The build up to Saturday’s Dubai World Cup night continued at Nad Al Sheba on Wednesday morning when several of the international challengers made their first appearances on the racetrack.
Among them were both of Hong Kong’s highly rated challengers VENGEANCE OF RAIN (David Ferraris) and BULLISH LUCK (Tony Cruz).
Vengeance of Rain, a multiple group I winner in Hong Kong who will be looking to add an International group I victory in the US$5 million Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I), sponsored by Nakheel, worked well on the turf, watched by Ferraris.
“He went very well in his work this morning," Ferraris. "Anthony (Delpech – his regular jockey) jumped him off at the 1,200-meter mark and breezed him over the last 700 meters.
“We galloped him at Sha Tin the day before he left, so I’m confident he’s fit and ready.”
Cruz, who saddles Bullish Luck in the US$6 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I), sponsored by Emirates Airline, in what will be the horse’s first ever run on a dirt surface, was not dismissive of his horse’s chance on Saturday.
Bullish Luck has already secured a victory outside Hong Kong, when landing the 2006 Yasuda Kinen (Jpn-I) at Tokyo racecourse in Japan.
Cruz said of his stable star: “I’m very happy with the horse. Cody Mo, who always rides the horse in his final piece of work, tells me that the horse is as good as he’s ever been. He traveled to Dubai much better than he did to anywhere else he’s gone to. “
If Bullish Luck is to succeed he will have to overcome, amongst others, the Kiaran McLaughlin-trained INVASOR, who never fails to impress work watchers with his powerful physique and sense of well-being as he goes through his daily routine canters. Wednesday was no different as Invasor eased around the main track as he has done all week under exercise rider Barry Downes.
Godolphin’s undefeated DISCREET CAT also has to be regarded as a favorite in the Dubai World Cup even though it will be his first try over 2,000 meters.
Announced as “the star of the show” at a special open house Godolphin hosted for the international media on Wednesday morning at the Al Quoz training centre, Discreet Cat turned in an easy 1 1/4-mile gallop.
“He has all the hallmarks of a great champion,” said Simon Crisford, Godolphin's racing manager. “We’re very hopeful he can maintain his unbeaten record.”
Jockey Frankie Dettori was asked if he believes Discreet Cat is as talented as 2000 Dubai World Cup winner Dubai Millennium. “It’s very unfair to compare them -- they’re both great champions,” Dettori said. “I’ll answer that question after Saturday and we see how he does.”
SIR PERCY, the Marcus Tregoning-trained 2006 Epsom Derby (Eng-I) winner who bids to return to winning ways in the Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I) after an interrupted second half of last season, cantered a lap of the main track before moving to the turf for another circuit under his race jockey Martin Dwyer.
Afterwards Dwyer said, “Sir Percy is in very good form. The most important thing is that he’s traveled out here and is relaxed in these surroundings. Some horses don’t do that when they come out from England, and that hurts their chances.”
South African trainer Herman Brown believes the outsider SUSHISAN could give Sir Percy and company something to worry about.
"He had travel sickness when he arrived and we didn't even think he would run in the Carnival," Brown said. "In his first run he got very tired. The improvement in his blood picture was good after that, though.
"He then won well over the 2000 meters and has continued to improve. He is working fantastically. He worked on Sunday morning and it was top, top work.
"It is the strongest race of the night," Brown concedes. "Any one of six horses could win and Sushisan is one of those."
Martin Dwyer was later on board MYSTICAL, the Indian challenger in the Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I), sponsored by Dubai Duty Free, who he worked on the turf course.
Having picked up the ride following the injury to Ryan Moore, who was twice successful on the horse here at this year’s Carnival, Dwyer said, “He’s a nice ride to have, and he felt good today.” The workout was watched by Mystical’s part owner, Zavaray Poonawalla.
“He’s a Mystical horse, by name and nature,” said Poonawalla. “He’s got a great attitude and always tries his best. You wish they were all like him!”
Godolphin will send out a pair of runners in both the Dubai Duty Free and the Dubai Sheema Classic, with BEST NAME and FORMAL DECREE carrying the famous royal blue silks in the former race and LAVEROCK and BEST ALIBI in the latter. All four cantered at Al Quoz on Wednesday morning.
Crisford described Best Name as “a very interesting horse. He can be a bit keen but he has a great turn of foot.” Of Formal Decree, he said: “He’s a very good horse, he’s got a great finishing kick.”
Regarding the stable’s runners in the Dubai Sheema Classic, Crisford said Best Alibi needed the run when sixth in the Dubai City of Gold at Nad al Sheba on March 1 and has improved since then.
French group I winner Laverock has the potential to become an important international traveler for Godolphin, with possible future goals including major races in Hong Kong and Singapore.
Godolphin also has high hopes for the stable’s three runners in the UAE Derby (UAE-II), although Crisford conceded that Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum’s Asiatic Boy has to be regarded as the clear favorite in that race.
American grade III winner DAY PASS was a bit disappointing when fourth to Asiatic Boy in the Bahri Al Bastakiya on March 1, which was run over the same 1,800-meter distance as the UAE Derby. “We knew he was a little short and too keen, but we still thought he would run better than that,” Crisford said.
The filly FOLK, who won the UAE One Thousand Guineas and UAE Oaks in smashing fashion after beginning her career in America, will be getting a 13-pound break in the weights from the top weighted males in the race.
“We need to find out how good she is,” Crisford said of the powerfully-built daughter of Quiet American. “We also feel she has a genuine chance to win.”
EU TAMBEN, easy winner of the Maktoum Challenge Round III, also is highly regarded by Godolphin. “He’s in good form and has the chance to run a big race,” said trainer Saeed bin Suroor.
Godolphin’s two runners in the Godolphin Mile (UAE-II) – KILLYBEGS and COURT MASTERPIECE – also galloped over the Tapeta surface on the Al Quoz track during Wednesday’s open house.