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DRN Commentary: Doubtful of Golden Shaheen change

Within the last week, the UK-based Racing Post and the USA’s Daily Racing Form have published stories pondering the possible shift of the Dubai Golden Shaheen from the dirt/all-weather surface of its past/present to grass.  Today, an article published in the Melbourne Herald Sun indicated that Anthony Cummings sprinter Turffontein is hoping for an invitation to the 2010 Dubai Golden Shaheen, which “is expected to be run on grass for the first time” at the 27 March Dubai World Cup meeting. 

DubaiRaceNight.com strongly believes that the 2010 Dubai Golden Shaheen will not be contested on grass, nor will it ever appear on grass.  Conversely, it is our opinion that the Dubai Racing Club will add a new race to the Dubai World Cup meeting in future years that will be similar to the Golden Shaheen, but run on grass. 

The international media has seemingly realized that Meydan is soon to be unveiled, and, oh yes, there is a 1,200 meters straightaway on the exterior grass course.  What some seem to forget is that the Dubai Racing Club has two well established, internationally recognized, group status preps for the Dubai Golden Shaheen on the all-weather Tapeta surface: the Al Shindagha Sprint (G3) and Mahab Al Shimaal (G3).  The 2009 winner of the Al Shindagha Sprint, Big City Man, later won the Golden Shaheen while Mahab Al Shimaal victor Gayego was second in the Godolphin Mile (G2) before becoming a Grade 1 winning sprinter in the US when taking the Ancient Title Stakes at Santa Anita.

While the Dubai International Racing Carnival has been used as a launching point to races on the Dubai World Cup meeting, a set of local preps for a logical new sprint stakes would be in order.  As it stands, only the Al Quoz Sprint (G3) stands as an established stake on the DIRC program and no additional turf sprint stakes have been added to the condition book for 2010.  Several American-based sprinters have acknowledged their intent to prepare for the first Tapeta-based Golden Shaheen.  The long-term planning for this established international Group 1 is there – as the first major international turf sprint, not so much.  Also lost in this shuffle is the most ignored fact: Nad Al Sheba HAD a 1,200 meters straight that was used on occasion in previous years at the Carnival. 

The stage is not set for a Golden Shaheen surface switch simply because of the new course at Meydan.  The Carnival is growing and so too will the Dubai World Cup meeting, most likely with a turf sprint and a stayers classic, as the DRC Gold Cup begins to grow towards some level of graded status.  Mourilyan, third home in the Emirates Melbourne Cup (G1) managed a second and third in two new stayers races from the 2009 Carnival, boosting the profile of such additions to the calendar.  It is much more realistic to expect additional stakes races to the Dubai World Cup meeting in future years, perhaps even 2011.  A switch to the 2010 offerings would be surprising to DubaiRaceNight.com.

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