x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Five Group 1-winning horses in field for Maktoum Challenge at Meydan Racecourse

A high-class field will be competing for the Maktoum Challenge, one of the highlights on an eight-race card at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai.

The Group 3 Thoroughbred Maktoum Challenge at Meydan Racecourse tonight features a high-class field, with five Group 1 winners in the nine-horse line-up.

Al Shemali, winner of last year's Dubai Duty Free, Mike de Kock's Bold Silvano, Crowded House, Gitano Hernado and Interaction, trained by last year's Dubai World Cup-winning trainer Pascal Bary, have all been declared for the race won last year by Godolphin's Allybar.

Al Shemali is trained by Ali Rashid al Raihe, the UAE champion trainer, and is being targeted for the US$10million (Dh36,729m) Dubai World Cup next month.

"He has won on the [all-weather] but not at this level," al Raihe said. "He will improve for the outing but we would love a go at the Dubai World Cup itself this year and this is the obvious place to start."

De Kock, the South African trainer, has high hopes for Bold Silvano, who won the Group 1 Durban July Handicap in his last outing. He too is being targeted at the Dubai World Cup.

"He is not 100 per cent fit certainly, but definitely ready for a race," de Kock said.

"He is working well in the mornings on [the all-weather] and we are very hopeful he can transfer his turf form to the new surface. It should be a true test with such a high-class field."

Meanwhile, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid has a very strong hand in the Group 1 Purebred Arabian equivalent over 2,200m.

Richard Hills has chosen to ride Kandar Du Falgas from the Minister of Finance's four runners. Gill Duffield introduces Periander to local action in the same race in which her second runner, Adjinn D'Aroco, is one of those rejected by Hills but certainly cannot be discounted.

De Kock, meanwhile, has strong contenders in the UAE 1000 Guineas, over 1,600m, – the first Classic of the year – in the shape of Mahbooba and in the 1,200m Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint with Our Giant, who won on the opening night of this year's Carnival.