David Marnane is battling to get Nocturnal Affair fit enough to fly to the UAE to contest races at the Dubai World Cup Carnival, which starts at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday.
The Irish trainer had hoped to include the seven-year-old sprinter in his team which travelled in the first of two international shipments that arrived at Meydan yesterday.
Nocturnal Affair tweaked a muscle during his final workout before he was set to join stablemates Dandy Boy, Red Dubawi and More Than Sotka and missed yesterday's flight.
Nocturnal Affair raced five times at the Dubai racecourse last season, winning the Al Naboodah Contruction Group handicap in February and was sixth in the Al Quoz sprint behind Ortensia on World Cup night.
"I very much hope we can get him to Dubai," Marnane told The National from his Irish base.
"He was sound yesterday and there are later flights for him but if he doesn't make it there are plenty of races here for him and he'll be good for the European summer."
Marnane's team was joined by a large contingent of horses hailing from Ireland which arrived yesterday morning.
The later flight, which arrived last night, carried horses primarily from the UK and France as well as the horses from Peter Schiergen's stables in Cologne.
Scheirgen's horses will be the first from Cologne to compete outside Europe following the outbreak of equine infectious anaemia that cancelled Danedream's repeat bid in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in October.
The first shipment contained 26 horses, while the second had 34. The two shipments added to the arrival on Saturday of Elderly Paradise, from the yard of Allen Tam, the only trainer from Macau set to compete at this year's Carnival.
The horses were transported through Janah, the international equine transport company.
The arrivals will have their health assessed over the next 48 hours in quarantine, where they will have access to walking and trotting facilities in Meydan's plush international barn.
Their blood will be tested en masse today and if passed clear the early flight horses will have access to Meydan's track facilities either by tomorrow afternoon or Wednesday morning at the latest.
According to Jim Cornes, the Dubai Racing Club's International Stables coordinator, the transition was virtually seamless.
"It was a smooth process and the Janah grooms have reported back that the horses all loaded and travelled well," he said. "We all know that Europe is having a harsh and wet winter but the German horses were all carrying a hairy coat and will be clipped."
For many horses the flight to Dubai will be a new experience and it will take time for them to acclimatise.
For Dandy Boy, however, who broke the track record at Meydan only days after stepping off the plane in 2011, it was like returning to his holiday home.
"They know where they are - it's a homecoming for some of them," Cornes said.
"You can see they were thinking, 'I'm back here again'. Some horses have funny habits and take some time getting used to it all, but not him."
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