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McLaughlin Marking Up His Options

Marking represents Godolphin and trainer, Kiaran McLaughlin in the Godolphin Mile at Dubai World Cup day on Saturday March 26

Credit: Dubai Racing Club // Andrew Watkins

McLaughlin Marking Up His Options

By Joe Kristufek

One of the top qualities of a good trainer is their ability to understand the talents of their horses and place them where they have the best chance of success.

At the beginning of the Dubai World Cup Carnival, Team McLaughlin had three horses with comparable abilities, all proven to be effective between 1200 to 1600m on dirt, in Confrontation (USA), Marking (USA) and Watershed (USA).

Confrontation won the Firebreak Stakes Sponsored By EGA over 1600m on February 4 and Marking won the Al Naboodah National Plant Trophy three weeks later over the shorter 1200m distance, but when it was time to enter for Dubai World Cup Night, their roles were reversed.

"We`ve always kind of had the Godolphin Mile (sponsored by Meydan Sobha) in mind for Marking," assistant trainer Neal McLaughlin said. "He`s by Bernardini, so we think he`ll be really good at 1800m or even 2000m later in the year back in the States. He reminds us a lot of Key of Luck, who won the here in 1996 by 20 lengths. They`re both fast but can carry their speed."

"Marking has had some gate issues and in a sprint against a high calibre speed horse like (likely Golden Shaheen favourite X Y Jet) you can`t give an inch," trainer Kiaran McLaughlin added. "In a 1600m race, if he does miss a beat at the start, he can recover and get in position without the mistake being nearly as costly."

"We would prefer an outside trip with Marking," Neal McLaughlin said. "With a one-turn mile, there`s a long run down the backstretch. He has a high cruising speed so we`d like to be on the lead or close to it. He doesn`t love kickback. We`d like to run with a clean face."

As for Confrontation in the Dubai Golden Shaheen sponsored by Gulf News the assistant reported: "If you look back, some of his best form is sprinting.

“We have Marking for the Mile. We could have run Confrontation there too but we want to give Sheikh Mohamed separate rooting interests on Dubai World Cup Night. He has the speed to stay close and a short burst that makes him dangerous in sprints, if you time it right. He`s an interesting horse in good form and we think we have him in the optimum spot."

"We like Confrontation on the cutback, especially if other horses can keep X Y Jet honest, " Kiaran McLaughlin added, "We know our horse will be running strongly at the end."

The third wheel in the McLaughlin sprint machine, Watershed, failed to win in two starts at the Dubai World Cup Carnival, finishing a late closing third behind stablemate Confrontation in the Firebreak over 1600m before crossing the line sixth in Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 at 2000m.

"He`s a deep closer, which hasn`t been the right style at Meydan this season and since we had two others that fit better, we thought it was best to save him for American racing," Neil McLaughlin explained.

Will Team McLaughlin`s evaluations and subsequent race placing decisions pay off on Dubai World Cup Night? Only time will tell.

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