Speedsters Clash At Meydan Later Today

Sixth Carnival meeting - off at 16h00

Defending Champion Lazuli and 2021 winner Equilateral are among 13 speedsters set to clash in the Gr2 Meydan Sprint, the highlight of today’s sixth Carnival meeting.

The 1000m turf dash has attracted an international line-up, with horses from the UK, Ireland and the Czech Republic taking on Godolphin’s Lazuli, who warmed up for this with a smooth win over course and distance a month ago.

Lazuli defends his title on Friday evening (Pic – DRC)

He is engaged in a private battle with Man Of Promise, also trained by Charlie Appleby, who takes his chance here from stall five, having finished second in the Listed Dubai Sprint last time out. When racing against each other, Lazuli and Man Of Promise have a win each.

“Lazuli is tried and tested over five furlongs at Meydan and this is his optimum trip,” said Appleby. “He is in great form and, even with his draw in stall one, he has speed horses around him and looks the one to beat.

“Man Of Promise ran a good solid race over this distance in the Ertijaal Dubai Dash and seems to be taking his racing better these days.”

The local challenge is bolstered by the smart Khuzaam, trained by Doug Watson, winner of the Listed Jebel Ali Sprint last season. He makes his first start since finishing seventh in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint in March.

“Khuzaam has taken a bit of time to come around, but is really well,” said Watson. “The long layoff is a worry but he’s a really nice horse.”

From overseas comes Czech raider Ponntos, third to Lazuli last time, while Irish trainer Johnny Murtagh is represented by the speedy filly Ladies Church, who takes a notable drop in grade after running in the Group 1 Flying Five Stakes last time out.

“She is in very good form, but like all our horses who travelled to Dubai this season, she will probably need her first run of the year,” said Murtagh, who has targeted the Carnival for the first time this year.

The evening’s main dirt race is the G3 UAE 2000 Guineas, race six, which dates back to 2000. The 2020 edition was won by the Doug O’Neill-trained Fore Left and the California-based handler returns with another exciting candidate in Tall Boy. A maiden after four starts, the son of Lookin At Lucky has kept some good company and was fourth in the G2 Los Alamitos Futurity on his most recent start in December.

“The reason he’s in Dubai is because we think he’s capable of being pointed to the UAE Derby,” said Leandro Mora, Assistant Trainer. “He has two Kentucky Derby points already and we like him because he’s run three tough races against Bob Baffert horses. He’s a gentle giant with a lot of talent.

“We think this race might suit him as he loves the surface at Meydan.”

The best of the local challenge looks to be Shirl’s Bee, a winner of his only start for trainer Doug Watson. “Shirl’s Bee would be the most interesting of our runners on Friday,” said the seven-time UAE Champion Trainer. “He has been training well and we like him a lot. He has a good draw and we’re really looking forward to seeing him run.”

Other notable contenders are Ahmad Bin Harmash’s Mr Raj, a five-length maiden winner last month, and Tiger Nation, winner of both of his starts so far for trainer Salem Bin Ghadayer.

“Tiger Nation came out of the Guineas Trial well,” said the trainer. “He has a wide draw [9] but he has natural speed and we’re hoping he can control the race and be there or thereabouts.”

The Listed Business Bay Challenge, race seven, is one of the most competitive on the card with 11 taking their chance over 1400metres on turf. Saeed Bin Suroor won this race last year with Storm Damage and he sends out Land Of Legends, Shining Blue and Major Partnership.

“Shining Blue won nicely in a handicap over this course and trip last month, said Bin Suroor. “He has done well since and is ready to go again. Land Of Legends has won a big race over this distance in the past and we wanted to give him a chance back over seven furlongs as he displays plenty of speed in his races. Major Partnership never shows a great deal in the mornings but I’m hoping he is saving it for the racecourse.”

Run over the same course and distance as the $12million Dubai World Cup, the Curlin Handicap, race four, is a trial of sorts for that race and this year’s renewal has an open-looking field of 12. They include Hypothetical, seventh in the World Cup last year, who makes his seasonal debut for Bin Ghadayer and Jockey Mickael Barzalona.

“I need to give him one race before Maktoum Challenge Round 3 on Super Saturday,” said Bin Ghadayer. “He has a wide draw and top weight, but it’s a prep race and he’s 80-85 per cent fit.”

Franz Strauss and Withering, first and second here over 1900metres two weeks ago, look interesting runners, as does White Wolf, who switches to dirt for the first time for Bin Suroor.

Watson fields two, his 2022 Jebel Ali Stakes winner Lost Eden being joined by stable stalwart Thegreatcollection, who makes his 35th local start.

“Both horses in the Curlin are doing well,” said Watson. “It’s a tough race but we are hoping they both put in good efforts.”

Bin Ghadayer runs local debutant Desert Angel in the 1600m dirt handicap, race two. The four-year-old won three of his 11 starts in the UK and tries this surface for the first time.

“We just received Desert Angel from Charles Hills,” said Bin Ghadayer. “He’s had around six gallops with me. We had two options for him; we could have gone to the 2000m turf, as his last win at Newmarket was over that distance, but he’s trained very well on dirt so I prefer to start with him on dirt over a mile. The horse is fit enough for the race.”

Desert Angel’s rivals include Quality Boone, a good fourth last time out on his return from injury. “He came out well from his last run, which he needed to sharpen up his condition,” said trainer Julio Olascoaga. “We’re expecting a good run from him.”

The first race on the card, a turf handicap over 2000m, has a field of 14 including Annerville for Murtagh, who finished ninth over this course and distance two weeks ago.

“She was unsuited by the slow conditions last time out, said the trainer. “We’re hoping for a much better performance this time around.”

Two races later, nine three-year-olds clash on turf in the Dubai Trophy over 1200m. The George Boughey-trained Al Dasim, was impressive last time out when beating Fast-Uno, who reopposes, by three lengths. He should be hard to beat again in the hands of Mickael Barzalona.

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