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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Baffert: West Coast is a top-class horse and brings the best form

West Coast (Dana Barnes): deserves to be favourite on form, says trainer Bob Baffert
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5.50 Meydan
Dubai World Cup (Sponsored by Emirates Airline) (Group 1) | 1m2f | 3yo+ | dirt | ATR/RUK

Punting pointers

Pegasus second is standout form

It's time for the talking – something that Bob Baffert has mastered – to stop. He is also pretty good at training Dubai World Cup winners.

Thrice successful in the $10,000,000 race, most recently in dramatic fashion with Arrogate last year, Baffert is back for more with red-hot favourite West Coast, owned by Gary and Mary West, and course specialist Mubtaahij, who runs in the colours of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum.

Javier Castellano rides West Coast, the general evens favourite whose second-place finish behind Gun Runner in the Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park in January is the standout form in this ten-runner field.

Baffert said: "West Coast deserves to be favourite as he brings the best form. He's a top-class horse.

"He's looked really good and strong since he's been here and settled in really well.

"The draw in stall nine is not a major concern – the only thing I worry about is the start. They have a short run to the first turn so it will be crucial.

"Mubtaahij is proven at the track and looks fantastic. I think he'll be very competitive."

Morning eyecatcher can go close

US trainer Dallas Stewart and son Cole have been a regular sight at the track in the mornings this week and had plenty to smile about with Champion Mare Forever Unbridled catching the eye of many onlookers ahead of her final run before heading to stud.

Owned by Charles 'Chuck' Fipke, who has been on course since Thursday, Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Forever Unbridled, the mount of last year's winning rider Mike Smith, will make history if successful by becoming the first filly or mare to win the prestigious contest.

Stewart said after her final workout on Friday: "She’s bouncing and we feel she’s reaching her peak.

"She's not your typical mare – she's massive, has great energy and a fantastic attitude. She has been out on the track every day this week – she just loves her work and all she wants to do is please.

"She’s won around eight different tracks, hopefully she will make it nine tomorrow. She’s a great horse."

Bin Suroor leads the way

Baffert is one of two trainers to have enjoyed more than one victory in this world-renowned race.

It is Saeed bin Suroor that leads the way with an unprecedented seven triumphs, the most recent with Prince Bishop in 2015, following stablemate African Story's win the previous year.

Bin Suroor relies on last year's UAE Derby and Prix Jean Prat scorer Thunder Snow, drawn in the outside stall, in this renewal.

Thunder Snow: partnered by Christophe Soumillon once more

The mount of Christophe Soumillon defeated the reopposing North America by a neck in round two of the Al Maktoum Challenge last month, but will have to reverse the most recent form with that rival after finishing a five-and-a-quarter length second to Satish Seemar's stable star on Super Saturday this month.

Bin Suroor said: "He worked very well this week and we're delighted with him.

"He's proven himself on the dirt and ran very well on Super Saturday. A wide draw has been overcome before and he’s got plenty of early speed so hopefully we can get a nice position. It's a very strong race but we're hoping for a big run."

Godolphin's other runner is the Andre Fabre-trained Talismanic, who runs on dirt for the first time but boasts Group 1-winning form with success in the Breeders' Cup Turf last year.

Lisa-Jane Graffard, racing representative for Godolphin in France, said: "He's got a great attitude and mind and he settled in fine.

"He's trained really well on the surface but you never really know how they'll find it in a race. He's in fantastic form and will run a big race if handling conditions."

What they say

Yutaka Take, rider of Awardee
Awardee has been training very well and will be suited by this left-handed track. He was a bit nervous when trapped on the rail last time so the draw in stall one is a concern.

Satish Seemar, trainer of North America
I'm very bullish – he's honest, straightforward and always runs to form. He was fantastic in the Al Maktoum Challenge here on Super Saturday and we have the perfect draw. He’s still to peak, and he’ll do that on Saturday.

Antonio Sano, trainer of Gunnevera
He's a totally different horse now than when he ran in the Pegasus. He's never worked like he's working now. I'm hoping there's a strong gallop as that would suit him.

Erwan Charpy, trainer of Furia Cruzada
She's improved a lot this year, she's a bit older and very consistent. Everything went wrong for her in this race last year. I'm not going into it feeling sure we're going to win but she'll be competitive.

Leandro Mora, assistant to Doug O'Neill, trainer of Pavel
I'm very pleased with him. We've come to win the race, but I'll be happy if he finishes in the first four. He's improved a lot in the last year and there is more to come.

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The only thing I worry about is the start. They have a short run to the first turn so it will be crucial
E.W. Terms
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