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The shoe fits for trainer Henry Cecil

Henry Cecil has likened Twice Over's problems with his feet to that of running in shoes "half a size too small" ahead of his six-year-old's reappearance at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday.

Henry Cecil has likened Twice Over's problems with his feet to that of running in shoes "half a size too small" ahead of his six-year-old's reappearance at Meydan Racecourse in round three of the Maktoum Challenge on Super Thursday.

Twice Over headed the entries yesterday as the highest-rated contender to the US$300,000 (Dh1.1 million) Group 2 contest, having travelled from the British trainer's Warren Place stables in Newmarket two weeks ago.

Twice Over, who has accumulated over $2m in prize-money for owner Khalid Abdullah, has little room for nails in his feet for the application of traditional horse shoes which has resulted in a specially designed plastic shoe being attached to his hoofs.

"He's improved because we've cemented these shoes on to his feet. Before it was like him racing in shoes half a size too small," said Cecil, who trains 14 horses for Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE.

"He moves so much better now, and trots better. He's a lot happier and I think I've got him in better shape this year than last year."

Twice Over beat only four other runners when trailing in 10th behind Gloria Campeao in the Dubai World Cup last season, but was drawn poorly in stall 11 for a horse who likes to be up with the pace.

Unlike the first three home that day, Twice Over did not have a prep run in Dubai and although Cecil has changed the colt's routine for this latest tilt in the UAE it has not been without logistical problems.

"I shan't be coming out for Super Thursday as I can't be everywhere," Cecil said. "I've got 130 horses here that need preparing with the British season coming shortly. I have had to organise Twice Over's training programme from here. I work out how long he needs to be walked for, how far to trot him in the mornings, those sorts of things.

"Tom Queally, my jockey, is over there and I'm very pleased to have him oversee the preparation. My assistant and farrier have also had to fly out.

"I'm delighted with the horse. If he runs well, and up to how I expect, then he'll go in the Dubai World Cup."

Twice Over is joined in the race by fellow British challenger Wigmore Hall, who arrived in Dubai on Friday and who is trained by Michael Bell, as well as Gitano Hernando, who ran fifth in round two of the Maktoum Challenge behind Bold Silvano, who also has been entered.

Interaction, trained by Pascal Bary, last year's Dubai World Cup-winning trainer, has also been entered alongside fellow French raider Rajsaman, sent here by Freddie Head.

The international flavour is completed by the presence of Crowded House, trained by the American Ben Cecil, while Godolphin lead the domestic challenge with six entries headed by Poet's Voice, trained by Saeed bin Suroor, and Debussy, handled by Mahmood al Zarooni.

 

sports@thenational.ae

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