Trackwork Notes from the team of journalists with Dubai Racing Club, with updates on and build -up to all nine races to be held Dubai World Cup Day at Meydan Racecourse.
Group 1 US$10m Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates Airline – 2000m (Dirt)
Gun Runner (USA) — Continues to impress in the mornings for trainer Steve Asmussen. Left the quarantine facility and arrived at the main track at 5.05 am. He went on to gallop one circuit under exercise rider Carlos Rosas and then walked went back to his barn.
Assistant trainer Scott Blasi, on horseback, escorted him to and from the racetrack.
Gold Dream (JPN) – Joao Moreira rode the colt for a light canter around the main track and he was schooled in the gate. Trainer Osamu Hirata said: “We don’t want him to run too far back in the Dubai World Cup, so we want him just off the pace.”
Moreira said: “He is in good shape and is 100 per cent fit. If the horse is not in good form, he cannot compete against the American horses in this tough race. The horses in front have more of an advantage over this dirt course so he will need to run closer to the leaders than what he usually does in Japan. I hope he can bring his best.”
Apollo Kentucky (USA) – Walked to the track and did some schooling before going back to the quarantine area. Assistant trainer Jun Tomioka said: “He is in good form. He really didn’t need any real serious work this week.”
Arrogate (USA) – Made his way to the main track at 5am.
“We try to keep him as quiet as we can. He knows that, with the way we’ve been bringing him along, that he’s getting close to a race, and he thought maybe he was going to work today,” trainer Bob Baffert said.
“If he could talk to me and tell me, ‘Bob you might want to do this, it would be a lot of help,’ that would be one thing, but he can’t, so it’s up to me and my team, Jimmy and Dana Barnes, who helped me get this horse here.”
Looking forward to Saturday’s Dubai World Cup, Baffert added: “It’s a huge challenge; I don’t think it’s going to be easy. There are some really nice horses here, and you’ve got horses from Japan and everywhere and you just don’t know who is going to do what in the race. There is a lot of speed and all that, but (the winner will be) whoever shows up that night.
“I do believe I have the best horse. My job is to make sure that I give him that chance (to win). The pressure comes from making sure that I do everything in my will to let him be at the top of his game.”
Also watching Arrogate train on Friday were Juddmonte’s American and European racing managers, Garrett O’Rourke and Teddy Grimthorpe, respectively.
“This is the reason we come into this sport – these are the great moments. To see him looking so good and to see him standing there with that sort of look of eagles – isn’t this exciting? It really is,” Grimthorpe said.
Hoppertunity (USA)— Galloped energetically around the main track under the direction of exercise rider Dana Barnes.
“He really seemed to be having fun,” said Barnes’s husband, Jimmy, who oversaw the move after 7am for trainer Bob Baffert.
“He’s an older horse now and he’s shipped all over the place,” Baffert said of the six-year-old. “For him to come here, he thinks he’s going to camp. He really enjoys it.”
“You never know,” Baffert mused about the possibility that Hoppertunity could upset his stablemate Arrogate. “Hoppertunity still has to move up about three or four lengths (to threaten Arrogate). But I really think he’s going to be competitive if he gets his trip.”
Keen Ice (USA) — Went out for a smooth, leisurely gallop around the main track before the 7am training session.
“He went around there nice and easy. I tried to keep him as relaxed as possible so he could save all his energy for tomorrow,” said exercise rider Nick Bush.
“He came back (to the quarantine barn area) rearing, he was so fresh,” said Bush.
Trainer Todd Pletcher’s assistant Ginny DePasquale handled the three-horse contingent, and she said on Friday morning that the trio continue to appear in outstanding health.
“I think happy horses run well and they’re all happy, so we’re looking forward to tomorrow night,” DePasquale said.
Neolithic (USA)—Galloped around 5am to get more experience with the racetrack while the floodlights were on, as they will be on Saturday evening.
“He is feeling great and looking great,” said exercise rider Nick Bush. “The lights won’t bother him tomorrow and I think he’s going to run well.”
Neolithic galloped about 2200m, following the same pattern that Pletcher has designed for all three of his runners on each day this week.
Awardee (JPN) and Lani (USA) – Cantered for two laps on the main track.
