Crowley confident Muarrab can go well in repeat bid
The draw has played an integral part in the outcome of the vast majority of dirt races at Meydan again this season so feelings of both relief and despair were palpable earlier this week as stall numbers were revealed.
In the 6f Golden Shaheen, last year’s winner, Sheikh Hamdan’s Muarrab who will be having his first start for Ali Rashid Al Rayhi, will depart from stall five. Seeking his first victory since this race last year, when drawn seven, expect him to revert to the positive tactics that served so well last season.
Held up on Super Saturday, he failed to fire under Jim Crowley who said: “He is better than that – I imagine we will try and go forward this time.”
Delighted with his draw was Chris Hayes, victorious on Super Saturday in the course and distance Mahab Al Shimaal, won last year by Muarrab before following up in this, aboard Morawij for Dhruba Selvaratnam.
Hayes said: “He was third last year from the outside draw but, drawn well three weeks ago, he showed what he can do and we have a great draw again.”
Second in the trial was Cool Cowboy, who also finished third in the Godolphin Mile last year, for Doug Watson and Pat Dobbs. He actually seems to like the kickback and looks sure to be running on late.
Seemingly drawn worst of all is the favourite, Mind Your Biscuits whose trainer, Chad Summers, has yet to train a winner having been granted a licence just last month. Summers does not seem perturbed though and said: “He is a closer so the draw should not be an issue.”
The same applies to the evergreen 11-year-old Reynaldothewizard, winner of this in 2013 on Tapeta, for Satish Seemar and Richard Mullen.
The jockey said: “He may be 11 but he thinks he is two and is in great form.”
Seemar and Mullen have been associated with probably the most improved horse of the UAE season as a whole, North America.
A maiden when joining the yard, he is unbeaten after four local starts, all over the same one mile course and distance as the Godolphin Mile.
Most recently, he turned the Group 3 Firebreak Stakes into a procession and his success has clearly caught the eye of Ramzan Kadyrov, head of the Chechen Republic who has bought him this week.
Mullen said: “He has been a revelation and just keeps improving. We do not know how good he might be but he is very exciting.”
The race is being billed as a match with Sharp Azteca, trained in America by Jorge Navarro and a first UAE mount for Edgard Zayas considered the main danger.
Navarro is hoping to go one better than his sole previous local runner X Y Jet who was caught close home by the aforementioned Muarrab 12 months ago.
Saeed Bin Suroor and Mike de Kock have won 13 UAE Derby's, a race introduced in 2000, between them and including the first dozen editions of the race.
Bin Suroor seeks his eighth victory with Top Score and Thunder Snow, the latter looking his main hope. A Group 1 winner without a penalty and winner of the UAE 2,000 Guineas, if he stays, he has to be thereabouts under Christophe Soumillon.
The Belgian won this race in both 2010 and 2015 for De Kock on Mubtaahij and Musir respectively. Both are owned by Sheikh Mohd bin Khalifa Al Maktoum as is the South African’s contender this year, Fawree.
He will be ridden by Bernard Fayd’Herbe, the jockey he unceremoniously dumped on the Meydan dirt as the stalls opened on Super Saturday.
De Kock said: “This horse has never liked the stalls but we have done a lot of work with him, Bernard and a horse whisperer. Hopefully he will be fine now. Saturday is the acid test but he is a very nice horse.”
Aidan O'Brien saddles two runners, with Ryan Moore on Lancaster Bomber and Seamie Heffernan teaming up with Spirit Of Valor.
O'Brien said: "Lancaster Bomber's last two runs last year were very good. He wintered well and, while it will be his first run on dirt, we're happy with him and hoping for a good run.
"Spirit Of Valor took time to come to hand last year. He's ready to start and we're happy with him. It will also be his first time racing on dirt."