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Fulbright, front, shown here with jockey Silvestre De Sousa aboard, will race tonight in the Group 2 Maktoum Challenge at the Meydan Racecourse.
Fulbright, front, shown here with jockey Silvestre De Sousa aboard, will race tonight in the Group 2 Maktoum Challenge at the Meydan Racecourse.

Mahmoud Al Zarooni pushing Fulbright for Carnival success

The trainer hopes that Fulbright's effort at Maydan tonight will be the launch pad to propel the four year old to honours at the Dubai World Cup in March.

Mahmoud Al Zarooni hopes that Fulbright's effort in tonight's Group 2 Maktoum Challenge at Meydan Racecourse can be the launch pad that propels the four year old to honours on Dubai World Cup night in March.

Fulbright has graduated to Godolphin from Mark Johnston's nursery in England and spearheads Al Zarooni's team of three at the Dubai track, taking his chance against nine rivals in Round 1 of the US$250,000 (Dh918,200) feature on the seven-race card.

Fulbright won six races from 12 starts in 2012 in England and his season culminated in a Group 2 success when he scored in the Dubai Challenge Stakes at Newmarket in October.

Fulbright was subsequently transferred to Al Zarooni, who also runs Arthur's Tale in the 1,900m handicap and Firebeam in the concluding handicap, and the trainer is feeling his way with the son of Exceed And Excel ahead of tonight's assignment over 1,600m.

"He had to acclimatise to the weather and we were very easy on him for the first month," Al Zarooni told The National from Marmoom Stables in Dubai yesterday.

"He has taken his training very well and worked last week. I wouldn't say he was impressive but worked well enough.

"I don't plan to run him too often during the Carnival, perhaps no more than two to three times. Of course if he doesn't win on his first run, or doesn't take to the surface we will have to rethink it."

Al Zarooni believes that Fulbright will prove most effective over 1,600m, and therefore the Godolphin Mile on World Cup night would be the most obvious target.

It is a race from which Barbecue Eddie was scratched in March, and the two horses could well clash in the contest this year depending on what happens in tonight's contest.

"He has proved he stays 1,600m well," Doug Watson said of his charge, who is drawn in stall three under Dane O'Neill.

"This is obviously a lot tougher but we have a good draw and I am looking forward to running him in this class."

Fulbright, who will be ridden by Mickael Barzalona, follows along the Johnston production line that yielded the remarkable one-two by Monterosso and Capponi in the $10m Dubai World Cup in March.

Capponi has not been seen on a racecourse since, although Al Zarooni is happy with the training regime of the son of Medicean, the 2001 Eclipse Stakes winner.

Unlike last season when Capponi ran five times at Meydan, Al Zarooni is keen to restrict the six year old to only a handful of starts, beginning with a run in Round 2 of the Maktoum Challenge next month.

There he could help set the pace for his stablemate, who has had an easy time off it since disappointing behind Nathaniel in the Eclipse at Sandown in England in July.

"I didn't understand that run," Al Zarooni said. "I was running him to win. After that, I just thought the World Cup was more important.

"He likes Dubai, and he has always run well here so why risk that?

"We have left him in the paddock for a few hours a day. He goes to the swimming pool just to take the freshness out, because when they are fresh they can injure themselves.

"He will start off in Round 3 of the Maktoum Challenge on Super Saturday in March."


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