Gronkowski returns at Meydan with early warm-up for Dubai World Cup
Runner-up to Thunder Snow in last year's big race is getting in shape for another crack at title
The Dubai World Cup runner up Gronkowski returns to the track earlier than expected for his first run of the season.
The Lonhro colt lines up with six others over the Dubai World Cup distance of 2,000 metres on the dirt in The Entisar, one of two Listed prizes on offer in the seven-race card at Meydan on Thursday.
Gronkowski’s trainer Salem bin Ghadayer believes an early prep race will have his stable star in good shape for the Dubai World Cup Carnival, starting from January and another shot at the $12 million (Dh44m) Dubai World Cup on March 28.
“He’s going the right way and, at the end of the day, this is going to be a prep race for him,” the Emirati said.
“I’m happy with him. I would say he is about 80-85 per cent ready and he’s fit for this kind of race. I am not scared about the lay-off. This is a first race for him. He’ll be in form.
“He’s a sound horse and the only thing I can say is that he can be a bit naughty at the starting gate.”
Gronkowski under Oisin Murphy, the newly crowned British champion jockey, went down by a nose to Godolphin’s Thunder Snow who went on to become the first horse to win the Dubai World Cup twice.
Gronkowski is the choice of stable’s first jockey Royston Ffrench while Xavier Ziani is atop Bin Ghadayer’s other entry in the race, Talento Puma.
Talento Puma is a winner of two of his three career starts, both over the 1,400m distance, but his trainer is confident the Argentine bred Equal Talent colt can handle the longer trip.
“He’s a new horse and we have just had him since this summer,” Bin Ghadayer said. “He’s had three starts in Argentina and he won over seven furlongs, but how he shows at home that he could be a nine- or 10-furlong horse.”
Challenging Bin Ghadayer’s pair are Ahmed bin Harmash’s New Trails (unplaced in the Dubai World Cup), Ali Rashid Al Raihe’s UAE 2000 Guineas third Manguzi and newcomer to Satish Seemar’s yard, Military Law.
Bin Ghadayer will be aiming for a Listed prize double with Inverleigh in The Garhoud Sprint 35 minutes later.
The Excelebration colt was well beaten in his local debut at Jebel Ali but he’s won a Listed prize and runner up in Group Three company when trained by Ger Lyons in Ireland.
“Inverleigh must prove his form and it’s a tough race, but I hope he goes well,” Bin Ghadayer said.
“He is training very well, so I hope everything goes the right way. He had very good form on turf in Ireland and Jebel Ali was just a prep. He’s a keen horse, but he has ability – but he must show it.”
Bin Harmash’s UAE 2000 Guineas runner up and the UAE Derby seventh Walking Thunder, along with Musabah Al Muhairi’s Ibn Malik and Bahraini Fawzi Nass’ Nine Below Zero, all can go close.
Updated: December 5, 2019 09:42 AM