Godolphin flex their muscles in turf races at Dubai World Cup meeting

Godolphin flex their muscles in turf races at Dubai World Cup meeting

It is one of those rare occasions that a Godolphin horse isn’t featuring in the $12 million Dubai World Cup but they more than make up for that with a strong presence on the four turf races on the card at Meydan Racecourse on Saturday.

Rebel’s Romance carries the royal blues’ hopes in the penultimate race and turf feature, the $6 million Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic.

The 2021 Group 2 UAE Derby winner has three Group/Grade 1 wins in Germany and the US and arrives on the back of his Group 3 success in The Amir Trophy in Doha last month.

“It was great to see Rebel’s Romance win in Qatar. He had a great spell two years ago, culminating with victory in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, and last year was a little stop-start,” Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby said of the six year old Dubawi gelding.

“He lost his confidence after clipping heels at Saratoga [unseating his rider in June last year], so we came back to the UK and went to Kempton [December] for an easier assignment.

“You could see afterwards that his confidence was back and we headed to Qatar with a horse who we felt was back on his A game.

“He has come here in great nick. It looks the strongest race of the evening, but the 12-furlong turf division is always strong internationally.

“We respect the opposition and I guess we can take positives from his wide draw (11) as the first turn comes up quickly at Meydan. Hopefully, William [Buick] can get him into a good position by the back stretch.”

Aidan O’Brien’s dual Derby winner Auguste Rodin and Japanese raider Liberty Island along with the Coronation Cup winner Emily Upjohn and French entry Junko are the horses to watch in the race.

Measured Time, a full brother to Rebel’s Romance and also trained by Appleby, has won five of his six career starts and runner up in the other.

He’s on the back of a first Group 1 success in the Jebel Hatta and two over the track and trip to afford the royal blues a big chance in the preceding $5 million Group 1 Dubai Turf.

“Measured Time has won both his starts at Meydan this season,” the trainer said of the four year.

“With the restructuring of the programme, the Jebel Hatta moved to January from Super Saturday, so we brought him here for a racecourse gallop earlier this month. His work there pleased us and he has done everything right since.

“He has his Group 1 win but this is another step up. We have had a lot of confidence in the horse. I feel that he is a sharper horse compared to Rebel Romance and we were probably stretching his stamina too much when he got beat over a mile and a half at Kempton.”

The Saeed bin Suroor-trained Real World is Godolphin’s second runner in the race.

Lord North, attempting to win the prize for a record extending fourth time, and Japan’s Do Duece and O’Brien’s Luxembourg are set to challenge the Godolphin runner.

Godolphin is triple handed in the Dubai Gold Cup. They are under three different trainers with Appleby running Siskany, John and Thady Gosden sending out Trawlerman, and Bin Suroor’s Passion And Glory completing the trio.

O’Brien’s Tower Of Strength and Roger Varian’s Eldar Eldarov are the two to watch in the race.

Godolphin’s Star Of Mystery has proven a revelation over Meydan’s turf sprint course this season and bids to become the first three-year-old to win the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint.

“Star Of Mystery has thrived out here over the winter,” Appleby said of the Kodiac filly.

“She was receiving weight in the Blue Point Sprint, when we were hoping to get some Group Black Type, but she was very impressive that day.

“She ran another strong race in the Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint, when you could potentially argue that she might have won with a better track position.

“Take nothing away from the winner Frost At Dawn, who has also been very consistent and sprinting looks to be her forte. I think both her and Star Of Mystery will be very competitive again with the weight allowance for three-year-old fillies.”

The nine-race card gets under way with the first of the five races on the dirt, the Group 1 Dubai Kahayla Classic for the Purebred Arabians in which Saudi Arabia’s Nasser Mutlaq Alkahtani-trained pair Asfan Al Khalediah and Tilal Al Khalediah appear to be the horses to beat.

Afan Al Khalediah is undefeated in 14 starts and his stable companion is nine from 10, beaten into second in a photo.

Saudi Crown, third in the Saudi Cup last month, looks the pick of the lot in the Group 2 Godolphin Mile.

The Saudi Derby winner Forever Young can replicate that performance in the UAE Derby while Nakatomi can get one across the board for the Americans in a tricky Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen.

Updated: March 29, 2024, 12:05 PM

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