The first of the Dubai World Cup contenders stepped out at Meydan on the 4th of February when the Kieran McLaughlin trained Frosted (USA) lined up in the US$250,000, Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 over 1900m.
Ridden by William Buick the Wood Memorial winner and runner up to American Pharoah (USA) in the Belmont Stakes, was in a different league, as he left the field behind to win comfortably by five lengths. A former UAE Champion Trainer, McLaughlin, who saddled Invasor to victory in the 2007 Dubai World Cup, appears to have a strong contender in Frosted for this year’s US$10 million Dubai World Cup, the world’s richest race.
Buick and Frosted also broke the track record in the process. “I am delighted with that,” said McLaughlin. “William gave him a great ride and with Sheikh Mohammed here to witness the win makes it extra special. Obviously the Dubai World Cup is the target and we had planned to run on Super Saturday as well but he has won so well tonight we may just wait for the big night.”
Another World Cup hopeful, the Mike de Kock trained Mubtaahij (IRE), winner of the 2015 UAE Derby, lined up in the US$200,000 Gr 3 Firebreak Stakes over 1600m on dirt.
It was Mubtaahij’s first start after a 243-day rest and the colt finished 5th, 4.25 lengths behind Confrontation (USA), another McLaughlin runner. De Kock, who was very clear pre-race that Mubtaahij was only 80% fit, expressed his satisfaction with the run. “All I can say is that Mubtaahij is being prepared for the Dubai World Cup, a race I believe he can win. What happens between now and 26 March is irrelevant!”
The sixth meeting of the 2016 Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan Racecourse a week later was highlighted by the 1200m Group 3 Al Shindgha Sprint, one of three dirt features on the card.
The Hong Kong invader Rich Tapestry led virtually the whole way under Gerald Mosse in a race that Godolphin’s Marking, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, parted company with jockey, James Doyle, as the gates opened.
Muarrab, with Paul Hanagan riding for HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, tried to throw down a challenge throughout most of the straight but had to settle for second.
Reynaldothewizard, winner of this race last year, ran on to take third without ever being a threat to the first two.
It was a second Dubai victory for Rich Tapestry, winner of the Group 3 Mahab Al Shimaal on Super Saturday in 2014, beating Reynaldothewizard in that contest.
Rich Tapestry was second in that year’s Group 1 Golden Shaheen on Dubai World Cup night and last year returned for a third place effort.
Trained by Michael Chang, the 8-year-old with Gerald Mosse in the saddle made light work of what appeared a bad draw in eight.
Trainer Doug Watson’s good Carnival continued as he landed his first local Classic victory with the impressive, 13-length victory by Polar River in the UAE 1000 Guineas, a Listed contest.
Having her third career start, all on dirt, she was staying on strongly at the end of the 1600m trip here and, on this evidence, will be very hard to beat in the UAE Oaks.
Last year’s Dubai World Cup runner up, the Art Sherman trained California Chrome (USA), is in Dubai with connections reporting that he is likely to run in a 2000m Handicap on the 25th of February, after Sherman declared that he would prefer two prep races for the colt prior to his running in the Dubai World Cup on the 26th of March.