x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Gitano Hernando, beaten favourite in last year's World Cup, is gearing up for revenge

Now that the five-year-old has confirmed his liking for the Tapeta surface, his trainer Botti has set a course that should ensure a repeat bid on March 26.

Last week it was Luca Cumani, the Italian trainer, who stole the show at Meydan Racecourse when Presvis crushed the opposition in the Al Rashidiya. Marco Botti, his compatriot, is hoping for something similar tonight when his Gitano Hernando lines up in round two of the Maktoum Challenge.

Botti's five-year-old was the favourite for the Dubai World Cup in March, but after missing the break and finding trouble in running during the world's richest race he finished an unlucky sixth. It remains Gitano Hernando's only defeat on a synthetic surface in six outings.

Botti has been plotting a revenge mission during the intervening months, and now that the five-year-old has confirmed his liking for the Tapeta surface, the trainer has set a course that should ensure a repeat bid on March 26.

"The horse is in good form and has been wintering in Dubai really well," Botti said. "He's a fairly adaptable horse, who can pick up quickly but he needs a strong pace, which he didn't really get in the World Cup. He is not 100 per cent for this race as we want to build him up for Super Thursday and then hopefully on to the World Cup."

Aside from Gitano Hernando, Botti has two other horses entered for the Dubai International Racing Carnival. Fanunalter, who arrives in the emirate next week, and Lolamar, who will go down the handicap route, having struggled to acclimatise quickly to the warm winter.

Despite winning the Cape Verdi last season with Soneva, Botti has limited experience as a trainer in the UAE, having taken out a licence only in 2006. Prior to that he worked for six months in Dubai with Godolphin, under the gaze of Saeed bin Suroor.

"The methods used out there are slightly different to what I am used to, more in tune with an American style than European racing," Botti said. "In America they tend to concentrate more on speed, whereas in Europe trainers tend to build in stamina."