Mendip, who found success in the opening round of the Maktoum Challenge last year, will bid to become the race’s first two-time winner when he faces 11 challengers in the $200,000 Al Maktoum Challenge-Round 1 Sponsored by Etisalat (UAE-III) Jan. 12. The race is the highlight of the second week of the 2012 Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan Racecourse.
Although he started out in the Godolphin colors, Mendip now races in the dark green silks of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed al Maktoum. Conditioned by Saeed bin Suroor, the 5-year-old son of Harlan's Holiday boasts a record of five wins from seven starts; four of those victories have come over Meydan’s all-weather Tapeta surface. In addition to the 2011 edition of this race, Mendip also captured the Burj Nahaar Sponsored by Emirates Airline (UAE-III). Frankie Dettori will once again be in the saddle.
Mendip could face some stiff competition from a pair of colts trained by Mike de Kock. The South African trainer, who annually ranks among the leading conditioners in Dubai, has entered both Master of Hounds and Musir.
Master of Hounds will be making his first start since being purchased by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum from Coolmore. The 4-year-old colt’s most recent start was a 10th-place finish to Ruler on Ice in the 2011 Belmont Stakes (gr. I). The son of Kingmambo does have a prior start over the Meydan surface, losing by a nose to Khawlah in the Al Naboodah Group UAE Derby (UAE-II) last March. Kevin Shea will be aboard.
De Kock has a second top challenger in Musir, a 6-year-old son of Redoute's Choice who won the 2010 UAE Derby. The bay horse has been in the money in five out of his six Dubai starts, and has earned close to $2.1 million. Musir captured the International Topkapi Trophy (Tur-IIT) in Istanbul last September in his most recent start. Regular rider Christophe Soumillon has the mount.
Wheeling back in a week will be Derbaas, who finished third to the talented filly Mahbooba in a nine-furlong turf contest in his seasonal debut. The 6-year-old horse by Seeking the Gold captured the Al Fahidi Fort Sponsored by Commercial Bank of Dubai (UAE-IIT) in 2011. In addition to that race, Derbaas notched two victories over the Tapeta main track last year. Richard Hills will ride.
$200,000 Al Maktoum Challenge-Round 1 Sponsored by Etisalat (UAE-III, race 6, 12:35 p.m. EST), 4 & up, 8 furlongs (Tapeta).
PP, Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Mendip (KY), L. Dettori, S. bin Suroor
2. Derbaas (KY), R. Hills, A. Al Raihe
3. Dance And Dance (Ire), J.P. Spencer, E. Vaughan
4. Musir (Aus), C. Soumillon, M. de Kock
5. Le Drakkar (Aus), A. Ajtebi, A. bin Huzaim
6. Escape Route (KY), R. Mullen, S. Seemar
7. Xin Xu Lin (Brz), M. Barzalona, M. Al Zarooni
8. Kavango (Ire), P. Cosgrave, M. bin Shafya
9. Secrecy (GB), K. Fallon, S. bin Suroor
10. Fanunalter (GB), R. Moore, M. Botti
11. Snaafy (KY), T. O’Shea, M. Al Muhairi
12. Master of Hounds (KY), K. Shea, M. de Kock
All carry 123 pounds.