Monday was the first day of our on-site coverage at Meydan, with a host of activity right from the start. After arriving Sunday evening and enduring a two-hour queue at passport control, we weren’t on one of the early busses out to Meydan, and as such, missed CALIFORNIA CHROME, who was out bright and early as is his normal campaign in the U.S.
The action happens fast and furious on days like this, and you often need your head on a swivel to keep track of it all. Too much focusing on one work and you can easily miss some more, so excuse many of our brief comments.
The gates got rolling this morning around 6am when Mike de Kock sent some of his Dubai World Cup night chances out on the grass, led by the day’s top worker, UAE Derby candidate MUBTAAHIJ, who went an easy and flawless gallop with Johnny Geroudis aboard. De Kock later told us that he works lazily on his own. If you put another horse with him, the son of Dubawi, one of the lead choices in the Derby, will get a bit too aggressive. It was a strong gallop under Geroudis and it seems this guy has it all going his way at the moment.
De Kock’s Dubai Gold Cup chances, ALMOONQITH and STAR EMPIRE, worked in tandem over 1,600 meters of the grass, and were soon followed by another Gold Cup chance MUSHREQ and Godolphin Mile hope PYLON.
America’s hope in the Dubai Kahayla Classic VALIANT BOY was particularly striking to many. One seasoned horsemen asserted: “How could he lose, he looks like a Thoroughbred.” This will be the first local start for top US purebred, owned by Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Joel Rosario interestingly has the ride. A Dubai World Cup winner, it is likely one of the first times he will have been on a purebred in some time.
Wesley Ward’s GREEN MASK, a one-time winner on grass, put in a solid piece of work on the turf course in advance of the Al Quoz Sprint. We missed most of it, but caught the last bit and he seems to have acclimated well. Fellow American DISTINCTIV PASSION was not seen on course, a potential cause for some concern. We have no other report on the speedster who is almost assured to lead in the early stages, at the least, but will follow the story if one develops.
Sticking with the Americans, we caught MSHAWISH out for a hearty two-lap gallop on the dirt and looking in fine form. His in-race manners have been troubling of late, with some superb Javier Castellano handling keeping him as in-check as possible. It’s worked well, but he will get a new pilot in Frankie Dettori for the Dubai Turf.
We have to admit that LEA, one of our main fancies for the World Cup, was indeed an eye-catcher. Riley Mott, son and assistant to dad Bill, was plenty pleased with what he saw from the 2014 Donn Handicap winner and 2015 second.
Eddie Kenneally has one win in the UAE from one start, the 2007 Dubai Golden Shaheen with Kelly’s Landing, and is back with another leading chance in BRADESTER, another who didn’t look amiss this morning. SALUTOS AMIGOS was also out with trainer David Jacobson looking on while SECRET CIRCLE required a few cracks of the whip to keep focused getting out and about.
The Japanese contingent arrived on course around 6:50 A.M with the UAE Derby triad of TAP THAT, GOLDEN BAROWS, and DEAR DOMUS with Sheema Classic contender HARP STAR nearby with her customary full hood. Both HOKKO TARUMAE and EPIPHANEIA took spins of the dirt at the same time.
Trainer David Simcock oversaw TRADE STORM, a distant second in the Jebel Hatta, the final Dubai Turf prep, along with Sheema Classic longshot SHEIKHZAYEDROAD, also second in that race’s final prep, the Dubai City of Gold.
The French contingent of SOLOW, CLADOCERA, and DOLNIYA each went for gate schooling before their strolls of the grass course.
The news of the day that shocked a bit was when TAMARKUZ was drawn on the rail for the Godolphin Mile in a field of sixteen. This was his third draw on the rail in his last four starts, the other coming gate two. Other solid local challengers LAYL and SURFER were each drawn in gates 14 and 16, dulling their prospects, substantially.
Hong Kong’s seven-fold group are due to appear on Tuesday. Should you have questions about horses we saw in the morning, feel free to ask via Twitter.
It seems the group one races will all be drawn on Wednesday at an official ceremony at Meydan, and after that, let the real games begin.