Monterosso: Dubai World Cup winner returns on Super SaturdayPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Monterosso back with World Cup the plan
Preview: UAE, Saturday
Meydan: Al Maktoum Challenge III (Group 1) 1m2f, 4yo+
WITH two thoroughbred Group 1s on the card, Super Saturday at Meydan looks sure to live up to its billing with the equine cast list led by last year’s Dubai World Cup winner Monterosso.
Trained by Mahmood Al Zarooni, the six-year-old has run only once since, when well beaten in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown last July. Like last year, he makes his seasonal return in the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge III over the World Cup course and in which he was fourth 12 months ago.
Al Zarooni said: “This has always been the plan since Sandown, after which we gave him a nice break and freshened him up. He’s a big horse who takes a lot of work at home so he’ll definitely improve for the run. He has been pleasing us and this should help put him spot-on for three weeks’ time.”
Mickael Barzalona had been set to partner stablemate Saunt Baudolino, but reclaims the ride on Monterosso as that one is a non-runner.
Godolphin are seeking their 200th Group 1 victory today and Al Zarooni’s colleague Saeed Bin Suroor has a great record in this contest, first run in 1994, having saddled eight winners, including three subsequent World Cup winners in Dubai Millennium, Electrocutionist and Street Cry.
He saddles four today, with Silvestre de Sousa on this year’s Al Maktoum Challenge II winner Hunter’s Light.
Bin Suroor said: “He was a Group 1 winner in Europe last year and was impressive last time, but this is a better race with some really good opposition. He’s been working well and should run a big race.”
He also saddles Kassiano, the only horse to have won three times at this year’s Carnival, a plum spare ride for William Buick, Mendip and Prince Bishop.
Japan’s Trailblazer and American raider Little Mike are others to note, while last year’s UAE Derby winner Daddy Long Legs is one of two for Mike de Kock. He was trained by Aidan O’Brien for his Dubai win last year and is joined by another ex-Ballydoyle horse Treasure Beach.
De Kock said: “Daddy Long Legs has needed his two runs thus far and will probably still need this one. That said, he is probably a lot straighter than Treasure Beach, who has been off since November and who has had a few problems. We need to see if he handles the Tapeta but he’ll come on a lot for the run.”
Also at Meydan on Saturday
Mike de Kock has three declared in the Group 1 Jebel Hatta, including last year’s winner Master Of Hounds.
He will be ridden by Pat Cosgrave, with Christophe Soumillon again aboard The Apache, on whom he won the Group 2 Al Rashidiya over course and distance five weeks ago.
However, it is the trainer’s other runner, Igugu, on whom most attention will be focused as Anthony Delpech flies in from South Africa to ride the mare. Delpech, who on his last visit to Dubai won the Sheema Classic on Vengeance Of Rain at Nad Al Sheba in 2007, is excited to be back and reunited with Igugu.
Having ridden the six-year-old out on Thursday morning, he said: “She seemed in great form and I was very pleased with her. I’ve enjoyed plenty of success in Dubai and am really looking forward to Saturday.
“It will be my first race ride at Meydan. I’m not really sure about the strength of the opposition but Mike and his team will remedy that by race time. Igugu is special and it would be great to think she can show that on Saturday and hopefully secure a berth on Dubai World Cup night.”
Godolphin are well represented, with Mickael Barzalona riding City Style for Mahmood Al Zarooni and Silvestre de Sousa partnering Sharestan for Saeed Bin Suroor, who also saddles Sajjhaa, twice a winner this year.
Other than Monterosso, Godolphin’s most interesting runner is Masterstroke, who was third when last seen on his final start for Andre Fabre in the Arc last October and runs in the Group 2 turf contest.
He is having his first start for Al Zarooni, who said: “The Sheema Classic is his main target and he’ll improve for this run. His work has been good and he shows us he has plenty of ability, as his French form would indicate. He’s a nice new recruit.”