x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Dubai World Cup: Sajjhaa's chances sum up tough choices in Dubai Duty Free

The Group 1 race is often the most competitive on the card and this year is no different.

Silvestre de Sousa and Sajjhaa race to victory at Meydan Racecourse last month. Christopher Pike / The National
Silvestre de Sousa and Sajjhaa race to victory at Meydan Racecourse last month. Christopher Pike / The National

DUBAI // The Dubai Duty Free often is the most competitive race of the Dubai World Cup meeting, and this year's renewal appears no exception.

Both Godolphin trainers, Saeed bin Suroor and Mahmoud Al Zarooni, are doubly represented in the US$5 million (Dh18.4m) event.

Bin Suroor's Sajjhaa is seeking a fourth consecutive victory after winning three times at the Dubai World Cup Carnival, highlighted by a career-best triumph on Super Saturday in the Group 1 Jebel Hatta over today's course and distance.

Bin Suroor noted that Sajjhaa is unbeaten in Dubai this year. "She is doing really good in training - no problems at all," he said.

"She is in the right race, though she faces better horses this time. Her class should mean another good run. She has improved a lot, physically, this year and we have been delighted with her."

The trainer also saddles Aesop's Fables, the mount of Kieren Fallon, and added: "Aesop's Fables ran well first time out when needing the race and you can forget his performance last time as did not seem to like Tapeta."

Al Zarooni is represented by both City Style and Fulbright, but he sounds more hopeful than confident.

"City Style came third last year in this race," said the trainer. "He is the type of horse who comes second in a maiden and then second in a Group 1. He is a bit clever and I am not sure he wants to be in front. Having said that, he is in the best form of his life, so fingers crossed.

"I think Fulbright can improve; there is no doubt that he is a good horse. I like him. He has been unlucky in at least one of his races this year."

The South African Mike de Kock is seeking a third win in the race and is set to saddle three runners, including last year's South African horse of the year, Igugu, who has yet to fire in two starts locally.

She will be ridden by Anthony Delpech, with Christophe Soumillon aboard The Apache and Paul Hanagan riding Mushreq for his main employer, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed.

De Kock said: "The Apache has done nothing wrong in his two starts, winning the first one and then just touched off on Super Saturday. This looks a hot race but I think he has improved again over the last three weeks and he will run a solid race.

"Mushreq was so busy in the early part of the year that we have freshened him up since his win in the Al Fahidi Fort five weeks ago. Nothing went right in either of his first two starts and it was a case of third time lucky with him.

"That was only a handicap, though, and we tried him back on Tapeta then in Al Maktoum Challenge II before switching back to grass for that Al Fahidi Fort. He is in really good form and hopefully is still improving.

"Igugu has improved with each of her two starts and, hopefully, we have sorted out the hormone issues which were making it difficult to train her as we would have liked. She is certainly a lot fitter this time but this is obviously the strongest race she will have contested in Dubai.

"Hopefully, she can bounce back to something like her best."


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