Maktoum Challenge Kicks Off Dubai Carnival
Photo: Dubai Racing Club/Andrew Watkins
Last year's First Round Maktoum Challenge winner Barbecue Eddie, returns for this year's running.
The countdown to the world's richest racethe $10 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I)begins Jan. 9 with the first of 10 meetings of the Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan Racecourse.
Eighteen internationally recognized group races span the Carnival, which includes a Super Saturday of Dubai World Cup preps on March 8, ahead the season-ending Dubai World Cup March 29. 
The Dubai World Cup program of eight Thoroughbred stakes is worth combined purses of $27.25 million.
For the fifth consecutive year, Kentucky-based AmWest Entertainment will deliver the Carnival and the Dubai World Cup program for wagering in North and South America. Detailed information, including past performances, selections from handicapper Pat Cummings, and post-race analysis using exclusive Trackus reports, is available at
HRTV will broadcast live coverage the first Carnival meeting, beginning at 9:30 a.m. EST.
At least 14 nations will be represented by runners throughout the Carnival and more than two dozen group I winners are already on the grounds.
A number of the world's top trainers will send runners, including France's Andre Fabre and Mikel Delzangles, Germany's Peter Schiergen, Ireland's Michael Halford, Edward Lynam, Ger Lyons, and David Wachman, South Africa's Mike de Kock, and Great Britain's Andrew Balding, Marco Botti, Mick Channon, William Haggas, Charlie Hills, and Jeremy Noseda, as well as United States-based Seth Benzel.
Offering combined purses of $915,000, the first meeting features a six-race program anchored by the first round of the $250,000 Al Maktoum Challenge (UAE-II). The three-round series is a springboard to the Dubai World Cup. 
The Jan. 9 meeting is sponsored by luxury Swiss watchmaker Longines, the Carnival's official timekeeper.
The 1,600-meter (about one-mile) Maktoum Challenge on the all-weather Tapeta track attracted 10 entrants, including Brendan Brackan, the field's highest-rated runner, and last year's winner Barbecue Eddie, a Carnival fan favorite.
Trained by Doug Watson for Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Barbecue Eddie could become the first horse win the race twice.
The Maryland-bred Stormy Atlantic   gelding comes in off fifth-place finish in a conditions races Dec. 19 at Meydan. He was having is first outing since an unplaced finish in the Godolphin Mile (UAE-II) March 30.
Barbecue Eddie will start from the far outside post in the 10-horse field, and Watson is hopeful of a good performance.
“He is in great form at home and has certainly improved from his one run this season, which he needed badly,” he said. “He is now 10 and owes us nothing, but we hope he will run a big race, despite the widest draw.”
Anamoine Ltd.'s Brendan Brackan won a one-mile handicap at the Galway Festival in July and took the Solonaway Stakes (Ire-III) at the same distance in September at the Curragh. The 5-year-old Big Bad Bob gelding is trained by Ger Lyons.
Godolphin Racing is double-handed with English group II winner Steeler, a Raven's Pass colt who will be starting for the first time in 437 days since finishing third in the 2012 Racing Post Trophy (Eng-I), and 2013 United Arab Emirates Oak (UAE-III) winner Shuruq, an Elusive Quality   filly. 
Last season's leading trainer Saeed bin Suroor is bidding for an eighth win in the race with Shuruq, is the only filly entered.
"She won the UAE Oaks last year having been second in the (United Arab Emirates) One Thousand Guineas, so the surface is ideal and trip is perfect for her first run back (at Meydan)," he said "She looks great and has been working well.
"She was a bit disappointing over the summer and has to take on the colts here, but we have to be hopeful judged on her home gallops."
South African trainer Mike de Kock will send out two runners: Coolmore and partner's former Kentucky Derby (gr. I) contender Daddy Long Legs enters off a fifth in a one-mile race at Newmarket Nov. 2. He will bid to halt a seven-race winless stretch dating from his victory in the 2012 United Arab Emirates Derby (UAE-II). Rerouted, a two-time winner at last year's Carnival, has not started in 283 days since finishing sixth in the Godolphin Mile. 
Also carded is the listed $150,000 Singspiel Stakes, which will be run for the first time. The 1,800-meter race is a prep for the $200,000 Al Rashidiya (UAE-II) at the same distance Jan. 30. 
The highest rated runner in the 12-horse field is de Kock's 2013 Al Fahidi Fort (UAE-II) winner Mushreq, who will race for the first time since subsequently finishing tenth in the Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I) on last year's Dubai World Cup program.
