Dubai World Cup: Ready to kick up some dirt

Dubai - The $12 million Dubai World Cup celebrates its silver jubilee this Saturday.

By James Jose

Published: Fri 26 Mar 2021, 9:47 PM

Last updated: Mon 21 Feb 2022, 9:17 PM

The last bit of trackwork got done and dusted early on Friday morning and all that is left now is to kick up some dirt at Meydan.

The day, or rather the night, one of the most important nights in the world of horse racing, beckons as 14 top contenders from all around the globe, take to the starting gates of the iconic Meydan Racecourse.

And between gates to post will be the 2000 metres of dirt, about 10 furlongs, which they would have to tackle with tactical acumen and not to mention, precision, to land the biggest prize in horse racing.

The $12 million Dubai World Cup is so steeped in history and as the marquee event celebrates its silver jubilee on Saturday night, this year’s renewal will be one of the most open yet, in all of its 25 years of running.

The 14 runners have come from across the USA, Great Britain, Germany, Ireland, Japan and even as far as Uruguay and each and every one on this stellar cast are winners in their own right, with a combined 23 Group 1 or Grade 1 victories.

And the UAE too has a significant presence, and it goes without saying that winning in their own backyard would be the icing on the cake.

Godolphin will go in with a three-pronged attack and the big one among them is quite obviously multiple Group-winning American raider Mystic Guide, the favourite in the contest. The four-year-old Ghostzapper colt is saddled by Michael Stidham and is the mount of Luis Saez.

Mystic drew a favourable gate six and Stidham hoped for a clean break which could set him up nicely.

“The only important thing for me is going to be breaking and getting a clean break, putting himself in a comfortable spot early,” said Stidham.

“That is going to be the most important part. And then, I’d let Saez take over from there. He’s a very capable rider and one of the top rides in the United States, and I leave that to him,” he added.

And Stidham referenced Arrogate to illustrate his point. Arrogate missed the break and was last before conjuring a brilliant run to scythe through the field and win the 2017 edition.

“Certainly, the break is going to be important as we found out with horses like Arrogate (the 2017 winner) and that if you don’t break well, you are up against it,” Stidham said.

Meanwhile, Emirati handler Saeed bin Suroor will be eyeing a record 10th victory and a third win on the bounce after the special Thunder Snow won back-to-back in 2018 and 2019. The 54-year-old has an uncanny knack of winning it and will be pinning his hopes this time on Gifts Of Gold. Bin Suroor is already the most successful trainer and will be looking to put more daylight between him and the rest.

But the man, though, tempered the expectations. “Winning will be big but we will wait for Saturday,” said bin Suroor.

Bin Suroor too opined that it is a wide open race. “This year, it’s an open race. The horse is doing good as he showed in Saudi and we will try to win it for the third time. And if we can do it, it will be great for us,” bin Suroor said of Gifts Of Gold, who won the Red Sea Turf Handicap on Saudi Cup night last month.

Gifts Of Gold, who has drawn the widest stall 14, will be ridden by two-time Dubai World Cup-winning jockey Christophe Soumillon, who had prevailed with Thunder Snow.

Godolphin’s third runner is the Andre Fabre-trained Magny Cours, who will break from gate 12. The six-year-old Medaglia D’Oro gelding, did a slow canter during his trackwork on Friday morning.

"We are happy with him. He is handling the heat really well. It is quite late when we come out in the morning, but he has adapted well to the heat,” Richard Lambert, his travelling head lad, said.

Mystic Guide, the favourite in the contest. (Dubai Racing Club)
Mystic Guide, the favourite in the contest. (Dubai Racing Club)

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