Yard-Arm, Cherry Mix Battle in World Cup Preview

(from Dubai International Racing Carnival release)
Yard-Arm and Cherry Mix, two of the leading contenders for this year's $6 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) on March 26, go head-to-head during the Dubai International Racing Carnival's meeting on March 5.

Yard-Arm and Cherry Mix line up in the third round of the $300,000 Al Maktoum Challenge (UAE-II) over 2,000 meters at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse.

Five-time group I winner and South Africa's Horse of the Year Yard-Arm will be trainer Mike de Kock's Dubai World Cup hope. His impressive win in the Al Fahidi Fort (UAE-III) on the turf just over three weeks ago suggests he will be difficult to beat on Saturday.

This will be Yard-Arm's first run on dirt, but the 5-year-old's action suggests it will not cause too many problems.

Run over the Dubai World Cup course and distance, the third round of the Al Maktoum Challenge has proved to be a useful pointer for the world's richest race. Prior to their World Cup wins Street Cry and Dubai Millennium have won this leg of the challenge. Last year's winner, de Kock's Victory Moon, went on to finish third behind Pleasantly Perfect in the big race.

Cherry Mix, runner-up to Bago in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I), is having his first run for Godolphin. Stable jockey Frankie Dettori takes the ride. The son of Linamix will also be trying dirt for the first time in his career but he does have a strong dirt pedigree on his dam's side.

One time Kentucky Derby (gr.I) hope Ruler's Court, now trained by Ismail Mohammed and the mount of Kerrin McEvoy, missed the whole of his 3-year-old season due to injury. The 4-year-old has not raced since October 2003 when winning the Norfolk Stakes (gr. II) by an impressive 14 lengths.

De Kock's top class Greys Inn looks to have a great chance in the $200,000 AATI Dubai City of Gold (UAE-III) run over the Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I) trip of 2,400 meters on the turf.

Greys Inn, who was conceived in New Zealand and born in Kentucky, is the winner of the Durban July (SAF-I), the South African Derby (SAF-I) and the South African Classic (SAF-I) and is ideally suited by the trip. The son of Zabeel finished fourth to Yard-Arm in the second round of the Al Maktoum Challenge, when running on well at the end to be beaten just under two lengths.

Mark Johnston runs his Gran Criterium (Ity-I) winner Pearl of Love, who has been haunted by injuries and off the track since finishing down the field in the St James's Palace Stakes (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot in June. Kevin Darley takes the ride.

Conroy, trained by Aditiyan Selvaratnam, attempts to win the 1,200 meter $200,000 Ferrari Mahab al Shimaal (UAE-III) for an incredible fourth consecutive time. The 6-year-old reversed the placings on the Al Shindagha Sprint (Listed) winner Estimraar last time when beating him by over three lengths as the pair face each other once again.

Out to spoil the Conroy party are Candidato Roy and Hinterland, both trained by de Kock. Marwing partners Candidato Roy who has impressive South African form, though he finished four lengths behind Conroy on his first Nad Al Sheba run.

Hinterland, a group I winner in South Africa, has been racing recently, with success in Mauritius with his last win coming in October over 1,600 meters.

Last year's Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I) winner Right Approach, when dead-heating with Paolini, begins his title defence with a prep run in the $250,000 Bulgari Jebel Hatta (UAE-II) over the Dubai Duty Free trip of 1,777 meters on the turf.

The de Kock trained Right Approach has been off the track since finishing fifth in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (Eng-I) in April. De Kock has a great record in this race having won the last two runnings with Surveyor and Ipi Tombe, who went on to victory in the Dubai Duty Free (Uae-I).

Others in the race include the Marcus Tregoning-trained Select Stakes (gr.III) winner Alkaadhem, Robbie Osborne's Latino Magic and Godolphin's Tashkandi.