The Dubai World Cup Dream: Kiaran McLaughlin

American trainer Kiaran McLaughlin enjoyed career-defining success in 2007 when he saddled the brilliant Invasor to victory in the Dubai World Cup. He tells Vision about his hopes for Frosted, his exciting contender for this year’s race

Much of the build-up to the 2016 Dubai World Cup has centred on California Chrome, a horse who enjoys enduring popularity thanks to his rags-to-riches story and his distinctive white markings. But a strong field of 12 runners are set to line up for Saturday’s showpiece, and victory is far from guaranteed for last year’s second place. Challengers from France, Japan and the UAE will all be in opposition, while the biggest threat to Chrome’s chances could come in the shape of another American colt called Frosted, who bids to provide his trainer Kiaran McLaughlin with a second success in the world’s richest race.

“Everybody in the U.S. dreams of winning the Kentucky Derby, but for me, the Dubai World Cup is on equal footing,” says McLaughlin, who captured the World Cup in 2007 with the brilliant Invasor. That victory represented the culmination of a formative period spent in Dubai for McLaughlin, now based in New York, who was leading trainer in the UAE three times over the course of 10 years as Dubai began to establish itself as a major international training base.

McLaughlin has been an infrequent visitor to the emirate since that career-defining victory, but has returned with runners throughout this year’s carnival, and has been impressed by recent developments. He says: “I love Dubai and it’s been great for me to come back this year and see all the changes that have taken place. Meydan is an unbelievable facility and a great racetrack, and I feel very privileged to be back here competing at the highest level.”

Everybody in the U.S. dreams of winning the Kentucky Derby, but for me, the Dubai World Cup is on equal footing

Kiaran McLaughlin

In Frosted, he certainly seems to have found a World Cup contender worthy of comparison with Invasor. He says of the Godolphin-owned four-year-old: “Frosted had a great year in 2015, when he was unlucky to run into [U.S. Horse of the Year] American Pharoah in three good races. He’s a well-bred, beautiful individual who has been doing really well and is still improving.”

Frosted certainly has plenty in his favour on Saturday: he is drawn well in stall nine, with California Chrome to his outside; he showed a clear liking for the track and the dirt surface when bounding to victory in his prep-race in February; and he has the assistance of last year’s World Cup-winning jockey William Buick, undoubtedly one of the best in the business. McLaughlin adds: “I was so impressed with William Buick when he rode Frosted for the first time in February – he did a brilliant job. He rode him perfectly and the horse responded so well to him.”

Buick and McLaughlin will also team up with Confrontation in the Dubai Golden Shaheen on World Cup night, while Marking, another of the trainer’s leading chances, will be ridden by James Doyle in the Godolphin Mile. Make no mistake, though – it’s the World Cup itself which would mean more to McLaughlin than any other race.

“After spending 10 years in Dubai, to come back in 2007 and win the World Cup for Sheikh Hamdan was as good as it gets,” he says. “It was the highlight of my career, and to win it again would be a dream.”​