Richard Hills rides joint top-weight Quartier Latin in 1m handicapPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Carnival hopefuls ready for final prep races
Preview: UAE, Thursday 2.25pm GMT (live on ATR)
SEVERAL Dubai Carnival aspirants will have their final preparations on Thursday as Meydan hosts its final meeting before the start of the 2011 bonanza in seven days' time.
Quartier Latin (Doug Watson/Richard Hills) and Playfellow (Dhruba Selvaratnam/Kieren Fallon) are both rated 100 and share top-weight in the second 1m handicap (4.50pm GMT). Watson's representative produced his best UAE effort last time when fourth over 1m1½f and should appreciate the drop in trip.
"We changed tactics a bit last time and raced him up with the pace," said the trainer. "It was a good run and by far his best on Tapeta so we are trying him again on it. We always have the turf option at the carnival if we decide to go that route."
WithWilliam Buick sidelined, Selvaratnam has booked Kieren Fallon for Playfellow's second local start.
Now five, the gelding was a Listed winning juvenile for Michael Jarvis but had not run since October 2008 when returning to action fourweeks ago, when showing promise over 7f.
His trainer feels the step up in trip will suit. "We were pleased with that run after two years off and the mile should be ideal," he said. "He is carnival-rated and this looks agood opportunity to run him again to see where we stand."
Commander Cave (Erwan Charpy/Willie Supple) was in front of Playfellow four weeks ago and is another who will relish the extra furlong. "That was a nice comeback run and a mile should be his optimum around Meydan," said Charpy.
This looks a wide-open contest though, with both champion Trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe and this season's leading handler Satish Seemar triple-handed.
Royston Ffrench rides With Interest of the Al Raihe trio, with Richard Mullen partnering Rochefort for Seemar.
Taos (Mubarak Bin Shafya/Pat Cosgrave) is another to fear after a pleasing local debut.
The weights in the 1m6f handicap (4.15pm GMT)are headed by four carnival-qualified runners racing against a host who will be hoping for a win to secure the magic 95 rating needed to become eligible for the forthcoming jamboree.
Erwan Charpy is responsible for two of them with Supple choosing top-weight Captain Webb over New Guinea (Ted Durcan).
Arqaam (Watson/Hills) and Leitmotiv (Musabah Al Muhairi/Wayne Smith) are the other pair.