Trainer Mikio Matsunaga said: “I am so happy with the way the two horses have been coming along. They are pretty fit. As we had some discussions with the stewards, and we appreciate their willingness to work with us on dealing with Lani’s temperament, he will leave the saddling area earlier than the others, going to the main track through the unsaddling area. He will not walk in the paddock.”
Group 1 US$6m Dubai Turf sponsored by DP World, 1800m (Turf)
Zarak (FR) – Followed lead horse and stable companion Vazirabad onto the main track and cantered well behind the lead horse and his stablemate. His trainer, Alain de Royer-Dupre, watched them canter once round the track and said: “Everything is fine. They did their usual canter. The rain makes no difference to us. The prep has gone smoothly and now we just wait for the race.”
Ribchester (IRE) continued to figure among the early-risers in the international stables, taking to the main dirt track shortly after 5am.
As they have done all week, the Group 1 Prix Jacques le Marois winner and work rider Matt Ennis cantered steadily for a circuit. “Keep it simple, that’s the best way for him,” Ennis said.
Ribchester, who carries the Godolphin colours, will be tackling 1800m for the first time on Saturday. Trainer Richard Fahey said: “Although he’s by the miler Iffraaj, there is stamina on the dam’s side of his pedigree and I think he should stay the trip. He’s travelled and eaten well, and I’m very happy with him.”
Mondialiste (IRE) headed to Meydan’s main track for the second morning in a row, but whereas the day before he was asked to quicken near the end of a steady piece of work, he hardly broke sweat on Friday.
Trainer David O’Meara reported: “He just walked up to the track from the stables, had a jog along the back side and then went home. Very easy time – he’s done all we need to do. Mondialiste deserves his place, and if he brings his Arlington Million to the race, he should run well.”
Mondialiste figures among the entries made this week for the QEII Cup and Champions Mile in Hong Kong next month.
Decorated Knight (GB), who will be defending trainer Roger Charlton’s unblemished record in Group 1 races at Meydan, went a very steady pace round one circuit of the dirt training track.
Charlton won the equivalent of this race in 2012 with Cityscape and the Jebel Hatta on Super Saturday with Decorated Knight. He said: “The Jebel Hatta was the winter plan. This is a tougher race and he probably has to improve two or three lengths, but I’m very happy with him. He’s relaxed and it just easy exercise today.”
Deauville (IRE), one of three sons of Galileo in the Aidan O’Brien team, went third in line behind Highland Reel (IRE) as the party had their second outing to the Meydan main dirt track.
Deauville, who is Ryan Moore’s pick from the stable’s three runners in the race, ran over longer distances in his four outings as a three-year-old, winning the Belmont Derby and ending the season in mid-August with a half-length third place behind Mondialiste in the Arlington Million.
Cougar Mountain (IRE), who followed immediately behind Highland Reel (IRE) at exercise on the main dirt track, is the exception among the nine-strong squad assembled by trainer Aidan O’Brien for the Dubai World Cup programme in that he has already raced overseas this winter. Ridden by Saturday’s jockey, the trainer’s son Donnacha, he failed by a diminishing half-length to overcome an unfavourable draw in Qatar late last month.
Long Island Sound (USA) – Among the Aidan O’Brien-trained runners in the race, was given sixth place in the dirt-track exercise string behind Highland Reel (IRE). One of three sons of War Front in the nine-strong team, he was unraced as a two-year-old and rounded off his seven races at three by claiming his third win, at Dundalk over 2100m. He will be ridden by Seamie Heffernan, whose only previous Dubai World Cup night ride, Festive Cheer, finished 13th in the Dubai Sheema Classic three years ago.
Heshem (IRE) – Came onto the main track, where he went for a walk and a short jog. His trainer Christophe Ferland said: “The horse worked yesterday on the grass, so he just jogged this morning. He doesn’t need anything else. He is fine and seems ready for the race tomorrow. There is a lot of wind, so the track is going to dry out quickly. I’m not worried about the ground.”
Mutakayyef (GB) – The Ascot Summer Mile winner was walked from quarantine to the training track and back to keep him ticking over.
“We have been really happy with him and everything has gone well this week,” said trainer William Haggas’s wife Maureen. “Let’s hope he gets luck in running and can show what he is capable of.”
