The Dubai Racing Club's senior handicapper has admitted that accurately assessing the ability of Indian challenger In The Spotlight has been a tricky process.
Indian racing fans have had very little to shout about during past editions of the Dubai World Cup Carnival but the subcontinent's star mare may change all that as she is set to make her bow under Ryan Moore at Meydan Racecourse tonight.
As the dust settles on the two Classic trials at the region's flagship racecourse the five-year-old chestnut will line up alongside 15 others in the Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprises Handicap over 2,410 metres, which brings to a close the six-race card.
In The Spotlight has accumulated 11 victories in 15 runs in India and with six Classics helping her to amass prize-money in excess of Dh3.3 million, the aspirations of connections and trainer Sadakshara Padmanabhan are high.
Although In The Spotlight has registered a glut of Group 1 victories, according to Melvin Day those wins cut little ice in the hurly burly of the international arena.
"Her Group 1s do not count as international Group 1s as they are not recognised in the UAE or internationally," Day told The National. "I would estimate they are more around Listed status."
An international Group 1 horse should run off a rating of 115 or more.
Day, who played a crucial role in the integration of South American racehorses in the recent shake-up of the World Thoroughbred Rankings, revealed that In The Spotlight travelled to Dubai with an Indian rating of 130.
"Indian horses are rated domestically around 25-30lbs higher than they would be in the UAE," Day added. "I have knocked 28 lbs off her rating so she will run off 102."
Day has had very little to go on and admits it can be a process of trial and error. When Mystical came from India to race in Dubai in 2007 he was accompanied by an Indian rating of 139, but Day allotted the raider a rating of 100.
Ridden by Moore, the horse was clearly underestimated by Day and Mystical mopped up two handicaps before Day could correctly assess the horse's true ability.
Finally rated off 115, Mystical ran 14th to Admire Moon under Martin Dwyer in the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free at Nad Al Sheba.
Oasis Star, who ran three times in Dubai in 2010, once under Moore, is the only Indian horse to compete at Meydan so far.
"I have been hoping to have a horse to succeed in Dubai since the success of Mystical," said Zavaray Poonawalla, In The Spotlight's part-owner.
"She had a lung opener this week under Ryan and we are hoping that she can prove herself on the international stage tomorrow."
Day has a similar problem in the first race on the card when Elderly Paradise tops the field of 16 in the mile handicap.
He originally knocked off 20lbs from the Macau raider's domestic rating, but following a victory on dirt at Taipa last month the five-year-old Macau Derby winner heads the weights off a rating of 105.
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