x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Dubai World Cup Carnival: Romans does as Dullahan and Little Mike promise to do

Trainer optimistic of double hand as Kieren Fallon will be onboard the American duo in their new challenges.

Dullahan has run on synthetic surfaces but not over a mile, a distance the four year old should be able to handle, according to trainer Dale Romans. Al Bello / Getty Images
Dullahan has run on synthetic surfaces but not over a mile, a distance the four year old should be able to handle, according to trainer Dale Romans. Al Bello / Getty Images

When Dale Romans won the Dubai World Cup in 2005 with Roses In May he made the promise that he would not come back to the UAE unless he had the right horse.

He returned with Massive Drama, who finished a chastening ninth of 10 in the UAE Derby in 2008, but much like buses, two have come along and on Saturday at Meydan Racecourse the American trainer will run both Dullahan and Little Mike.

Dullahan, a synthetic specialist, puts his credentials on the line in the Burj Nahaar, a 1,600-metre contest run on Tapeta, while Little Mike shoots for the stars in Round 3 of the Al Maktoum Challenge, the US$400,000 (Dh1,47 million) feature run on the same surface over 400m further.

Neither will find their respective races perfectly tailored to their abilities. Dullahan has never run over a mile, while Little Mike has never tried synthetic.

Yet Romans needs to get a run into his two raiders, neither of whom have seen racecourse action since the Breeders' Cup in November.

Both have worked on the Tapeta at Meydan this week under Tammy Fox, the trainer's assistant and partner, and if they take to the surface in the white heat of competition Romans sees no reason in separating the two in the Dubai World Cup on March 30.

"They had no problems on the track when working on the surface and seemed to move over it well," Romans told The National. "This is a test for the World Cup more than anything. If Little Mike handles the synthetic surface then we'll run in the big race.

"It's a pretty good position to be in having two horses running for $10m isn't it?"

Little Mike has the option of running in the Dubai Sheema Classic on World Cup night after his success in the 2,400m Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita, California, while Dullahan could revert to the Dubai Duty Free, also run on turf.

Dullahan proved his ability to handle synthetic surfaces when he won three Grade 1 races in America last season, including a defeat of Game On Dude.

Little Mike's Breeders' Cup win was also his third success at the highest level and the two horses are the first to accumulate three Grade 1 races for Romans.

Of the two runners, Romans appears to be most excited about the chances of Dullahan.

The four year old, owned by Donegal Racing, appeared to need strengthening up ahead of the Breeders' Cup, when he was ninth behind his stablemate, but Romans reported that he has filled out his long, athletic frame.

"They both are special horses," he said. "They both have their strong suits. It is hard to knock Little Mike. If he takes his grass form to the synthetic he is a major contender.

"Dullahan has finally got there. We gave him a freshener after the Breeders' Cup but he comes into the race in the right way. I have never seen him train as well as he has in the past few weeks."

Kieren Fallon has manoeuvred himself in to the position of taking both rides. The Irish jockey has been riding with aplomb in the UAE this season but has only six winners to show for it. Fallon seems to be hitting his straps at the right time, however, and rode a double aboard Quick Wit and Ahzeemah last week.

With a book of rides that also includes Krypton Factor in the Mahab Al Shimaal and Invincible Ash in the Meydan Sprint, Fallon in understandably looking forward to "Super Saturday".

"They are two of the best American horses that have come to the UAE so far," Fallon, who is set to ride work on one of the American duo this morning, said.

"I went to see them when they arrived and they travelled over really well. Hopefully they are going to run big races.

"I've been having a good old run here without having too many winners but now I'm on cloud nine after my double and I'm really looking forward to a big weekend."

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