Mendip defends his crown of the Maktoum Challenge on ThursdayPICTURE: Andrew Watkins/Dubai Racing Club
Mendip bids for Meydan Challenge repeat
MENDIP, winner of the opening round of the Maktoum Challenge last year for Godolphin and Saeed bin Suroor, will need to be near his very best if he is to make a successful return in the 2012 running on Thursday.
Twenty have been entered with Godolphin responsible for seven and the Mahmood Al Zarooni-trained Xin Xu Lin perhaps looking best of the operation's other sextet on his first start since running respectably in last year's UAE Derby.
Bin Suroor said: "Mendip loves the Meydan Tapeta and, like last year, arrives here fresh and well having been rested since World Cup night last year. He seems in great form and I am hopeful."
It may be worth noting that both Mendip and Bin Suroor's 2009 winner (at Nad Al Sheba) My Indy were both making their seasonal debut having not raced since defeat in the previous year's UAE Derby and Al Zarooni will be hoping history can repeat itself.
However, Godolphin certainly will not have things their own way with the opposition likely to be headed by Mike De Kock duo Musir, who won the UAE Derby in 2010 when Mendip was third, and new stable companion Master Of Hounds. The latter was a very close second in last year's UAE Derby for Aidan O'Brien and looks an exciting new recruit for the South African handler.
Musir is joint top-rated on 117, a mark he shares with the Marco Botti-trained Fanunalter who was placed on both his Carnival starts last year (on turf). Winner of the Group 3 Diomed Stakes at Epsom, he was fourth to Dick Turpin in a Group 1 at the San Siro when last seen.
Derbaas, winner of last year's Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort for Champion Trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe, has the benefit of a run under his belt after finding De Kock's Mahbooba too strong over 1m1f last week. That was on turf but he is a course and distance Tapeta winner.
Dance And Dance (Ed Vaughan) and St Moritz (Dandy Nicholls) are also entered in the race of the Carnival thus far. Nicholls opened his UAE account at the 66th attempt last week with Addictive Dream who heads 11 entries in the 6f turf handicap.