French on show at Dubai World Cup Meeting
23 March 2018
On Saturday 31st March, Dubai stages its annual World Cup meeting at Meydan racecourse in the United Arab Emirates. This will, once again, see French horses pit themselves at the highest level against some of the best horses in the world. At the end of January, the Emirates Racing Association, which governs the sport locally, announced that total prizemoney for the day would extend to US$30m, with the World Cup itself accounting for a third of that.
Bob Baffert, who has won the big event three times since ints inception in 1996, will be in the limelight once more as he sends out dual-Grade 1 winner and Breeders’ Cup Classic third, West Coast. He saddled last year’s facile winner, Arrogate, and appears to be headed for a fourth title - and could be assisted by Collected who finished ahead of his stablemate at Del Mar last November. André Fabre’s Talismanic, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Turf, made a successful seasonal debut on the Chantilly polytrack earlier in the month and will also take his chances. Although principally a turf horse, if his handler has opted to run him on dirt, one should sit up and take note.
One of the big French hopes of the day is Vazirabad. Winner of the last two editions of the Dubai Gold Cup, he was recently beaten on re-entry but that will not perturb trainer Alain de Royer Dupré since the horse finished second in the same race twelve months earlier before going on to achieve his main objective. The Michael Bell-trained Big Orange, who finished runner-up and fourth respectively to the Aga Khan’s horse in the past two years, looks set to take his chances once more. Another likely contender is Charlie Appleby’s Rare Rhythm.
The Sheema Classic will have at least two French runners; Cloth Of Stars, who was beaten by Talismanic on his seasonal bow early March, appears to have the best chance. Recent Cagnes-sur-Mer Listed winner, Garlingari, had been expected to make the trip but has been ruled out following a below-par performance in the Gr.3 Prix Exbury last weekend. The high-class Poet’s Word and the Japanese-trained Rey De Oro appear to be the principal threats to André Fabre’s charge.
A pair of French-trained horses, Zarak and Heshem, finished second and third in the 2017 Dubai Turf. So far, no obvious French candidates have been put forward for this year’s running, possibly due to the presence of Benbatl and the Japanese pair of Vivlos and Real Steel.
Didier Guillemin’s The Right Man, who won the Al Quoz Sprint last year to the surprise of many, is currently on the sidelines and will not be attempting the double, which leaves the door wide open for Blue Point, Ertijaal and Jungle Cat.
The Golden Shaheen and Dubai Mile are run on dirt and provide other opportunities for American horses to sparkle. The Kahayla Classic, the most prestigious of purebred arab races, is another opportune moment for French breeding to put itself front and centre with Freddy Sanchez’s five year-old Bandar, and the ever-consistent Nafees trained by Charles Gourdain.
Picture: Vazirabad one of the leading french hope at Wolrd Cup Meeting
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