July Winner Takes On Big Boys

'Maybe we should have gone for the Sheema Classic'

While South African racing fans shouting for July winner Marinaresco may not agree with the status quo, the Charlie Appleby trained pair of Cross Counter and Ispolini are attracting all the attention in the Gr2 Dubai Gold Cup.

Part owner of the South African star, Marsh Shirtliff has already conceded that the plan to target a ‘softer race’ for the Silvano gelding may have backfired and wondered this week whether it would not have been better to have gone the Sheema Classic route.

Flashback to 2018 July – Marinaresco storms home

“Besides the $6 million dollar stake – as opposed to the $1,5 million of the Gold Cup – we are bumping Charlie Appleby’s hotshots. But one never knows and we are happy to take our chances and do our best,” said the sporting leading SA owner.

Read Mash Shirtliff’s thoughts

He was referring to Cross Counter who provided the Godolphin trainer with one of his most memorable victories last season when he lifted Australia’s favourite race, the Melbourne Cup. Lightly raced, he is going to make his seasonal reappearance in this race that had been dominated by Vazirabad for the last three years. Cross Counter, who is ridden by William Buick, has drawn stall number nine, while his stable companion Ispolini will leave from stall number six.

Cross Counter wins the Melbourne Cup

Unlike Cross Counter, the Brett Doyle partnered Ispolini has run three times already at Meydan this year and was last seen when he kicked clear from Red Galileo in the Gr3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy. However, the Freddy Head trained Prix du Cadran winner Call the Wind could throw a spanner into the works here, as he seems to be thriving in the sun of Dubai. A very late developer, he prepared his bid in France with a prep race over a much shorter trip than the 3200 meters he will face on Saturday.

Godolphin trainer, Charlie Appleby (left)

“He has a lot of speed,” confirmed his handler. “He was a late developer and won the 4000m Prix du Cadran on his first attempt over that trip. But he could drop back in trip this season, as he has the speed. We shall see how this race goes.”

Call The Wind is drawn in two, next to Red Galileo in three, who is one of the outsiders. Platinum Warrior has drawn four, Prince of Arran five, Sharpalo seven, Team Talk eight, while Hong Kong raider Gold Mount got the outside draw of 10.

The Racing Post reports that defending champion and early favourite Thunder Snow has been pushed out to 11-2 (from 4s) for the Dubai World Cup itself after being drawn 12 of 13 for the $12-million contest.

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