Charlie Appleby fancies Divine Image's chances at Dubai World Cup Carnival
Godolphin mount serious challenge for Thursday's action in Week 8 of racing festival
It will be difficult to look beyond Godolphin's runners when Week 8 of the Dubai World Cup Carnival gets under way at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday.
The Group 3 UAE Oaks is the highlight of the three main prizes, and the royal blues have ready a trio of horses challenging for the title they have won 10 times since it was first run in 2001.
Saeed bin Suroor is double-handed with Dubai Beauty and Swift Rose, while fellow Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby sends out Divine Image, the UAE 1000 Guineas runner-up.
Divine Image was unfortunate in the Guineas having missed the break to trail the rest of the field, but she did well to overtake all but eventual winner Silva over the 1,600-metre trip three weeks ago.
On Thursday night, a good break from the barriers and an extended 1,900m distance to travel mean the Scat Daddy filly looks rock-solid in a renewal which also includes Silva, third-placed Lady Parma and fourth-placed Dubai Beauty.
“Divine Image is a lightly-raced filly and her inexperience counted against her in the 1000 Guineas, when she missed the break,” Appleby told Godolphin.com. “She has come out of that race well and has experience now on the surface, which should aid her chances.”
Bin Suroor’s Dubai Beauty should go closer after showing improvement in her second run at Meydan.
“Dubai Beauty has been disappointing so far this year,” Bin Suroor conceded. “She won well first time out at Newmarket last season – when she showed some class – and I am hoping that the extra distance might bring about an improved performance.
“Swift Rose has also been disappointing out in Dubai, but there is not much left for her at the carnival. So we decided to give her another chance in a race like this,” he added.
Godolphin also has a strong presence in the Group 2 Zabeel Mile and the Group 3 Dubai Millennium Stakes.
Appleby has a trio in the Zabeel Mile with William Buick, the trainer’s first jockey, opting to ride Mythical Magic. James Doyle is atop Wootton and Colm O’Donoghue on First Contact.
“We were delighted with Mythical Magic’s performance in the Al Fahidi Fort and the step-up to a mile is going to suit,” the Englishman said.
“Wootton brings a good level of form from Europe and his training has gone well. He looks to have strengthened up over the winter and a reproduction of his Royal Ascot run is going to make him a serious contender.
“First Contact didn’t settle very well in the Al Rashidiya, so we are looking to get him to relax over this distance and do everything the right way round.”
Bin Suroor sends out Top Score in the race as the 1,600m distance will suit him more than the 1,200m trip last time out.
“He has been working well at home,” he said. “We felt that he deserved another chance in a Group race, and I am hoping for a better run this time."
Updated: February 21, 2019 08:52 AM