The Goldolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor hopes that his team for the second round of the Al Maktoum Challenge on Thursday night will have benefited from a layoff and can make a big impression at the Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan Racecourse.
Bin Suroor will be a busy man at around 9.15pm.
Among the 11 horses he intends to run across the six thoroughbred races, he saddles four in the US$250,000 (Dh918,000) feature with worldwide attention trained on Alpha, the Travers Stakes winner.
Alpha has joined the UAE branch of Godolphin from Kiaran McLaughlin's American operation.
Alpha has not run since finishing last in the Breeders' Cup Classic in November.
It was a run that backed up a sixth-placed finish in a field of only seven in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby in September.
Since then Alpha has been freshened up and having arriving in Dubai a few months ago Bin Suroor has been building up the son of Bernardini, the 2006 Preakness Stakes winner.
"Sometimes this happens," the trainer said of Alpha's last effort.
"Sometimes they are not at their best and if you give them time and then take them back to racing it helps.
"We need to forget what happened in America and move on."
Alpha may be a proven Grade 1 winner and alongside Hunter's Light they are the only two in the field of 12 that have won at the highest level.
His capacity to perform on Tapeta in a competitive environment on the other hand is unknown although Bin Suroor reports that he goes well on the surface at Al Quoz, even if he is a little unenthusiastic in the mornings.
"We need to see if he handles it in a real race and we need to see something from him on Thursday," Bin Suroor said.
"He needs the race though and he will certainly improve."
Despite the credentials of Alpha and Hunter's Light in the Grade 2 event, such are the embarrassment of riches at Godolphin that neither are considered the first string.
Alpha will be ridden by William Buick, who will have his first ride of the UAE season aboard Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa's Stasio in the third race on the card.
The Norwegian rider will be sporting the red cap, while Ryan Moore will wear the black cap on Prince Bishop.
Silvestre De Sousa will have the white cap on Hunter's Light while Mahmoud Al Zarooni's Saint Baudolino carries the hopes of the Marmoom operation with Mickael Barzalona on board in the royal blue.
Mendip is set to be ridden by Keiren Fallon in the silks of Shiekh Hamdan bin Mohammed and defends his title having not run since finishing 11th of 13 behind Monterosso in last season's Dubai World Cup.
Mendip's success 12 months ago handed Bin Suroor his eighth victory in the 1,900m contest.
Only Moon Ballad in 2003 progressed enough to use the Al Maktoum Challenge as a springboard to World Cup glory and even though Mendip may have had legitimate excuses in the world's most valuable race tonight looks to be the main event for the six year old.
"He won the race last year but I don't think he was really good enough to win the World Cup," Bin Suroor added. "He came back in the winter and he is now ready to go.
"He is another one that needed time. You need to give horses like him a rest."
GODOLPHIN USE UAE 1000 GUINEAS AS A TRIAL RUN
Godolphin have long used the UAE 1000 Guineas as a nursery for the English equivalent and the Dubai-based operation saddles four of the 10 runners in the Listed event at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday night.
Muwakleh was the winner of the inaugural 1000 Guineas in 2001 and went on to finish second to Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid's Ameerat at Newmarket.
Gamilati was all set to try to augment her success in the UAE Classic 12 months ago but never made it to Newmarket after suffering a chipped ankle in March.
Saeed bin Suroor saddles Mar Mar and Shuruq, while Mahmoud Al Zarooni sends out Lovely Pass and Music Chart in an attempt to land Godolphin their ninth success in the 1,600m contest.
Music Chart overhauled Shuruq in the closing stages of the seven-furlong UAE Guineas Trial three weeks ago. Music Chart was held up by Mickael Barzalona in a fast-paced race and the pair led only inside the final furlong. Despite the narrow margin of defeat Bin Suroor was hardly confident of reversing the form.
"Shuruq ran well last time and is improving but she got beaten by a better filly," Bin Suroor said. "We'll give her a chance again, she tries all the time and the mile would be better for her."
Music Chart is set to carry the royal blue cap of the first string under Barzalona but Lovely Pass slammed her stablemate by four lengths when the pair met at Ascot in England in September.
Lovely Pass will be ridden by Ahmed Ajtebi and although Al Zarooni has left a lot of work off the daughter of Raven's Pass, the 2008 Breeders' Cup Classic winner, he estimated Ajtebi could well come out on top.
"Lovely Pass showed a good level of form in Britain last season and she is fit and well," the master of Marmoom said.
"She will come on for the appearance but she should run her race."
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