A new chapter in one of international racing's most enduring thoroughbred rivalries will be written tomorrow when Presvis, Wigmore Hall and River Jetez clash in the Group 1 Jebel Hatta at Meydan Racecourse.
The three horses traded blows in races all over the world last year, with Wigmore Hall, trained by Michael Bell, striking first in this weekend's race 12 months ago.
Presvis, trained by Luca Cumani, finished around half a length behind but gained revenge when it mattered with a storming late run in the $5 million (Dh29m) Dubai Duty Free on World Cup night to leave Wigmore Hall back in third behind Mike de Kock's River Jetez.
River Jetez and Wigmore Hall then unsuccessfully contested the Champions Mile in Hong Kong in May and then all three met again in the International Cup in Singapore three weeks later.
River Jetez finished second, while Wigmore Hall was seventh, once again ahead of Presvis, who was 10th.
Unlike River Jetez, who generally races prominently, Wigmore Hall and Presvis prefer to weave through beaten horses on their way to victory which often means they are hostage to fortune.
"When Presvis and Wigmore Hall are on song they are two very high class horses," Bell said.
"They were at their best in the Duty Free last year. Presvis simply had a charmed run, and my boy didn't. It could have been a lot closer.
"There is not a lot between them when at their best, but as Luca would have it we got murdered in the Duty Free last year."
Bell plays down any banter over the winter between the two Newmarket-based trainers on the gallops, where Wigmore Hall, now a five year old, has filled out his frame.
After Singapore, Wigmore Hall was fourth in the Arlington Million in America before winning in Canada in the Northern Dancer Turf Stakes, his maiden Group 1 race.
He flopped badly in the Champion Stakes at Ascot in October due to his intense international schedule. After a month's holiday and a training programme targeted at Dubai the gelding has improved physically and mentally but could be short of his best as he is prepared for another crack at World Cup night.
"He has strengthened up significantly over the winter and is a bit heavier than last year, which could be a good thing," Bell said.
"He worked well on Wednesday under Jamie Spencer and didn't blow hard at all afterwards."
Bell will also run Margot Did in the Meydan Sprint on the Super Saturday card, where last season's Nunthorpe Stakes victor faces four other Group 1 winners.
Margot Did will be ridden by Hayley Turner, one of a select band of women jockeys who has scored at the highest level. If all goes according to plan Turner will partner Margot Did in the Al Quoz Sprint on March 31, and will vie with Chantal Sutherland to become the first female jockey to win on the richest night in world racing.
"Margot Did has travelled over well," Bell said.
"It looks a hot race but to win the Nunthorpe as a three year old was a cracking effort. She's a very high class sprinter and is in good nick but will come on for the run. Hayley will ride on tomorrow and on March 31 so it's just another target for her to break."
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