Racing at Meydan today may not be a Dubai World Cup Carnival meeting, but does feature numerous DWC Carnival aspirants throughout the seven-race card.
The evening is sponsored in its entirety by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum City—District One. Four of the handicaps, three on turf, are open to horses rated 89, which is one pound below the required mark for the carnival.
The fifth race, a 2000m turf handicap (District One Villa Award), is arguably the highlight on what really is a cracking card.
With the defection of Just a Penny, the weights are headed by Godolphin’s Saeed bin Suroor-trained Big Challenge and Satish Seemar-conditioned Recordman, respectively.
Big Challenge ran three times at the 2019 Dubai World Cup Carnival, all in January of last year and well beaten on each occasion.
Still, the 5-year-old gelded son of Sea the Stars must have had a setback, because he only ran twice back in Britain, seemingly failing to stay over 2800m at Chelmsford before an encouraging second over 2400m at Kempton.
Marc Monaghan takes the ride and said: “I am very much looking forward to the opportunity on what appears a decent ride in a strong race.”
Unsighted on his local and dirt debut at Jebel Ali in November, Recordman appeared to appreciate the switch to turf when winning stylishly over 2400m at Abu Dhabi a month later.
A 4-year-old gelded son of Dubawi, he was purchased at Tattersalls last February by former UAE champion jockey Ted Durcan, having won one of his seven UK outings for Godolphin and Bin Suroor.
Richard Mullen rides and said: “He did that nicely at Abu Dhabi and impressed me. Hopefully he is a Carnival horse.”
For HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Erwan Charpy saddled Mudaarab, beaten just a length when third in the Abu Dhabi race won by Recordman, having won his previous start in the capital over 2200m.
Charpy said: “He has been running well this season and, hopefully, will do so again but it is a wide open contest and very competitive.”
Trainer Fawzi Nass shares ownership of Valcartier with EERC (Emirates Entertainment Racing Club) and the 6-year-old gelded son of Redoute’s Choice is expected to fare much better than when ninth on his seasonal debut behind Recordman.
EERC spokesman, Justin Byrne, said: “We have always believed this is a Carnival horse and this race provides the perfect opportunity for him to prove it.”
In the 1600m turf handicap, the District One Residence Cup, Mohd Majaber will be hoping for a quick return on his recent purchase Billingsgate, sold just before Christmas at an ERA sale for AED125,000. He remains in the care of Musabbeh Al Mheiri and, under stable jockey Antonio Fresu, should make a bold attempt conceding weight to all bar one of his 15 rivals.
There is also a much-appreciated turf maiden, the District One Blueviews Stretch, over 1600m amid an action-packed card flush with full fields on Saturday evening.