Opal Tiara (IRE) – Regular work rider Lesley White gave Mick Channon’s filly light exercise on her final morning before she bids to supplement her Balanchine success.
Debt Collector (NZ) – Trainer Cliff Brown said: “He has got better all week since arriving. He’s ready to run to his best. It is a very tough race but we are ready for the challenge.”
Vivlos (JPN) – Jockey Joao Moreira gave her an easy canter on the dirt course.
Moreira said: “She seems very nice. She is quite compact, but she is tall. When she runs, once she stretches out, she has a beautiful stride. So hopefully she can be right there.”
Owner Hirotsugu Sasaki, a former Major League baseball pitcher, said: “I visited the barn yesterday, and she looked well and fit. She is in good form and the trainer (Yasuo Tomomichi) has confidence in her condition at the moment.
“The trainer and I have been talking targeting this race since Vivlos won the last leg of the Fillies’ Triple Crown race last fall. It surprised me a lot that Joao Moreira, who worked her for the first time ever, understood her so quickly. He is an amazing jockey. Vivlos has a dual Group 1-winning full sister named Verxina and I think Vivlos has a same kind of good character as she is a really keen and gutsy type of horse.
“Many thanks to the stable staff who have been doing a very good job with her. She has kept her good form and is ready for tomorrow.”
When he was asked how the stress of horse ownership compared to his pitching career, he answered: “Actually I did not have any stress when I was a baseball player because I played it by myself, but for horse racing, horses are the players so as I watch them running I am always nervous.”
Group 1 US$6m Longines Dubai Sheema Classic, 2410m (Turf)
Jack Hobbs (GB) – Had a light canter around the grass track just after 5am ahead of tomorrow’s race.
Highland Reel (IRE)/Seventh Heaven (IRE) – led out the nine-strong Aidan O’Brien- trained team, with the filly Seventh Heaven (IRE) bringing up the rear, as they emerged in single file on the Meydan main dirt track.
O’Brien’s personal travel plans were scuppered by snow in Ireland on Tuesday, forcing him to revise the week’s schedule for his home-trained horses.
However, his wife Anne-Marie and daughter Sarah reached Dubai in time to receive the stable’s Best Trainer award at the inaugural Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Horse Racing Excellence Awards on Thursday evening, and were on hand at Meydan to cast their eyes over Ballydoyle’s biggest-ever challenge on Dubai World Cup night.
“They have travelled well,” Anne-Marie said. “Now let’s hope they all run well.”
Partnered by their regular work riders, the string repeated Thursday’s exercise, filing past the empty stands for a lap of the dirt track at walking pace, before turning to canter left-handed for a circuit at a slightly quicker pace than on the previous day.
Pat Keating, who oversees the stable’s travellers, said: “Everything has gone very well since we arrived early on Tuesday, and we’re very happy with all of them.”
Postponed (IRE) – Trainer Roger Varian watched the six-year-old enjoy a leg stretch on the training track with his usual work horse.
“I am very happy with him and he just did an easy lap and a half,” said Varian. “He breezed yesterday to finish his preparation so just had a leg stretch this morning and he is doing really well.”
Sounds Of Earth (JPN) – Cantered for a lap on the main track under work rider Masaoki Nakata.
Trainer Kenichi Fujioka said: “He has settled well and got familiarised with the new surroundings here, including the climate. He displays flexibility each day. He will be 100 per cent fit or probably more tomorrow. When I rode him this morning before he worked, he felt good and was very fresh.”
Group 1 US$2m Dubai Golden Shaheen sponsored by Gulf News, 1200m (Dirt)
Mind Your Biscuits (USA) – Went through his final preparations for Saturday’s race.
“He just jogged today back near the (quarantine) barn,” trainer Chad Summers said. “He’s looking great and we are ready. We’re just waiting for tomorrow.”
Stallwalkin’ Dude (USA) — Appeared no worse for wear one day after blowing out 600m in 38 seconds. With Howard Jacobson, assistant trainer, looking on, he walked the shed row with a day remaining until he competes in the 1200m dash.
“He came out of the work great,” Jacobson said.
