x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Hong Kong trio add spice to Dubai Duty Free World Cup showdown

The rivalry between Presvis and Wigmore Hall may take a backseat to a trio of terrific Hong Kong horses also entered in the US$5 million (Dh18.36m) race on World Cup night. Audio preview

Ambitious Dragon was the first on the track during a Monday morning workout at Meydan Racecourse in preparation for Dubai World Cup night Saturday.
Ambitious Dragon was the first on the track during a Monday morning workout at Meydan Racecourse in preparation for Dubai World Cup night Saturday.

Dubai // Wigmore Hall leads Presvis 3-1 in their private battle for supremacy, but their continued association in Saturday's Dubai Duty Free is a small part of a bigger storyline that could continue throughout the international racing season.

The two horses are well acquainted with Meydan Racecourse; they duelled twice in Dubai last season and again this season, when Wigmore Hall finished sixth and Presvis was ninth in the Jebel Hatta on March 10.

But it is the presence of the well-touted Hong Kong trio of Ambitious Dragon, California Memory and Xtension that adds extra spice to the 1,800-metre Dubai Duty Free contest.

Those three have clashed several times, and Ambitious Dragon, who was crowned Hong Kong's horse of the year, holds the upper hand. The six year old was the first horse to take to the Tapeta on Monday, emerging under cover of darkness at 5.40am to do an easy piece of work.

"I just arrived and I was very happy with what I saw. The horse is in great form and has settled in nicely," the trainer Tony Millard said. "I can't get him any fitter between now and the race."

The fortunes of Wigmore Hall and Presvis will be intertwined with the Hong Kong horses throughout the international season.

After the Dubai Duty Free, the next stop on the calendar is Hong Kong, where Xtension beat Presvis in April and Ambitious Dragon beat California Memory and Wigmore Hall a week later.

Monday, Presvis and Wigmore Hall were handed wide draws in 12 and 15 respectively for Saturday's race. Last year Presvis emerged from gate six to take the winner's share of the US$5 million (Dh18.36m) prize money.

In the Group 1 Sheema Classic, a pair of Goldolphin horses will bookend the field. Shimraan, to be with Mickael Barzalona, was drawn widest of all in gate 16 while stablemate Songcraft will emerge from gate one under Silvestre De Sousa.

The draw and jockey bookings for eight of the nine races in the Dubai World Cup meeting were finalised yesterday.

The draw for the World Cup itself has still to be made.

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