DUBAI // Presvis, Luca Cumani's Dubai Duty Free champion, begins his 2012 Dubai World Cup campaign on Thursday in the featured Group 2 Al Rashidiya.
The brilliant yet quirky gelding, a popular horse among the Meydan Racecourse crowd, is to renew his lucrative partnership with the British jockey Ryan Moore in the 1,800m turf contest.
The British-trained runner, who will be defending his Duty Free title on World Cup day this year, takes on South Africa's best in the form of Mike de Kock's Musir, who is also charting a course to the Group 1 US$5 million (Dh18.3m) turf race on March 31.
If he is in the mood then Presvis, the ultimate hold-up horse, is capable of out-sprinting the most fleet-footed of opponents as he makes his last-to-first dash for the winning post.
However, if he is in a contrary frame of mind, it can be exceedingly difficult to even get the son of Sakhee down to the start.
Nevertheless, the eight year old has now won $4.3m in prize money and could add a further $120,000 to that total should he emerge victorious from the fray this evening.
Moore, a three-time British champion jockey, who completed the Epsom Oaks-Derby double in 2010 on Snow Fairy and Workforce and won 10 Group or Grade 1 races last season, said Presvis was going well in the mornings.
"I've only sat on him but he seems to be very well and is going fine," said the son of prominent English jumps trainer, Gary Moore.
The younger Moore has enjoyed a uniquely successful partnership with Presvis, riding the horse to every one of his eight career wins bar one.
Accomplished jockeys including the highly-regarded Kieren Fallon and Richard Hughes have partnered the horse in the past, but never quite clicked with the tricky customer.
The affinity between Moore and Presvis has prompted Cumani, the Newmarket-based trainer who engages the services of the Irish rider Fallon for his other Dubai runners, to essentially abandon pre-race instructions.
"Presvis and Ryan Moore always do what they decide to do," Cumani said.
"We let them get on with it because they get on so well with each other. The plan is for Ryan to ride him as long as he is available."
No doubt Moore will have his hands full with Presvis, who is going for the double after winning the Al Rashidiya last year, but the jockey did spare some consideration for his opponents.
"You can generally tell what sort of mood Presvis is going to be in when you sit on him in the parade ring," said Moore.
The jockey was forced to dismount in order to encourage the gelding to go to the post before his last ride on the horse in Hong Kong.
"Of course I have to worry about Presvis first but you do have to respect Musir and Rajsaman," he said. "They are both good horses and on their best form will be very competitive."
Musir is de Kock's 2010 UAE Derby hero, who was the three-length winner of the Group 3 Al Maktoum Challenge Round I at Meydan on January 12.
Rajsaman, the classy French runner, claimed the Group 2 Prix Daniel Wildenstein by a neck from Godolphin's Rio de la Plata last October when trained by Freddie Head.
He is now with the Emirati handler Ali Rashid al Raihe's champion Grandstand Stable.
Also opposing Presvis is City Style, the Mahmood al Zarooni-trained and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed-owned runner who was the winner of his last two outings over the mile at Meydan.
"City Style won very well on his latest start and I think he has improved a little bit since then," Al Zarooni, the Godolphin handler, said.
"We decided to give him a chance back on turf. He won twice on turf at Nad Al Sheba, which gave us a little bit of confidence to try him on the surface again.
"Mickael Barzalona gets on very well with the horse who I hope can run another good race."
Another French runner, Sandagiyr, makes his Dubai debut for Godolphin's other trainer, Saeed bin Suroor.
He has form behind Rajsaman and Rio de la Plata and his trainer is expecting him to come on for this outing.
"Sandagiyr is doing well and has been working nicely," said bin Suroor, the most successful Carnival trainer of all time. "He's ready to race but it looks like a tough race for him.
"He ran some good races in France last year and nine furlongs [1,800m] will be no problem for him but I expect him to improve for his first start of the year."