Godolphin's Sharestan was an impressive winner of the trial for the $200,000 Al Rashidiya Sponsored by Dubal (UAE-II) earlier this month and will try for a breakthrough group win in the main event Jan. 31 at Meydan.
The 5-year-old by Shamardal will be making only his second start for the Maktoum family's racing operation as he previously was trained by John Oxx for breeder the Aga Khan. A dual stakes winner in Ireland, where he won four of seven starts for his previous connections, he joined trainer Saeed bin Suroor this winter.
In his Meydan debut, Sharestan scored by four lengths over French group III winner So Beautiful in the Al Rashidiya trial, a 1 1/8-mile turf conditions race, on Jan. 10. He will bid to extend a three-race win streak that includes a pair of listed stakes last June at the Curragh. Prior to that, he finished third behind Windsor Palace and St Nicholas Abbey in the High Chaparral E.B.F. Mooresbridge Stakes (Ire-III) in May at the Irish racecourse.
Both the trial and the Al Rashidiya are run at the distance of the $5-million Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I), a race to which Sharestan and several other entrants, including Godolphin's French group I winner Aesop's Fables and multiple group-placed City Style, are nominated.The race will be run on Dubai World Cup night March 31.
Aesop's Fables, also trained by bin Suroor, finished third to French group I winner Moonlight Cloud in the Prix du Palais-Royal (Fr-III) in June at Longchamp. He followed up with a victory in the one-mile Prix Jean Prat (Fr-I) in July at Chantilly before finishing second when stretching out a quarter-mile farther in the Prix Guillaume d'Ornano-Haras du Logis Saint-German (Fr-II) on Aug. 15 in his most recent start.
The 4-year-old Distorted Humor colt, who was trained in France by Andre Fabre, will make his first start in Dubai.
Meydan veteran City Style, trained by Mahmood Al Zarooni, is also aiming at a first stakes win. The 7-year-old City Zip gelding, runner-up to Musir in last year's Al Rashidiya, has seven wins from 21 career starts and has performed consistently in Dubai, winning twice at Nad al Sheba, three times at Meydan, and finishing third to Cityscape in last year's Dubai Duty Free. He will start for the first times since a ninth-place finish in the Coral Eclipse Stakes (Eng-I) last July at Sandown.
The 10-horse field for the Al Rashidiya also includes multiple English group winner Fanunalter, who will try to rebound from a seventh-place finish in the Longines Al Maktoum Challenge Round I (UAE-II) on Jan. 10; South African champion The Apache, who will be making his first start in a year and first start for trainer Mike de Kock; Meydan group winners Do It All and Derbaas; So Beautiful; and multiple Irish group winner Light Heavy.
Earlier on the card, South African sprint star Shea Shea tops a competitive field for the Dubal Excellence Trophy, a handicap at 1,000 meters (about five furlongs) on the turf. The 5-year-old gelding, a multiple group I winner who will be making his first start for de Kock, is by important South African stallion National Emblem, who died of colic at age 21 last week at Klawervlei Stud.
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