The fifth meeting of the 2021 Dubai World Cup Carnival (DWCC) at Meydan on Thursday evening is a quality seven races, all sponsored by Pillar Partners Al Tayer Motors, officially highlighted by the Group 2 Zabeel Mile, but also featuring the Group 2 Balanchine, Group 2 Meydan Sprint and Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint, not to mention the second fillies’ Classic of the season, the Group 3 UAE Oaks.
Group 2 $163,000 Zabeel Mile (1600m T)
Eleven have been declared for what appears a wide open renewal of the 1600m Group 2 Zabeel Mile sponsored by Al Tayer Motors with four Godolphin runners all holding strong claims.
Charlie Appleby is seeking a third consecutive win in the turf feature and has a trio of chances this year, stable jockey William Buick opting to ride carnival regular D’Bai, runner-up in the 1400m Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort, a race he won in 2019, on his reappearance.
Mickael Barzalona rides Appleby’s Velorum, well beaten in that Al Fahidi Fort with James Doyle aboard the trainer’s third runner, Art Du Val, fourth in the 1800m Singspiel Stakes on his one previous outing this year.
Appleby said: “D’Bai ran a very good race in the Al Fahidi Fort and the return to 1600m is not a concern as he won over the trip as a young horse. We think the trip will suit him at this stage of his career.
“The 1800m looked slightly too far for Art Du Val in the Singspiel, so the drop back 200m should be in his favour.
“Velorum needed the comeback run in the Al Fahidi Fort and has improved from it. We think he can be competitive at this.”
Land Of Legends won the Al Fahidi Fort for fellow Godolphin trainer, Saeed Bin Suroor who relies on Bedouin’s Story in this. The 6-year-old and Frankie Dettori, again in the saddle, won a handicap over this 1600m, three weeks ago and Bin Suroor said: “He won nicely last time with a powerful finish under a great ride from Frankie Dettori, so conditions obviously suit.
“This is a big step up in class, but we are looking forward to seeing how he copes with it.”
Group 2 $163,000 Balanchine (1800m T)
The main support race and restricted to fillies and mares, the 1800m Group 2 Balanchine sponsored by Range Rover has been won by Godolphin, Charlie Appleby and William Buick in each of the last two years and they seek the hat-trick with Althiqa.
Under a penalty, she will actually seek to emulate both 2019 heroine Poetic Charm and last year’s winner, Magic Lily, by adding this prize to the 1600m Group 2 Cape Verdi tiara she won three weeks ago.
Appleby said: “We had slight doubts about the 1600m before the Cape Verdi, but she saw it out well. She now has an extra 200m, under a penalty, so that is a new question, but she is in great form.
Stable companion, Summer Romance, was only fifth in the Cape Verdi and Appleby added: “That was a bit disappointing from Summer Romance in the Cape Verdi, but she has worked well since and we will race her in a hood. The trip should suit her.”
Also for Godolphin, Saeed bin Suroor duo Dubai Love, the choice of Frankie Dettori, and Last Look were third and eighth respectively in the Cape Verdi.
Bin Suroor said: “Dubai Love is a tough filly with a touch of class as she displayed winning last year’s UAE 1000 Guineas. The 1800m should really suit her and she is in great form.
“Last Look is a full-sister to Farhh and from a family that improves with age, so this step up in trip looks in her favour.”
For Britain and Roger Varian, Stylistique was runner-up in the Cape Verdi and the extra 200m looks certain to suit her and the 2020 UAE Oaks heroine, Down On Da Bayou, makes her seasonal and turf debut for Salem bin Ghadayer.
The trainer said: “Obviously the turf is an unknown, but she gallops nicely on it, so it should not be an issue.
“She has been off a long time, so this is the first step towards, we hope, a Godolphin Mile campaign.”
Group 2 $163,000 Meydan Sprint (1000m T)
This 1000m turf Group 2 Meydan Sprint sponsored by Land Rover was won last year by Waady, saddled by Doug Watson for Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum and back to defend his crown with Jim Crowley again in the saddle.
Watson said: “He ran very well on his dirt comeback when second in the Dubawi Stakes and this is the obvious next target. He is in great form and should run a big race.”
Second last year was Equilateral, again in opposition for Charlie Hills and arriving here, as was the case in 2020, having won the Dubai Dash over the same course and distance.
However, Frankie Dettori, aboard for that success a month ago, switches to A’Ali for Simon Crisford and a 1000m Group Two winner on The Curragh last July, a victory for which he is penalised here.
Third in the Dubai Dash was Godolphin’s Lazuli, the mount of William Buick for Charlie Appleby and reported in fine form by his trainer who said: “We were delighted with that comeback first run of the year and he needed it, so has improved. This looks competitive and should be a great race between some top sprinters.”
Group 3 $125,000 UAE Oaks (3-year-old fillies, 1900m D)
The second fillies’ Classic of the season, the Group 3 UAE Oaks sponsored by New Jaguar F-Type, has attracted a field of just seven, including Doug Watson duo Mnasek and Super Chianti, second and third respectively in the UAE 1000 Guineas.
That 1600m fillies’ crown was won by Saeed bin Suroor for Godolphin with Soft Whisper who also won the 1400m trial when chased home by stable companion Last Sunset. The latter has since filled the same runner-up berth, over 1400m on turf, in the Meydan Classic Trial and looks to go one better here in a race the trainer has already won 10 times.
Bin Suroor said: “The step up to 1900m should really suit her and she ran well on dirt in the trial for the UAE 1000 Guineas, so we have no qualms about the surface.”
Group 3 $130,000 Al Shindagha Sprint (1200m D)
The final race on a cracking card, the Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint sponsored by New Land Rover Defender was won last year by Gladiator King for Satish Seemar who is joined in the 2021 renewal by stablemates Bochart and Behavioral Bias.
Assistant trainer, Bhupat Seemar, said: “Gladiator King has a good draw and should be spot on after running well for a long way on his comeback.
“Bochart had a bad draw last time, but a much better gate this time and a fast race will suit Behavioral Bias who likes to stay on late.
“It is nice to have three good chances in a big race like this at the carnival.”
Salem bin Ghadayer saddles local debutant The Perfect Crown as well as Important Mission, the choice of Mickael Barzalona.
Bin Ghadayer said: “We have only had The Perfect Crown about three weeks, so this is a learning mission with him whereas we know conditions suit The Important Mission.”
For Doug Watson, Al Tariq won the recent 1000m Listed Jebel Ali Sprint and the trainer said: “That was very rewarding at Jebel Ali and this is the obvious next target. We think he can at least be competitive in a strong renewal.”