x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Godolphin mount Dubai World Cup challenge

Mastery and Allybar of the Godolphin stables - touted as challengers to the favourite, Gio Ponti, at the Dubai World Cup - named in the early fields for the race.

Spanish Moon, right, is all set for a return on Dubai World Cup night on March 27.
Spanish Moon, right, is all set for a return on Dubai World Cup night on March 27.

DUBAI // Mastery and Allybar of the Godolphin stables - touted as challengers to the favourite, Gio Ponti, at the Dubai World Cup - were named yesterday in the early fields for the race. Runners will be confirmed at the final declaration stage next Monday, but there are 14 horses from six countries entered for the 15th running of the world's richest horse race on March 27.

Mastery, Godolphin's St Leger winner, and Allybar, the Al Maktoum Challenge Round II winner, are listed in a field headed by Gio Ponti, the favourite and Breeders Cup Classic runner-up. Gitano Hernando, the Marco Botti-trained Goodwood Stakes victor, represents Great Britain, as does Brian Meehan's Crowded House, who won the Group One Racing Post Trophy last year. Henry Cecil's Twice Over, third in the Breeders' Cup Classic, has been pleasing his connections as he prepares in England.

"He is doing very well and is effortless in his work," said Cecil. "I'm trying to time his preparation right and he will go to Dubai a week before the race when his main work will have been done." Gio Ponti, prepared by Christophe Clement, is a four-time Grade One winner in the US and was runner-up in his last three Grade One starts. Richard's Kid, a Grade Two winner, Take the Points and Furthest Land, both Grade One winners, also go to post for the US.

Mike de Kock, without the now-retired Eagle Mountain, the injured horse he had pinned his hopes on at the beginning of the season, still has two runners - the talented Lizard's Desire and Mr Brock. Red Desire, the Japanese filly who won the Al Maktoum Challenge Round III in fine style two weeks ago, takes her chance among the boys for the trainer, Mikio Matsunaga. Other headline World Cup night runners include Sir Michael Stoute's Qatar Prix Foy winner Spanish Moon, who will race in the Sheema Classic.

After an unsuccessful trial on Tapeta, Presvis, the 2009 Dubai Duty Free runner-up and Group One Audemars Piguet QEII Cup-winner, makes a return to turf in the same race this year. The Luca Cumani charge was counted out of the World Cup, his original target, and appeared to have rediscovered his form in spectacular fashion under Ryan Moore in the Group Two Jebel Hatta at the start of the month. stregoning@thenational.ae