Meydan: Dubai World Cup Carnival starts on ThursdayPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Carnival kicks off with Maktoum Challenge
Preview: UAE, Thursday
THE 2013 Dubai World Cup Carnival starts at Meydan on Thursday evening with the first of ten meetings, culminating in Super Saturday (March 9), the penultimate Meydan meeting before the world's richest race meeting, Dubai World Cup night (March 30).
Thursday's feature is the opening round of the Al Maktoum Challenge, over 1m on Tapeta and ten have been declared for the contest, which has been upgraded to Group 2 status for the first time this year.
Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor, the Carnival's most successful trainer, has saddled the winner of this race on seven occasions and relies on one time Kentucky Derby hope Out Of Bounds (Silvestre de Sousa).
A Grade 3 winner on his most recent start in his native America for Eoin Harty, the now four-year-old son of the trainer's 2006 UAE Derby winner Discreet Cat, has been off just over a year.
Fellow Godolphin trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni, seeking his first win in the race, is to be represented by Fulbright (Mickael Barzalona), winner of six races from 12 starts for Mark Johnston last year.
Fulbright has only ever run on turf, including a last time out victory in the Group 2 Challenge Stakes at Newmarket, but as a son of Invincible Spirit he should handle Tapeta.
Paul Hanagan had the choice of three for his main employer Sheikh Hamdan and, unsurprisingly, has elected to ride Mufarrh, runner-up in the 2011 Godolphin Mile and a pleasing third on his first start since three weeks ago. He is trained by local champion Ali Rashid Al Raihe.
That leaves Dane O'Neill to ride the same owner's Barbecue Eddie, a Tapeta specialist and already a dual course and distance winner this season.
Fanunalter (Marco Botti/Ryan Moore) and Colliding Worlds (Pat Shanahan/Tadhg O'Shea) represent the UK and Ireland respectively.
South American Mike De Kock, the leading international trainer and second only to Bin Suroor overall, is back for his tenth year but does not have a runner in the feature. However, he does saddle Rerouted (Christophe Soumillon) in the 1m1f Al Rashidiya Trial - the second race on the Meydan turf this season.
The 2010 Group 1 Dubai Duty Free winner Al Shemali (Al Raihe/Royston Ffrench) is among his eight rivals which also include Sharestan (Bin Suroor/De Sousa) and Red Duke (David Simcock/Jamie Spencer).
The first thoroughbred race is a 7f Tapeta handicap and Belgian Bill (George Baker/Ryan Moore), Iver Bridge Lad (John Ryan/Daragh O'Donohoe), Lily's Angel (Ger Lyons/Gary Carroll), Oasis Dancer (Kevin Ryan/Kieren Fallon) and Rex Imperator (Dandy Nicholls/Adrian Nicholls) all take their chance.
David Nicholls: has sent out sprinters to chase Meydan richesPICTURE: Martin Lynch (racingpost.com/photos)
Nicholls saddled Addictive Dream to win the 5f turf handicap and he is back under trainer's son Adrian and joined by stable companion Inxile (O'Donohoe).
Temple Meads (David Brown/Richard Mullen), Confessional (Tim Easterby/Ted Durcan), Bear Behind (Tom Dascombe/Richard Kingscote), Cheviot (Kevin Ryan/Ryan Moore) and Pabusar (Jamie Osborne/James Doyle) are in the same race, along with Balmont Mast (Edward Lynam/Gary Carroll) and Invincible Ash (Mick Halford/Jamie Spencer) for Ireland.
The maximum field of 16 then go to post in a 1m2f Tapeta handicap, including Ottoman Empire (Simcock/Harry Bentley) and Universal (Mark Johnston/Adrian Nicholls).
Racing concludes with a 7f turf handicap and Captain Ramius (Ryan/Dane O'Neill), Kenny Powers (Dascombe/Kingscote), Arnold Lane (Mick Channon/Martin Harley) and Don't Call Me (Nicholls/Nicholls) are among the 16 declared.