Dios Corrida (JPN) – Cantered one brisk lap around the main course and schooled in the gate. Trainer Yoshitada Takahashi said: “We couldn’t be happier with the progress he has made here. He has seemingly grown a lot while here. Tomorrow we will get a nice fast break because we are in the middle. He usually breaks fast but if he doesn’t he might have to use up some vital energy to get a good position. We hope that won’t be the case, we want him to has plenty in the tank for the finish.”
Dundonnell (USA) – The seven-year-old gelding did not visit the main track.
“He’s good and his fitness level is good,” trainer Caspar Fownes said. “I’ve just kept him on track to what he’s used to. It’s worked and you don’t change something that isn’t broken. Just keep going forward. He’s in good form so hopefully he’ll run his race. If he can pick up a cheque it would be great.”
St Joe Bay (USA) – Out for a trot and a hack around on the training track in the quarantine facility.
“St Joe Bay will run on anything, but I have heard that rain will help the main track tighten,” said Peter Miller. “He will like that. He’s doing really well. I’m happy with his health and his energy level.”
Notlistenin’tome (AUS) – Trainer John Moore said: “He is very well, in peak condition and has enjoyed himself on the dirt track in a canter this morning. If he can finish in the first four I would be delighted. He is capable of that on his best form but the wide gate in 10 is a concern.”
Group 1 US$1m Al Quoz Sprint sponsored by Azizi Developments, 1200m (Turf)
The Right Man (FR) – The first of the French raiders to make an appearance on the main track at Meydan on Friday morning and cantered once round the track.
His owner Geraldine Richshoffer was delighted when she said: “We drove in the car next to him as he was trotting along the way to join the track. He was completely relaxed. He had his ears pricked and seemed very at ease. He has really come on from his last run. He is supple and ready for the race.”
Finsbury Square (FR) – Trainer Fabrice Chappet was as relaxed as his horse, who he watched do a little jog on the main track. Chappet confirmed: “He went a bit quicker yesterday and so today he just jogged around the track. It was just a question of letting him stretch his legs. He is supple after yesterday’s work and I’m happy with him. He loves softer ground, so I welcome the rain.”
Long On Value (USA) – Riley Mott, assistant trainer, said: “We just sent him off the right way and had a regular gallop, about (1800m), and that’s that. We’re just going to have a little bit of a light day tomorrow, jog at the quarantine centre, and then lead him over there and run him.
“He’ll most certainly get outrun the first 600m or so like he does back home. We just hope Joel (Rosario, jockey) will get him relaxed and make one run. In a sprint race, especially on the turf, there isn’t as much you can do with tactics. You try to break well and place your horse and get him comfortable. Joel knows the horse and that makes us comfortable.”
Final Venture (GB) – Trainer Paul Midgley kept the five-year-old inside the quarantine centre this morning with his main gallops having been completed last week.
Richard’s Boy (USA) – Was out for a trot and a canter on the training track in the quarantine facility.
“He has trouble containing himself,” said exercise rider Jesse Sauder. “He always feels so good.”
Trainer Peter Miller said: “He’s doing really well. Now we just need to get through the next 36 hours.”
Amazing Kids (NZ) – Jockey Joao Moreira said: “I rode him in a barrier trial last week in Hong Kong and he felt great. The fact that John (Size, trainer) is bringing him here to Dubai for John’s first trip to this meeting is enough to give me confidence. He’s a horse that likes to settle and finish with a strong run and I hope to get cover on him early on. He is unbeaten in two runs sprinting in a straight line in Hong Kong so I hope he can make it three in a row in Dubai.”
Group 2 $US2m UAE Derby sponsored by The Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group, 1900m (Dirt)
Epicharis (JPN) – Had a light canter around the main track. Trainer Kiyoshi Hagiwara said: “He is ready for the race. We will want Christophe to keep him off the pace like he has in past races.”
Adirato (JPN) – Hand walked in the quarantine area this morning. Trainer Naosuke Sugai said: “We just walked him today. He is in race mode so we didn’t want him to lose that energy today. He has really changed in a good way while being here. He knows the race is coming and is switched on. He is stabled in the same stall as Just A Way was three years ago. It feels like a good omen!”
Vettori Kin (BRZ) – Had his final 2400m gallop on the Meydan dirt track and trainer Kenny McPeek said: “He’s just drilled the feed tub and you can see on the track how fluid he is. I think he’s got a pretty big chance.
