x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Saddled up for the richest horse race

The waiting is almost over and Saturday is Dubai World Cup night; the culmination of the carnival and of a year's planning in some cases.

The waiting is almost over and Saturday is Dubai World Cup night; the culmination of the carnival and of a year's planning in some cases. That particularly applies to our World Cup hope Asiatic Boy for whom this has been his specific target ever since he crossed the line in second last year. He has been trained ever since with Saturday in mind and we hope to have him at the very top of his game for the world's richest horse race.

He won over course and distance last time and will have improved from that outing so it is fingers crossed and all systems go. Curlin beat him last year and was unbeatable on the night - hopefully it is a more winnable contest this time and he can go close under John Murtagh We put him through his paces on the new synthetic tapeta track yesterday morning and he went very well. The track is a great addition to the facilities and it is just a shame it was not ready earlier. Kevin Shea was really impressed and he is a top jockey who has ridden on tracks around the world.

Sadly, Honour Devil misses the race and will require surgery on a trapped epiglottis but that is racing sometimes. We have yet to win the US$6million (Dh22m) World Cup but have a good record on the night as a whole, especially in the turf races and we have some nice runners this year. Ipi Tombe and Right Approach, who dead-heated, have both landed the 1,777m Dubai Duty Free for us and we have a leading contender in Archipenko who was third last year. He was perhaps unlucky on that occasion and has thrived since, showing himself to be a true international performer. The draw is not made until this afternoon and can be crucial in 16 runner fields at Nad Al Sheba.

We also have Bankable in the race and he too is a quality performer and both won their sole starts this year in style and it gives us a strong hand in the US$5million contest. We have four runners in the other grass race, the US$5million Sheema Classic over 12 furlongs and Kevin won this for us last year on Sun Classique. He rides Front House this time and the pair won over course and distance last time. That was a pleasing effort, while Murtagh will ride King of Rome who was third in the same contest and really pleased us as he would have needed the run - as did Macarthur who was in the same race. That trio are joined by Russian Sage who we are stepping up in trip which will hopefully suit. Again, the draw could be crucial.

The Godolphin Mile, in which we have three runners, looks well named this year as Godolphin duo Gayego and Two Step Salsa certainly look the pair to beat. Our Lucky Find does have a touch of class and contested the World Cup last year but his preparation has been rushed. Art of War has thrived on a busy campaign and Brave Tin Soldier is a course and distance winner. We actually ran him at Jebel Ali the other day - in a five-furlong sprint - as his final prep and he ran a great race. However, I think we are running for third, fourth and fifth with the Godolphin pair looking very strong.

It would be great to have a winner at the last meeting ever at Nad Al Sheba and to win the last ever race there - the World Cup - would be extra special? @Email:sports@thenational.ae