DUBAI // Tonight's Super Thursday meeting at Meydan Racecourse can be viewed as a mini World Cup day. It is the traditional dress rehearsal for the world's richest night of horse racing and a good performance could secure runners with invites to the ultimate prize - big-money races on March 27. The final rounds of the Arabian and Thoroughbred Al Maktoum Challenge contests feature strongly. One is seen as a practice run for the Kahayla Classic and the other for the Dubai World Cup.
The Dubai City of Gold, a prep for the Sheema Classic, sees Halicarnassus line up again in a bid to go two from three in the UAE. Second on his first start at Meydan Racecourse, the Mick Channon-trained runner then beat Mourilyan by a short head over 12 furlongs two weeks ago. Ridden by Alan Munro, Halicarnassus takes on Sir Michael Stoute's Perfect Stride, who was seventh to Godolphin's Allybar a fortnight ago over an extended nine furlongs.
Campanologist, another Godolphin runner, gets his first start of the season after his second in the Group Three Cumberland Lodge Stakes at Ascot. He then ran unplaced in the Champion Stakes at Newmarket before making the trip to the Emirates. Also on the card is the Al Bastakiya over an extended nine furlongs on Tapeta. This race, which can see horses progress to the UAE Derby, features Godolphin's Vale of York, winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in November.
Without a competitive run for nearly four months, Godolphin have made no secret of the fact they think this horse could be a Kentucky Derby contender. And he is expected to come on after this race, according to Simon Crisford, Godolphin's racing manager. "He will improve for the run but he is ready," he said. "We have the option of taking him to Europe or America and this race will teach us a lot."
Vale of York takes on Herman Brown's Storm Chispazo, the Argentine Derby winner who will be looking for an invite to the UAE Derby after finishing eighth in the UAE 2,000 Guineas. At a mile, that race was always considered a little short for him and the extra distance tonight should suit him. Musir, Mike de Kock's 2,000 Guineas winner, is a non-runner, but is already assured of a place in the UAE Derby.
Presvis, the Dubai Duty Free runner-up in 2009, makes the switch from Tapeta back to turf for the Jebel Hatta, a prep race for the Duty Free. With Ryan Moore in the saddle after Kieren Fallon relinquished the ride, his trainer, Luca Cumani, will be hoping his charge has more to show in his first run since finishing second in a three-horse handicap last month. firstname.lastname@example.org