“This is maybe one of the best horses I’ve bought out of South America. He has a huge future and we’re really excited about him.
“I’m going into the race feeling like I have a have a pretty good chance but it’s a melting pot of horses coming in from all over – Ireland, Japan, America, Argentina, Brazil. It’s wide open and the key is if your horse is thriving and mine is thriving.”
Qatar Man (USA) – Was out on the main track just after 5am. Trainer Marco Botti’s wife Lucie said: “He just cantered around, we’re happy with everything and ready to go.”
Master Plan (USA) – Galloping over the main track, he showed his connections that not only is he ready for Saturday’s race, he will not mind if rains continue and the track is wet.
“He looked like he really enjoyed some moisture in the track,” said Ginny DePasquale, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher.
Group 2 US$1m Godolphin Mile sponsored by Meydan Sobha, 1600m (Dirt)
Ross (IRE) – Ridden by Patrick Gibson, he came out on the main track and German trainer Peter Schiergen watched him canter once round.
Schiergen said: “For us the race can’t come quick enough. He is ready, he really needs to run now.”
Sharp Azteca (USA) – Jorge Navarro, trainer, said: “He just walked. I always walk my horses the day before a race. Today was a day off for all of us.”
Gifted Master (IRE) – Ahead of his race debut on the dirt, Hugo Palmer’s four-year-old had a gentle canter on the surface under the lights.
“He just did an easy bit this morning and I am looking forward to seeing how he gets on tomorrow,” said trainer Hugo Palmer.
Triple Nine (KOR) – Had a 2000m canter. “He has very explosive power when he changes leads,” said Ryu Seungho, senior manager of international races and relations of the Korean Racing Authority.
“But he did not change leads in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 or the race before. The work rider has been practicing changing leads at the straight.”
Group 2 US$1m Dubai Gold Cup sponsored by Al Tayer Motors, 3200m (Turf)
Trip To Paris (IRE) – Trainer Ed Dunlop said of the 2015 Royal Ascot winner: “He just had a light canter this morning after doing a bit of faster work yesterday. His weight is stable and we knew where we were with him before coming out. He seems well but time will tell if he is still as good as he was.”
Wall Of Fire (IRE) – William Buick was again on the Melrose Stakes winner and the pair covered a lap of the main turf track.
“William rode him again and they get on well,” said trainer Hugo Palmer. “This race is a step up for him but he is progressive and it will be interesting to see how he fares.”
Vazirabad (FR) – See Zarak (FR) in Dubai Turf
Big Orange (GB) – Enjoyed a leisurely stroll in the quarantine facility.
“He had a lead out,” said trainer Michael Bell.
“We are worried about the ground with the weather. We are doing a weather watch.”
Heartbreak City (FR) – Trainer Tony Martin said: “I couldn’t be happier with him. After finishing in second in Melbourne he needed a good rest and he was probably a bit short of work before he ran over hurdles at Leopardstown in February but he has done very well since then. I think he can win.”
Sheikhzayedroad (GB) – Trainer David Simcock said: “Everything has gone to plan. Very straightforward prep with him.”
Quechua (ARG) – Trainer Ricardo Le Grange said: “I’m very happy with him. Looking forward to the race.”
Group 1 (Purebred Arabians) US$1m Dubai Kahayla Classic empowered by IPIC, 2000m (Dirt)
Handassa (FR) – Trainer François Rohaut arrived well before Handassa at the track and while he was waiting, he said: “We got the number 12 in the starting gates, which is not too much of a worry, as Handassa is not the quickest coming out of the stalls. So it’s better that he has an outside number.”
Handassa came onto the main track at Meydan and his trainer continued: “He is well awake this morning with all the wind and the rain. I think it has woken up all of the horses,” he laughed. He added: “No, the horse is well. We are not doing anything anymore now. He just did a slow canter, that’s it.”
TM Thunder Struck (US) – Remained in the yard on Friday morning, where Eric Ventrou, assistant trainer and his regular work rider, walked him around the exercise area. He explained: “I just walked him this morning as he worked yesterday. It depends on the horse, but TM Thunder Struck doesn’t need to go out. It’s good to keep him a bit fresh, too.”
Credit: Dubai Racing Club