FOR the last couple of years, French trainer Alain de Royer Dupre has left Meydan with at least one valuable prize in his pocket. In 2014, Dolniya (FR) was an easy winner of the Group 1 Longines Dubai Sheema Classic and last year Vazirabad (FR), who sports the same colours as the filly, took the honours in the Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup.

This year, he is counting on Zarak (FR) and Vazirabad, who are both owned by the Aga Khan, to continue his winning streak on Dubai World Cup night.

Last year, Vazirabad made his seasonal reappearance in the Dubai Gold Cup, but this time the now five-year-old son of Manduro shipped early for a prep run in the Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy.

A runner-up on that occasion, his trainer explained: “Last year Vazirabad had to battle to win. It was a hard race, as he hadn’t had a prep race. So this year we thought it better to bring him over early and give him a run. He doesn’t do much in the morning. Since we have had him, we have always known that he is better on his second or third start.”

Royer Dupre added: “Vazirabad is still the same horse as last year, just a year older. I came over last week to watch him and Zarak work. In fact, both horses did their last bit of serious work last Tuesday. I took them to work on the grass on the training track, as the track is slightly softer than the track at Meydan.

“Zarak worked with a lead horse who came from France. He worked well and quickened well and I’m very happy with him. He wasn’t a hundred per cent fit for his last race, which he won well. And he has come on from that.

“As to Vazirabad, he did a good canter, but didn’t need to work like Zarak, as he only ran four weeks ago. From now on, they are just doing some light exercise.”

If Vazirabad is well used to the atmosphere in Dubai, for the four-year-old Zarak, it is a new experience as he gears up for the Dubai Turf sponsored by DP World.  An impressive winner on his first start in the Group 3 Dubai Millennium Stakes Sponsored by Wheels, he seems well adapted to the climate and his new surroundings and his trainer confirmed: “He is in good form and ready for the race. But it is going to be tough, there are some good horses in there.”

Zarak was one of France’s top three-year-olds last year. In fact, only Almanzor got the better of him in the French Derby. Towards the end of the season, Zarak, who is out of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Zarkava, lost his form a bit and his trainer explained: “This happens. He ran well against Almanzor and then he just didn’t fire. But he won his prep race well here, in fact, very well.

“He has grown quite a bit since last year and while the race is tough, with some serious horses like last year’s Prix Jacques Le Marois winner Ribchester (IRE), I’m hopeful he will run well. What is important for us is that the horse is well.”

Royer Dupre is rarely exuberant before a big race, but one senses that he would be very disappointed if his horses did not run well on Saturday. -Dubai Racing Media.

Photo: Zarak and his work rider, both in a fighting mood. (Neville Hopwood).