The Mike de Kock-trained Mahbooba winning at Meydan last yearPICTURE: Andrew Watkins / DRC
Mahbooba back as carnival gets under way
Preview: UAE, Thursday 2.30pm GMT (Live on ATR/RUK)
LAST year's UAE 1,000 Guineas heroine Mahbooba (Mike de Kock/Christophe Soumillon) - who was also second in the UAE Oaks and third in the UAE Derby - returns to Dubai in the 1m1f Al Rashidiya Trial, the feature of Thursday'sopening night of the 2012 Dubai World Cup Carnival.
Subsequently a winner in Britain, before a decent effort when sixth in the EP Taylor Stakes in Canada, she looks the one to beat receiving weight from her rivals as the only filly inthe field.
Leading the opposition is Derbaas (Ali Rashid Al Raihe/Richard Hills) who won the Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort last year.
Stablemates Sea Lord (Mahmood Al Zarooni/Frankie Dettori) and Laajooj (Mickael Barzalona) should not be ignored, while British interest is supplied by St Moritz (David Nicholls/Adrian Nicholls).
Happy Today (Musabah Al Muhairi/Wayne Smith) needs to reproduce the best of his British form tofigure.
Britain has a particularly strong hand in the 5f turf handicap with Humidor (George Baker/Frankie Dettori), Internationaldebut (Paul Midgley/Frederik Tylicki), Addictive Dream (Dandy Nicholls/Adrian Nicholls) and Zero Money (Roger Charlton/James Doyle) appearing to hold chances, as does Monsieur Joe (Robert Cowell/Mickael Barzalona).
With Spin Cycle (Satish Seemar/Richard Mullen) and Russian Rock (Musabah Al Muhairi/Wayne Smith) also representing the UAE and Irish duo Invincible Ash (Mick Halford/Tadhg O'Shea) and Portland winner Nocturnal Affair (David Marnane/Colm O'Donoghue) completing the field, a case can be made for all.
Marnane saddled Dandy Boy to win the other turf race, a 7f handicap, last year and will be hoping the six-year-old can repeat the feat under O'Donoghue from a 2lb lower mark this time. He was chased home by compatriot Hujaylea (Mick Halford/Shane Foley) 12 months ago with Moran Gra (Joanna Morgan/Ryan Moore) givingIreland a strong trio.
Ouqba (Doug Watson/Richard Hills) should go well after more than a year off.
5.35 Meydan: Al Rashidiya Trial (conditions), 1m1f, 3yo+, turf
What they say
Pat Cosgrave, rider of Colony
"It is a decent little race but he is fit and well. He ran well twice over a mile at Abu Dhabi on turf early in the season and the extra furlong should suit him."
Richard Hills: "Derbaas was a real star for us and should go close"PICTURE: Edward Whitaker
Richard Hills, rider of Derbaas
"He was a real star for us all last year with four wins at Meydan, two at the carnival highlighted by a smooth win in the Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort. I am really looking forward to getting back on him. I have not ridden him at home yet this season but Ali [Al Raihe, trainer] and his team are very happy with him. He will come on for the run as he has been off since March, but heshould go very close."
Fabricio Borges, trainer of Energia Cosmica
"He has been off since April so may need the outing and is probably better over a bit further."
Mahmood Al Zarooni, trainer of Sea Lord and Laajooj
"Sea Lord was rather a disappointment to us at last year's carnival and underperformed in his three runs. We gave him the summer off to get him ready for this year and he is nice and fresh now. His work is good and we are very hopeful. Laajooj definitely has a chance as well. He did well in England, winning two and has been given a nice break since Royal Ascot. He has done well since back in Dubai and it is nice to have two good chances."
David Nicholls, trainer of St Moritz
"He did really well for us last year and looks ideal for the carnival as we can run him back quick. He probably has a bit to find with a few of these but he seems in good form."
Ismail Mohammed, trainer of Trois Rois
"He ran some good races at the Carnival last year but did have the advantage of running before whereas this is his return to action. He will come on for the run but is working well enough."
Doug Watson, trainer of War Monger
"He has a bit to find on ratings but he ran really well at Abu Dhabi on his only start this season and is in great form at home so we want to run him. We will have to see how he gets on to decide whether he runs in the Al Rashidiya or if we go the handicap route. I am happy with him and he shouldrun well in a nice little contest."
Wayne Smith, rider of Happy Today
"This will be his third start for us and it would be nice to think third-time lucky as he has not really shown as much in his two runs as we would like. That said, he did not seem to handle the Tapeta first time and the trip may have been a bit short the last day at Abu Dhabi. We have put the visors on and hopefully he can show his something like his best but it looks a hot little race."
Mike de Kock, trainer of Mahbooba
"She did really well for us last year, both in Dubai and England, as well as a very good run in Canada. We know she handles the Tapeta so we always have that option but she certainly handles fast ground when winning at Newmarket so we are happy to start her off on turf and see how she goes. She has settled back in nicely and seems in great shape at home so she should be very competitive."