DUBAI // The multiple Group One winner, Twice Over, became the horse to catch yesterday, when he claimed the Al Maktoum Challenge Round Three - the final dress rehearsal for the Dubai World Cup.
Henry Cecil's two-time Champion Stakes winner was a well-beaten 10th in last season's World Cup, but he lit up the track last night under Tom Queally, getting the better of Mike de Kock's well-regarded Musir and Marco Botti's talented Gitano Hernando in the Group Two race.
Meanwhile the 2,000m Group One Al Maktoum Challenge Round Three for Purebred Arabians produced a new Kahayla Classic contender and he seems more than capable of taking on the old guard.
Nieshan beat popular favourite, No Risk al Maury, into third place with stablemate Albar Lotois finishing second.
No Risk al Maury, winner of the first round of the Al Maktoum Challenge in both 2011 and 2010 and runner-up in the Kahayla Classic last season, was three-and-a-half lengths behind the winner.
Ridden by Christophe Lemaire, Nieshan was the jockey's first Carnival winner.
Eric Lemartinel, trainer of the first two, said his horse was a likely Kahayla Classic contender.
"This was his first run at Meydan," said the Frenchman, who won the race in 2008 with Mizzna. "We will see how he pulls up and then think about the big race."
For owner, Ali Haddad, who also owns the second-placed Albar Lotois, the result was literally a dream come true.
"It is a funny thing but I dreamed last night that my horses finished one-two," he said.
Mendip the winner of the first round of the Al Maktoum Challenge, squeaked to victory in the mile-long Burj Nahaar, with jockey Frankie Dettori just encouraging him past Zafeen Speed by a neck.
His trainer, Saeed bin Suroor, is still undecided as to his charge's next port of call.
"He didn't do it as easily as last time but it is a Group Three and a better race," said bin Suroor. "I want to keep his options open - World Cup or Godolphin Mile - but I think the mile-and-a-quarter will be fine for him."
Mahmoud al Zarooni claimed the next race for Godolphin, the 2,485-metre Group Two Dubai City of Gold with the Irish Derby fourth, Monterosso. That horse will now contest the Sheema Classic.
The Herman Brown-trained Bankable proved his versatility claiming the 1,200m Group Three Mahab al Shimal on Tapeta, a prep race for the Golden Shaheen. However, he will aim for the 1,800m Dubai Duty Free on turf, a contest in which he was runner-up last season.
"He's a very fragile horse and we have worked him on Tapeta to keep him sound," said Brown of the seven-year-old. "He's had some bad luck in running this season and I wanted to give him a race where we could look after him ahead of the big day."
Mike de Kock's Reem showed the boys a clean pair of heels in the Derby trial, the Al Bastakiya over 1,900m. She eased down under Kevin Shea as she approached the line, after a burst of speed in the home stretch put her well ahead.