News and notes from the track as the racing world begins to gather in Dubai for the World Cup.
UAE trainer al Raiher hopeful and happy to be at Meydan
It is going to be a hard task trying to beat the rejuvenated JJ The Jet Plane in the Al Quoz Sprint, but the UAE trainer Ali Rashid al Raihe saddles Happy Dubai in an effort to stop the 2009 winner.
Happy Dubai, a four-year-old, has won three of his last four starts at Meydan and the assistant trainer Jilani Sidiqqui could not be happier with him.
"This horse has been brilliant this year and is lightly raced on turf since arriving in the UAE," Sidiqqui said.
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"He won on his local debut on the Jebel Ali dirt but does seem to truly relish the fast turf and straight course at Meydan. This is a big step up but we have to be hopeful."
Al Shemali has a chance
Al Shemali, the 2010 Dubai Duty Free winner, will be given a shot in the Sheema Classic. Al Shemali has been a disappointment this season but will have a chance to prove himself in the US$5 million (Dh18.3m) turf race. His inclusion means Ali al Raihe now saddles four on World Cup day.
Moore has a mount
Following the disappointment of the loss of his ride on the talented filly Snow Fairy in the Sheema Classic, Ryan Moore has secured a ride on the Hong Kong runner King Dancer in the same race. The three-time British Champion jockey knows the horse well, having ridden him to second in the Group 1 Hong Kong Gold Cup in February.
Bankable is primed
Herman Brown, the South African handler, may have acquired Gitano Hernando for racing after the World Cup, but for now he is focused on his charges running this weekend. Bankable will be making his eighth Dubai start when he participates in the Dubai Duty Free, a race in which he finished second 12 months ago and fifth two years ago. "We have kept him over shorter distances this Carnival to keep him fresh for this race and I was pretty happy with how he won his prep over 1,200m," Brown said. "He is at his optimum racing weight now and I am happy he is primed to run his usual honest race."
The case for Musir
The World Cup runner Musir, last year's UAE Derby winner, was an adequate replacement for Bold Silvano when running second in the final round of the Al Maktoum Challenge this month. The UAE Derby was the only time the colt has won over 2,000 metres, but the trainer Mike de Kock believed he proved his ability to stay the trip. "You have to think he stayed as he was only beaten by one horse. Hopefully he has come on from that run and he is a great second string to our World Cup bow," De Kock said.
A tweet that tweaks
Wigmore Hall was impressive when winning the Jebel Hatta this month, and Michael Bell heads to Dubai today to oversee the final preparations ahead of his four-year-old's clash with Bankable in the Dubai Duty Free. Bell was sad to hear of Snow Fairy's withdrawal from the Sheema Classic. "What a shame about SF," he tweeted to the filly's trainer, Ed Dunlop. "Also means I can't take you on over 18 holes which is a blow."
And they're at the wire
The UAE jockeys' championship will come down to the final day of the season, thanks to a win for Tadhg O'Shea at Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club on Sunday. O'Shea is one win behind Wayne Smith but will take the title on countback if either of his two rides come home on Saturday.