If the Dubai Racing Club ever needed an advertisement for the benefits of the Dubai World Cup Carnival a replay of last night's Round 3 of the Al Maktoum Challenge would surely suffice.
The glitz that international raiders lend racing in Dubai generates valuable interest in the sport around the world, but the high-profile horses that shipped in to the UAE recently for last night's action were soundly beaten.
Little Mike, the Breeders' Cup Turf hero, could only finish eighth to Hunter's Light on his first start on Tapeta. As a footnote his stablemate Dullahan was 11th behind African Story in the Burj Nahaar for trainer Dale Romans.
Saeed bin Suroor may have saddled runners in every major racing nation around the world in his role as the veteran trainer for Godolphin, but the master of Al Quoz delivered in his own backyard by securing four wins across the card.
Hunter's Light led home stablemates Kassiano and Prince Bishop, all previously battle-hardened at Meydan Racecourse, to dominate the feature event. For good measure the local trainers Satish Seemar and Mubarak bin Shafya saddled Surfer, who was fourth, and Jamr, who finished fifth, respectively.
Thanks to his conditioning in the latter two rounds of the Al Maktoum Challenge, Hunter's Light looks to be a serious player in the Dubai World Cup in three weeks.
Only three horses have ever won the third round of the Al Maktoum Challenge before winning the world's most valuable race in the same season. It is hardly surprising Bin Suroor trained all of them. Electrocutionist joined Street Cry and Dubai Millennium by using the Al Maktoum Challenge as a springboard to World Cup success in 2006. It was the last time Bin Suroor won the US$10 million (Dh36.7m) Group 1 race.
With Sajjhaa looking a prime candidate for the Dubai Duty Free after her win in the Jebel Hatta and African Story now looking a shoo-in to add to last season's win in the Godolphin Mile, Bin Suroor is surely the face of this year's Carnival.
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