Mabait (right) is being aimed at the Group 2 Godolphin Mile on World CupPICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)
Cumani targets opening highlight with Mabait
LUCA CUMANI, who has sent a strong-looking team to the Dubai Carnival, will attempt to hit the ground running when Mabait bids to win his first Group race in the opening round of the Maktoum Challenge on Thursday.
The 1m event on the Tapeta all-weather surface provides the $200,000 opening-night highlight at this year's Meydan jamboree and was won in 2010 by subsequent Dubai WorldCup winner Gloria De Campeao.
The much-improved Mabait dead-heated with subsequent Group 1 winner Rio De La Plata in a Listed race at Pontefract in July.
He is being targeted at the Group 2 Godolphin Mile on World Cup night by Cumani, who has had three three carnival winners in each of the last two years and returns with six horses, including Presvis and Drunken Sailor.
Although a total of 29 horses have been entered in Thursday's feature, Mabait is guaranteed a run, while the Stef Higgins-trained Mac Love should also get in, but Ireland's Across The Rhine needs a few withdrawals.
My Indy, winner in 2009 for Saeed Bin Suroor, is likely to try again for new trainer Mubarak bin Shafya.
However, Bin Suroor looks set to saddle probable favourite Mendip, third in last year's UAE Derby when suffering his only defeat in four career starts. Bin Suroor's Godolphin counterpart Mahmood Al Zarooni may saddle the former Mark Johnston-trained Sea Lord.
Mike de Kock, who scored with Grand Emporium in 2005, has Dubai Duty Free third Imbongi among four possibles.
Imbongi is also entered in a 6f conditions race on Tapeta that features the Herman Brown-trained Bankable, who finished a place ahead of him in the Dubai Duty Free and Al Fahidi Fort last season.
The turf will be used for the first time this season with handicaps over 7f and 1m4f, while the the Peter Chapple-Hyam-trained Crying Lightening is one of ten entered for the UAE 1,000 Guineas Trial over 7f.