Blue Point 'the horse to beat' in Al Quoz Sprint says confident Charlie Appleby
Al Quoz Sprint Sponsored By Azizi Developments (Group 1) | 6f | 3yo+ | Turf | RTV
Blue Point has produced his most electrifying performances over five furlongs, with his King's Stand victory at Royal Ascot last June representing the pinnacle of his achievements. However, the pick of his efforts over six furlongs, including a smooth three-length success here on Super Saturday, also give him outstanding claims.
The Godolphin-owned sprinter was set to go off a short price for last year's race but a nosebleed at the start necessitated his withdrawal. However, the five-year-old is an even more formidable proposition this time, having reached his mental and physical peak, and two decisive victories in Dubai this winter means confidence is high in trainer Charlie Appleby's camp.
Appleby said: "Blue Point is in great order and he's won his two starts this year. The provisional plan was to go straight from the Meydan Sprint to the Al Quoz but he was so well at home we decided to give him an extra run to keep him where we wanted him.
"He's come out of it well and is the horse to beat."
Appleby has described the sprinter as being "the finished article" and revealed he has not seen a horse come faster up his gallops than Blue Point.
Leading the opposition to Blue Point is Sands Of Mali, who thrived on a busy campaign last year, running every month from April to October.
He saved his best effort until last and made all to win the Champions Sprint at Ascot, earning an official rating just 2lb inferior to Blue Point's lofty mark of 118.
That was achieved on testing ground but his Commonwealth Cup second proves he is effective on a sound surface, and he has reportedly handled the journey to Dubai well.
Trainer Richard Fahey said: "This is a good starting point. He's maturing and has taken this trip very well. I was worried about how he would take it – especially being a sprinter – but he's been brilliant."
Sands Of Mali, who will carry the silks of new part-owners Phoenix Thoroughbreds, tends to race prominently, but Ryan Moore will be playing his cards late on Lost Treasure, a talented-but-quirky performer with a habit of downing tools once hitting the front.
Trainer Aidan O'Brien said: "He's a horse who likes to come from behind. He's in good form and just ready to start off."
Dual Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint winner Stormy Liberal finished runner-up last year and returns bidding to go one better, while Hugh Bowman has his first ride at Meydan aboard Brave Smash.
Bowman said: "We won the Group 1 Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valley and his run in the Newmarket Handicap, under Damien Oliver, was an excellent performance. If he can run as well as he did there he's certainly going to be involved in the finish."
Brave Smash is one of three Australian runners in a cosmopolitan field of 13, in which seven countries are represented.
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