The Carnival continues with meetings on Jan. 16, 23, and 30; Feb. 6, 13, 20, and 27; and March 1 and 8 before culminating with the Dubai World Cup card March 29.
Dubai World Cup Carnival Stakes Schedule
Thursday, Jan. 9
$250,000 Al Maktoum Challenge-Round 1 (UAE-II)
1,600 meters (about one mile), Tapeta
$150,000 Singspiel Stakes (Listed)
1,800 meters (about 1 1/8 miles), turf
Thursday, Jan. 16
$150,000 Dubawi Stakes (Listed)
1,200 meters (about six furlongs), Tapeta
$75,000 UAE 1,000 Guineas Trial
3-year-old fillies, 1,400 meters (about seven furlongs), Tapeta
$75,000 UAE 2000 Guineas Trial
3-year-old colts & geldings, 1,400 meters (about seven furlongs), Tapeta
Thursday, Jan. 23
$250,000 Al Fahidi Fort (UAE-II)
1,400 meters (about seven furlongs), turf 
Thursday, Jan. 30
$200,000 Al Rashidiya (UAE-II)
1,800 meters (about 1 1/8 miles), turf
$200,000 Cape Verde (UAE-II)
Fillies and mares, 1,600 meters (about one mile), turf
Thursday, Feb. 6 
$250,000 Al Maktoum Challenge-Round 2 (UAE-II)
1,900 meters (1 3/16 miles), Tapeta
$250,000 UAE 1,000 Guineas (Listed)
3-year-old fillies, 1,600 meters (about one mile), Tapeta
$75,000 Meydan Classic Trial
3-year-olds, 1,400 meters (about seven furlongs), turf
Thursday, Feb. 13
$200,000 Al Shindagha Sprint (UAE-GIII)
1,200 meters (about six furlongs), Tapeta
$250,000 UAE 2,000 Guineas (UAE-III)
3-year-olds, 1,600 meters (about one mile), Tapeta
$200,000 Firebreak Stakes (UAE-III)
1,600 meters (about one mile), Tapeta
Thursday, Feb. 20
$200,000 Balanchine (UAE-II)
Fillies and mares, 1,800 meters (about 1 1/8 miles), turf
$200,000 Dubai Millennium Stakes (Listed)
2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles, turf
Thursday, Feb. 27
$250,000 UAE Oaks (UAE-III)
Three-year-old fillies, 1,900 meters (about 1 3/16 miles), Tapeta
$250,000 Zabeel Mile (UAE-II)
1,600 meters (about one mile), turf
$125,000 Meydan Classic (Listed)
3-year-olds, 1,600 meters (about one mile), turf
Saturday, March 1
$200,000 Nad Al Sheba Trophy (UAE-III)
2,800 meters (about 1 3/4 miles), turf
Super Saturday
March 8
$400,000 Al Maktoum Challenge-Round III (UAE-I)
2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles), Tapeta
$300,000 Jebel Hatta (UAE-I)
1,800 meters (about 1 1/8 miles, turf
$250,000 Dubai City of Gold (UAE-II)
About 2,400 meters (about 1 1/2 miles), turf
$200,000 Mahab Al Shimaal (UAE-III)
1,200 meters (about six furlongs), Tapeta
$200,000 Burj Nahaar (UAE-III)
1,600 meters (about one mile), Tapeta
$250,000 Al Bastakiya (Listed)
Three-year-olds, 1,900 meters (about 1 3/16 miles), Tapeta
$175,000 Meydan Sprint (UAE-III)
1,000 meters (about five furlongs), turf
Dubai World Cup night
Saturday, March 29, 
$10,000,000 Dubai World Cup (UAE-I)
2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles), Tapeta
$5,000,000 Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I)
2,400 meters (about 1 1/2 miles), turf
$5,000,000 Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I)
1,800 meters (about 1 1/8 miles), turf
$2,000,000 Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-I)
1,200 meters (about six furlongs), Tapeta
$2,000,000 UAE Derby (UAE-I)
1,900 meters (about 1 3/16 miles), Tapeta
$1,000,000 Godolphin Mile (UAE-II)
1,600 meters (about one mile), Tapeta
$1,000,000 Al Quoz Sprint (UAE-I)
1,200 meters (about six furlongs), turf
$1,000,000 Dubai Gold Cup (UAE-II)
3,200 meters (about two miles), turf 

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