Dubai World Cup Notes – March 26, 2019

MUSIR winning in Dubai. Copyright Andrew Watkins

$6 million Dubai Turf (G1) sponsored by DP World

Almond Eye—The Japanese superstar stretched her legs over the turf course first thing this morning.

“We just wanted her to get acquainted with the track before we breeze her Wednesday,” trainer Sakae Kunieda said. “She has relaxed into her Dubai surroundings very well. The grass here is a bit long, but I think she will like it.”

Almond Eye will breeze Wednesday morning under regular rider Christophe Lemaire, who flew to Dubai early in order to ride the filly in her last major workout in preparation for the Dubai Turf sponsored by DP World (G1).

Deirdre—Deirdre cantered a lap and a half around the Meydan dirt track first thing this morning.

“Everything she has shown us lets us know she is very happy despite the long trip to Dubai,” said her work rider Yuta Komiyama. “I am glad that she is in really good form.”

The Harbinger mare will breeze Wednesday.

Dream Castle—Godolphin’s Dream Castle arrives for the 1800m turf feature on the back of three consecutive course and distance victories, most recently Super Saturday’s Group 1 Jebel Hatta.

His trainer, Saeed bin Suroor, won Saturday’s race with Benbatl last year, like Dream Castle victorious in both the Singspiel and Al Rashidiya, but only second in the Jebel Hatta.

“He worked very nicely on Saturday and has had a brilliant year already,” Bin Suroor said. “Obviously this is going to be a stronger race but he has risen to every challenge we have given him this year. Hopefully, he will be very competitive.”

I Can Fly—Trainer Aidan O’Brien reported I Can Fly arrived safely on Tuesday morning along with four stablemates.

“I Can Fly seems in good form,” O’Brien said. “She has come out of her prep win at Dundalk a few weeks ago quite well. It has been a while since she ran beyond a mile. We think she can run a good race.”

Lord Glitters—David O’Meara’s head lad Colin Bolger was aboard the grey as they turned out on Meydan’s turf course at 7:00 a.m.

“He got over on Thursday and I’m really pleased with how he travelled. He can be quite highly strung, but he has taken the journey over really well,” Bolger said. “We’ve been on the turf for the last two days and he might have a breeze on the grass on Thursday with Danny (Tudhope), who rides the horse on Saturday, in the saddle.”

Southern Legend—Ebullient trainer Caspar Fownes gave his challenger a tick of approval at Meydan on Tuesday morning, five days out from his gelding’s biggest test. Fownes has become something of a fixture at this meeting in recent years with Southern Legend to be the trainer’s 7th runner since his first foray in 2011. However, he has never had an acceptor in the Dubai Turf, with 2016 Dubai World Cup runner Gun Pit—last behind California Chrome—his only charge to tackle a race other than the two sprints before.

“It’s going to be a tough ask behind Almond Eye. I think the only view we might get of her is from behind,” he said trackside at Meydan on Tuesday morning. “But our boy is doing nicely, he looks as good as he ever does and he’s walking around with a bounce in his step. We’ve been here a few times before, but this is probably the best horse I’ve had here since Lucky Nine.”

Hong Kong’s champion jockey Zac Purton will ride at Meydan for just the second time when he is legged aboard Southern Legend.

Vivlos—Vivlos went for a spin on the dirt track early on this morning, hacking for one lap before cantering for another.

“She has been a bit stiff the past couple of days since arriving to Dubai, but today she felt really good and loose,” said assistant trainer and regular exercise rider Shinji Yasuda, “She has become relaxed and we were able to put in a good work today.”

She will breeze Wednesday in preparation for the race.

Without Parole – Royal Ascot winner Without Parole, whose seven-race roster puts him level with Almond Eye as the least experienced runners among the field for the Dubai Turf, has taken his first trip outside Europe in his stride, according to trainer John Gosden’s travelling head groom Tony Procter.

“He’s eating and drinking well, which are the best signs,” Procter said as he prepared to send his boss a video of the 4-year-old’s steady Tuesday canter around one circuit of the Meydan training track under regular work rider Maurizio Varju.

Without Parole arrived at the international quarantine barn on Saturday, and Procter added: “He’s done all his serious work at home, including a racecourse gallop at Chelmsford, which is what we always do when we come to Dubai. Run them off the plane is the usual schedule.”

Wootton—Having spent his 3-year-old career in the care of Alex Pantall in France, Wootton has since joined Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby and has had two starts at Meydan this year. After finishing fourth in the Zabeel Mile, the 4-year-old then took an honourable second behind Dream Castle in the Jebel Hatta (G1). Having raced at the Dubai World Cup Carnival twice, he has fitness on his side and enjoyed light exercise on the dirt track at Appleby’s Marmoom base this morning.

“He has some nice European form and we changed the style of his racing in that we stepped him up in trip to 1700m on his last outing, which was one of his career-best starts finishing second to Dream Castle,” Appleby said. “If he reproduces that form it will make him competitive, but what we like about the horse is that he gets into a nice rhythm in his races now so he is a simpler horse to ride compared to when he was a 3-year-old.”

Although beaten just over a length by Dream Castle on Super Saturday, Appleby is not fearful of the rematch.

“It is all about who turns up on the night,” Appleby added. “We went into Super Saturday on our A-Game and Dream Castle beat us, but he needs to turn up in the same form on World Cup night. If they both turn up in the same condition, then we have a length to find, but who knows what is going to happen.”

$6 million Longines Dubai Sheema Classic (G1)

Cheval Grand—Japan Cup winner of 2017 Cheval Grand was out on the dirt track first thing this morning, trotting down the back stretch, hacking around the far turn and ultimately cantering for half a lap under work rider …

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Rich Nilsen is a 19-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 of the NHC twice. A former executive with and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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