Godolphin has the two highest-rated runners for the $250,000 United Arab Emirates Two Thousand Guineas (UAE-III) Feb. 13—Long John and Paximadia—and both are well-experienced runners.
The pair is among three group winners, including French group III victor My Catch, in the 11-horse field for the 1,600-meter (about one-mile) test for Northern and Southern Hemisphere 3-year-olds on Meydan Racecourse's all-weather track. Of the trio, Long John is the only group I winner.
Being Australian-breds, Street Cry (IRE) gelding Long John and Paximadia, by Commands, are six months older than their opponents bred in the Northern Hemisphere, and thus will shoulder more weight in the race—131 pounds versus 121 pounds.
Previously trained in Australia by Peter Snowden for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum's Darley, Long John has a 5-0-2 record from eight career starts, including his win over group II winner Divine Calling in the 1,600-meter Beck Caulfield Guineas (Aus-I) Oct. 12. The third-place finisher was Shamus Award, who two weeks later at Moonee Valley pulled a stunning upset in the Sportingbet W. S. Cox Plate (Aus-I), Australia's weight-for-age championship, while Long John finished ninth of 14 runners, beaten seven lengths in his first test against older horses.
Long John has since been transferred to Charlie Appleby at Godolphin's Marmoom Stables in Dubai and makes his first start on the Tapeta surface at Meydan as does Paximadia.
Long John's first start for Appleby is expected to provide some valuable insights into the stable's new runner, he said.
"We will learn a lot about Long John, who shows little at home, but we were warned that would be the case as he was the same in Australia," Appleby said. "He won the group I Caulfield Guineas before contesting the Cox Plate, so his form is excellent. Hopefully he can show a similar level of form."
Also a former Snowden trainee in Australia, where he annexed half of his eight starts, progressive Paximadia owns successive wins in his two most recent starts: the Carbine Club Stakes (Aus-III) Nov. 2 at Flemington and the Sportingbet Sandown Guineas (Aus-II) Nov. 16 at Caulfield. The Commands colt is now with Saeed bin Suroor.
“Paximedia has done everything we have asked of him,” bin Suroor said. “His work has been very pleasing, he is steadily improving and I like him."
Sheikh Mohammed's son Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed al Maktoum enjoyed a victory at last week's Dubai World Cup Carnival meeting with Prince Bishop in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 (UAE-II). This week, he has two runners in the U.A.E. Guineas in Safety Check, an Irish-bred Dubawi colt, who was stakes-placed in England as a juvenile for Appleby, and Emirates Flyer, a British-bred Acclamation colt, who was second in the Solario Stakes (Eng-III) in August at Sandown for bin Suroor.
Most recently, Emirates Flyer defeated Safety Check by a half-length in a U.A.E. Guineas Trial, a 1,400-meter (about seven-furlong) race Jan. 16 at Meydan. Bin Suroor said the colt needs to bring his A game for the Guineas.
"Emirates Flyer won the trial well and this is the obvious next race for him," bin Suroor said. "He has come out of that win in good order but will need to step up again in this stronger contest."
My Catch was third in that race for former U.A.E. champion trainer Doug Watson. The Irish-bred Comacho colt, who was acquired last fall by Russian owners Valentin Bukhtoyarov and Evgeny Kappushev, won the Prix du Cabourg Jockey Club de Turquie (Fr-III) last summer at Deauville.
Mike de Kock has three for the race: South African group III-placed Journeyman and South African maiden winner Full Combat as well as English group II-placed Jallota.
Journeyman was ninth in the U.A.E. Guineas Trial and subsequently fifth in the Meydan Classic Trial Feb. 6. Full Combat was fifth in the U.A.E. Guineas Trial. Jallota, a creditable fourth in the Prix Morny (Fr-I) last summer at Deauville after a third in the July Stakes (Eng-II) at Newmarket, makes his Dubai debut and will try to halt a long winless drought.
The card, the Carnival's sixth meeting, includes two other group III races: $200,000 Firebreak Stakes and $200,000 Al Shindagha Sprint.
Two-time South African Horse of the Year Variety Club will try to extend an eight-race victory skein while making his first start in Dubai in the Firebreak, a 1,600-meter race on the road to the $1 million Godolphin Mile (UAE-II) on the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) undercard March 29.
The Al Shindagha Sprint, a key prep for the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-I) on World Cup night, drew a full field of 14, in addition to three also-eligible entrants. The 1,200-meter (about six-furlong) race is headed by speedsters Krypton Factor and Balmont Mast.
The Dubai Racing Club released the list of nominees for the eight Thoroughbred races on the Dubai World Cup program.
For the Dubai World Cup, the world's richest race, there were 341 nominees, including 30 from the United States, headed by Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) winner Mucho Macho Man . Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) victor Magician also was nominated.
The 19th renewal of the Meydan's marquee race will be held March 29. The close of the free nomination stage attracted entries from 15 countries.
More information on the Dubai World Cup Carnival, including entries, free past performance data, selections, videos, and more, is available at amwestentertainment.com. HRTV will broadcast the Feb. 13 card live, starting at 9:30 a.m. EST.