The trainer saddles his charge in tonight's feature race in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 at Meydan Racecourse at the Dubai World Cup Carnival.
Dance And Dance 'the best horse I've trained', says Ed Vaughan
Dance And Dance may be a late developer but Ed Vaughan believes his charge improved enough last season to make a lasting impression at Meydan Racecourse tonight on the trainer's debut at the Dubai track.
The Darley-bred six year old took five goes at losing his maiden tag but since winning a minor race, worth just Dh11,000 at Lingfield in England, he has proved a major force in some of the biggest races in Canada and America.
The mount of Jamie Spencer finished sixth to Turallure in the Group 1 Woodbine Mile in September, one place ahead of Court Vision. Those two horses subsequently dominated the Breeders' Cup Mile at Churchill Downs in November.
Dance and Dance then went on to Kentucky to finish fifth behind Gio Ponti, the dual Dubai World Cup runner, in the Turf Mile Stakes.
"Each year he just seems to have improved and last year he took a major step forward," Vaughan said.
"He was very unlucky to not beat Turallure as he got no run and was blocked in all the time. He never came off the bridle and was only two lengths behind."
Much as it has required several years for the gelding to mature it also takes Dance And Dance a while to get into his stride during his races.
It means tonight's first round of the Al Maktoum Challenge over 1,600 metres is now the horse's minimum distance with Vaughan aiming to shoot at the highest level later in the season.
"I wouldn't say he was a hold-up horse, it is just the way he is," the trainer said.
"He is a slow operator and as such he'll go a bit farther. At some stage I'll be having a crack at a mile and a quarter with him, which could open up the Dubai Duty Free on World Cup night, but I still think the Godolphin Mile is more likely."
Whereas it took Dance And Dance 38 hours to get to Canada via Amsterdam and Frankfurt, the trip from Newmarket to Dubai was just 11 hours door-to-door. Much like Fanunalter, who lines up for Marco Botti, both horses arrived at Meydan earlier this week and will be a test for the theory that horses have an advantage when run "off the plane".
Over the past two seasons Botti has run Gitano Hernando to good effect within a few days of arrival, and Fanunalter shares the highest rating in the 12-runner line-up with Musir, the 2010 UAE Derby winner trained by Mike de Kock.
The South African handler also saddles last season's narrow UAE Derby runner-up, Master Of Hounds, while Mendip, a quadruple Carnival scorer, is a danger as one of three Godolphin entrants.
Foreign-trained runners have an excellent record in the Group 3 contest with three wins in the past five seasons and Vaughan is looking forward to proving himself against his former employers having taken up a training licence only in 2004.
"I worked for Godolphin for their pre-season training operation at Kildangan Stud in Ireland many moons ago," Vaughan said. "Dance And Dance is fit and fresh and he's a genuine horse that would burst his heart out for you. He's the best horse I have trained so far."