Recent races in Dubai, the US and France have painted a clearer picture on who will be running at Meydan Racecourse, writes Geoffrey Riddle.
Picture clearer over which horses are headed to Dubai World Cup
Recent races in Dubai, the US and France have painted a clearer picture on who will be running at Meydan Racecourse this month.
No Cirrus but every cloud has a silver lining
Cirrus Des Aigles will not defend his Dubai Sheema Classic title later this month but could return to Dubai. The evergreen gelding has not recovered sufficiently from a tendon injury sustained in Hong Kong in December.
The world's highest-rated racehorse will be prepared for a campaign by the trainer Corine Barande-Barbe that will take in the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot in England, in June, and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at the same course a month later.
The ultimate aim is to once again run in October in the Champion Stakes at Ascot, in which the gelding so memorably ran Frankel to just under two lengths last season with a view to reclaiming his crown in Dubai in 2014.
"He will not come to Dubai," Barande-Barbe said. "If you give horses time when they need it they last longer."
Dude is in rude health so it may not be Game On Dubai
Game On Dude, who is among the favourites for the Dubai World Cup, destroyed a high-class field in the Santa Anita Handicap in California on Saturday.
The six year old, trained by Bob Baffert, beat Clubhouse Ride by seven and three-quarter lengths.
What was perhaps the most impressive aspect to the record-breaking run was that Game On Dude was burdened with the highest weight ever set in the 76-year history of the event.
Baffert suggested, however, that Game On Dude may run in the US$1.5 million (Dh5.51m) Charles Town Classic in April in preference to the $10m event staged at Meydan Racecourse on March 30.
Game On Dude finished second in the Charles Town in 2011 following his previous victory in the Santa Anita Handicap.
Mental absence makes the heart grow fonder
Kavanagh was an impressive winner in a fast time of the Energia Elegante turf handicap at Meydan on Saturday.
Mike de Kock's charge put in an improved performance under Christophe Soumillon for his fourth run at the Dubai track and paid a handsome compliment to Godolphin's Mental, who put Kavanagh in his place in the Al Shindagha Sprint last month.
Mental, trained by Mahmoud Al Zarooni, was not among the entries yesterday for Saturday's Mahab Al Shimaal, the 1,200-metre sprint on Tapeta, and is likely to head straight for the Dubai Golden Shaheen on World Cup night with a leading chance.
Krypton Factor, last season's Dubai Golden Shaheen winner who was third behind Mental on his seasonal bow in Dubai, has been entered in the Group 3 sprint.
European runners remain backward
Although Lily's Angel struck for Ireland on the first night of the Dubai World Cup Carnival in January, the European runners took time to come to hand this season.
Both Saddler's Rock and Royal Diamond, who were respectively fifth and seventh in the Nad Al Sheba Trophy on Saturday at Meydan, produced runs well short of their true ability on their first starts in Dubai and much more is expected from them should they take their place in the Dubai Gold Cup on World Cup night.
There were a whole host of recently-arrived European runners entered across the glittering eight-race Super Saturday card yesterday.
Chantilly prep card lacked any cream
The French racecourse staged two races on Saturday that could be seen as a stepping stone to World Cup night but neither produced anything that should worry the principals on March 30.
Zazou, who is among the nominations for the Dubai World Cup, was well beaten in the Prix Meydan Hotel, a 2,000m race run on Polytrack.
Last season Zazou defeated Cirrus Des Aigles in the Prix Meydan Hotel before running fifth in the world's most valuable race.
Waldemar Hickst's son of Shamardal could finish only third, four lengths adrift of the winner Don Bosco, who was ridden with aplomb by Mirco Demuro, the Dubai World-Cup winning jockey.
The Prix Bab Al Shams, a 1,600m race run on Polytrack, was won by Silas Marner, who defeated French Fifteen.
French Fifteen is owned by Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa Al Thani and trained by Nicolas Clement.
The four-year-old colt was second to Camelot in the English 2000 Guineas last season and was having his first run since July.
French Fifteen is among the nominations for the Dubai Duty Free.
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