner Archipenko or the less tested Bankable to pull it off.
"My two are going great," he said. "Bankable, hasn't been exposed at international Group One level but he's run with a lot of horses that have. "Archipenko is very exposed and right up there with the best. I've been impressed with Gladiatorus at the Carnival; it's been a long time since I've seen a horse go that fast in front and stay there. "Jay Peg won it last time and Paco Boy has a big reputation, although I don't know if he gets the trip. I've been impressed with Presvis in the Carnival; he won very, very well and the Australian filly, Tuesday Joy, came good last win but travelling won't be in her favour. Vodka had a good run last time and is very talented."