Al Maktoum Challenge Round I
What they say
Saeed bin Suroor, trainer of Out Of Bounds
"He was a Grade 3 winner in America and has been with us for a while but is coming back after a year off so he will certainly benefit from the run. That said, he is in good form in the mornings and works well on the Tapeta so should run a nice race."
Tadhg O'Shea, jockey on Colliding Worlds
"She is unexposed and has been training really well on the surface. We also had her entered in a handicap but we hoped this would cut up and it has."
"Pat Shanahan is delighted with her and hopefully she can run well."
Doug Watson, trainer of Barbecue Eddie and Tajaaweed
"We were really looking forward to running Barbecue Eddie in last year's Godolphin Mile but had to withdraw him and that is the hope again this season - to get him to Dubai World Cup night. He has proved the last twice he stays the trip well and has a nice draw.
"We know this is harder than his last two races but he is in great form and loves that Tapeta surface.
"Tajaaweed worked well on the surface the other day and this is a good chance to get him on the track."
Paul Hanagan, jockey on Mufarrh
"His Godolphin Mile second is a great line of form and it was a good comeback after so long off. I sat on him the other day and he felt great so we have to be very hopeful."
Marco Botti, trainer of Fanunalter
"This is his third trip here and his best run was first time two years ago when fresh so hopefully he can replicate that with Ryan (Moore) again in the saddle."
Adrie De Vries, jockey on Jamr
"He was most progressive last season and can hopefully continue in that vein but this is obviously his toughest task and his best form is over slightly further.
"He goes well on the surface though and seems in good form."
Mahmood Al Zarooni, trainer of Fulbright
"He worked very nicely the other morning and I cannot see any reason why he will not handle Tapeta. We only have three runners on the evening and we will find out how far forward our horses are this year.
"This horse had a great 2012 in England and is one we hope can carry on improving."
Harry Bentley, rider of Rutland Boy
"He was very progressive last season so perhaps his comeback was a bit disappointing but it was a much better effort last time. This is a better race but hopefully he has more to offer."
Fawzi Nass, owner/trainer of Muraweg
"He really pleased us over an inadequate trip last time and this mile is more suitable but obviously it is a better race. Hopefully he can run well."
Al Rashidiya Trial
What they say
Ali Rashid Al Raihe, trainer of Al Shemali and Naseem Alyasmeen
"Al Shemali was our big winner three years ago and got his head back in front at Abu Dhabi last March. He ran well on his one start this season and is working well.
"The filly (Naseem Alyamseen) has some decent form in England and this looks a good place to start her."
Tadhg O'Shea, jockey on Energia Dust
"I was a fast finishing third on him at Abu Dhabi over seven furlongs last time and this extra trip will certainly suit. Hopefully there is plenty of pace on and I am looking forward to getting back on him."
Mike De Kock, trainer of Rerouted
"He ran some good races in defeat at the Carnival last year and is a more mature, stronger and sounder horse this time. I expect a bold show but we do feel all our horses are going to improve from the first run."
Fawzi Nass, owner/trainer of Sham Sher
"He did well in Bahrain last year and we decided to try him at the Carnival. This is a lot tougher than the races he won last term but we are keen to have a go with him and hopefully there will be plenty of pace as he stays further."
Saeed bin Suroor, trainer of Sharestan
"It is his first run for us and he has settled in nicely and has improved with each piece of work. The trip should be ideal and, although he will come on for the run, I think he will go well."
Adrie De Vries, jockey on Theo Danon
"He is a horse I know having ridden against him in Germany; he stays further but this looks a good starting point for him."
Jamie Spencer, jockey on Red Duke
"His best juvenile form would give him a major chance and he has run well (in Germany and Turkey) both times I have ridden him. He should stay now and can run a big race."
Doug Watson, trainer of So Beautiful
"It is great to get such a nice horse from Sheikh Hamdan and we have really been looking forward to running him. He seems in great form and his work has been good so we will find out plenty about him on Thursday. He is an exciting recruit."