Super Saturday Time!

Three SA runners can make us proud

Super Saturday, the second biggest fixture of the UAE horseracing season, is upon us.

Dubai Millenium

Introduced in 2003 as a dress rehearsal for the Dubai World Cup card three weeks later, all seven races are mirror images of a race to be contested on that ultra-valuable occasion when US$30 million will be distributed in prize money.

Pride of place goes to the Gr1 $400,000 Al Maktoum Challenge R3 sponsored by Emirates Airline over the same 2000m dirt trip as the $10million Dubai World Cup.

Three horses have won both races –Dubai Millennium (2000), Street Cry (2002) and Electrocutionist (2006)– and all were trained by Saeed bin Suroor, who has saddled the winner of this race on no less than 11 occasions for Godolphin.

Owner and trainer combine this year with both Thunder Snow and Team Talk with the former, the mount of Oisin Murphy, appearing to hold the strongest claims. Normally partnered by Christophe Soumillon, who is suspended, Thunder Snow is a dual Gr 1 winner in Europe, as well as landing both the UAE 2000 Guineas (Gr3) and UAE Derby (Gr2) last year.

His most recent effort was a local victory in the 1900m Al Maktoum Challenge R2 (G2) four weeks ago. Bin Suroor has also won both the second and third rounds with Prince Bishop and Hunter’s Light, in 2013 and 2014. Team Talk, meanwhile, will be making his dirt debut on just his sixth career start. Pat Cosgrave rides.

Janoobi – distance is a worry

The turf feature is the Group 1 $300,000 Jebel Hatta over the same 1800m as the $6 million Dubai Turf sponsored by DP World (G1) in three weeks’ time. Godolphin are responsible for no less than five of the 11 declared runners, with Benbatl and rider Oisin Murphy looking to make it three wins from as many starts during the 2018 Dubai World Cup Carnival for the bin Suroor trainee. Bin Suroor also saddles Leshlaa and Promising Run.

The two highest-rated horses in the field, both South Africans, each warrant consideration. Brett Crawford-conditioned 2017 J & B Met (Gr1) winner Whisky Baron should appreciate the stretch out from his comeback fourth in the Zabeel Mile (Gr2) on February 22nd, which was won by Mike de Kock-trained Janoobi in determined style.

“I’m reluctant to race him on dirt, a bad race could hurt him. He is in really good form and his work is great. The big question mark is the trip and I think it’s a very competitive field,” said Mike de Kock of Janoobi.

Al Sahem – big test

The Dubai City of Gold (Gr2), over 2410m on the turf course and with a $250,000 purse, closes the night and features the return of Gr1 winner Hawkbill for Godolphin and Appleby. Fellow banner-mates Gold Star, Frontiersman and Best Solution will likely give the emblazoned chestnut all he can handle on return, while South African Gr1 winner Al Sahem will likely move forward in this outing for trainer Mike de Kock.

“He’s improved in work but on ratings I’m not quite sure he is good enough. It’s a big test for him,” said Mike de Kock of Al Sahem.

The racecard – click here

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