The first four meetings of the 2017 Dubai World Cup Carnival provided historic milestones, thrilling finishes and performances full of potential. Sam Price reviews the action
Already the leading trainer in the history of the event, Saeed Bin Suroor gained a landmark 200th Dubai World Cup Carnival victory when Very Special prevailed in a tight finish to the Group 2 Cape Verdi on 26 January. The classy mare, ridden by British champion jockey Jim Crowley, was one of five winners on a red-letter night for Team Godolphin, and Bin Suroor was delighted with her performance – and with his own personal achievement. “It’s great to bring up the 200th win at the Carnival,” he said afterwards. “It’s the result of a lot of teamwork and the support of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, who is behind all our success. This is special because Dubai is my hometown.”
Not to be outdone by his colleague, Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby fired in six Carnival winners across January, with none more impressive than his UAE 2,000 Guineas Trial winner Fly At Dawn. The three-year-old has taken well to Meydan’s dirt track and won nicely under Mickael Barzalona last week to set up a mouth-watering UAE Guineas clash with Bin Suroor’s Thunder Snow on 11 February.
Here to Stay
Main Stay’s victory in a dirt handicap on 19 January made history, as he became the first horse from the Republic of Korea to win a race in the UAE. It was only a year ago that the nation sent its first runners to the emirate, so to register a success so quickly says much for the potential of the burgeoning training centre. “He is a Korean-bred and Korean-trained horse, so it has very touching meaning for us,” said trainer Young Kwan-Kim, who is also preparing 2016 Korean horse of the year Triple Nine for a potential run on Dubai World Cup night.
Local trainers have also been in the winner’s enclosure, and on 12 January Reynaldothewizard – trained in Dubai by Satish Seemar – showed that age is no barrier to success when winning a third consecutive Dubawi Stakes. For an 11-year-old dirt sprinter, that’s some effort. A week earlier, Meydan veteran Le Bernardin made it back-to-back victories in the first round of the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge for trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe, who is campaigning his charge towards the Godolphin Mile.
The 2017 Dubai World Cup Carnival continues with five meetings from 2-23 February, in the build-up to “Super Saturday” on 4 March and Dubai World Cup night on 25 March