DUBAI // Twice Over, the Dubai World Cup favourite, will jump from an unfavourably wide gate tomorrow, but connections say they are not worried because the two-time Champion Stakes victor won his prep race from the same starting position.
If he is to win on Saturday, Twice Over will have to do it going the long way round Meydan Racecourse's two bends after being assigned to stall 12 in the draw last night.
"It must be a good omen," said Teddy Grimthorpe, the racing manager for Saudi owner Khalid Abdullah, noting that Twice Over won the Al Maktoum Challenge Round Three prep race from exactly that position.
Twice Over started from stall 11 last year when he finished 10th, but just three-and-three-quarter lengths off the winner, Gloria de Campeao.
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"We have done it a little differently this time and come out earlier, as we noticed that the horses that ran well in the World Cup last year all spent some time here," Grimthorpe said.
Aidan O'Brien's Cape Blanco, the second favourite, was drawn in stall four. The horse's new Dubai-based part-owner, Fitri Hay, said she was pleased with the position. Cape Blanco is the Irish trainer O'Brien's first World Cup runner.
Buena Vista, the Japanese entry, was drawn in stall 13 but her trainer, Hiroyoshi Matsuda, said he was not worried by the wide position.
"The draw will not affect Buena Vista, who usually comes from behind the pace," Matsuda said.
"It was the fate for a Japanese horse to be drawn out wide."
Earlier this week compatriot Katsuhiko Sumii, the trainer of the World Cup runner, Victoire Pisa, suggested that the Japanese horses would be racing as a team in light of the devastating tsunami that ravaged the country. Yet although he expressed his sympathies for his countrymen, Matsuda was concentrating solely on victory.
"I never think that," Matsuda said. "I always think positively, and I truly feel that she is the best horse in the field. She has a real talent, and so do I. We are the team."
The three Godolphin horses, Prince Bishop, Poet's Voice and Monterosso, were drawn in stalls three, 10 and two, respectively.
Saeed bin Suroor, trainer of Poet's Voice, said that the draw would not be a big issue for his charge, who is a hold-up horse who likes to come from off the pace.
"He shows plenty of pace and I really do not think the draw will be a problem for him," the handler said.
Mike de Kock's two runners, Musir and Golden Sword, start from gates seven and 14, respectively.
Wigmore Hall, a joint favourite with Presvis in the Dubai Duty Free, was drawn in gate five.
His trainer, Michael Bell said he was pleased.
"I'm pretty happy with that," Bell said. Wigmore Hall won his prep race coming into World Cup day, and "he's a horse that has to come off the pace and I can't complain about the draw.
"He won his prep race well and that was great because we think we can get some improvement out of him. The same can probably said for most of the other runners in the race so we will have to see what happens on the day."
Presvis was drawn in stall six, but as a notorious back-runner who likes to jump very slowly out of the gate before turning on the speed in the home stretch, the position in which he starts will make no difference to Luca Cumani's quirky horse.
In the Dubai Sheema Classic, the Saudi Arabian horse Deem was drawn in two while Champ Pegasus, trained by the US handler, Richard Mandella, got seven.
Mandella, who won the Dubai World Cup in 2004 with Pleasantly Perfect, was satisfied with the starting stall of his 2011 Sheema Classic contender.
"We got lucky in the big race once," he said.
"I'm happy with the gate. He's a horse that was a maiden a year ago, and he's come a long way to get this far."
De Kock's Durban July runner-up, Irish Flame, was drawn in gate six. He will wear blinkers for the first time on Saturday, and that fact, coupled with his favourable draw, may prove the ticket to the horse.