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Dubai World Cup 2018 Features: Talismanic, Gold Town, Lancaster Bomber/Idaho, Reynaldothewizard

Photo: Talismanic (DRC/Neville Hopwood)

Talismanic is Not Just a Pretty Face

French handler Andre Fabre, who is hoping that Talismanic can provide him with a victory in the Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline on Saturday, hardly needs an introduction.

A 24-times champion trainer in France, he was the first European trainer to make it onto the honor roll of the Breeders’ Cup Classic thanks to the unheralded Arcangues. He has also scored in countless classic races like the Epsom Derby, the Prix du Jockey Club, as well as the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, which he has lifted an astonishing seven times. The one race though that has eluded him so far is the Dubai World Cup.

Fabre, who is Godolphin’s main trainer in France, has been to Dubai many times, but the striking Talismanic, whose bold face and white stockings attracts attention wherever he runs, might be his best chance yet to win the big race.

“Talismanic has always been a very good horse,” confirmed Fabre, who is based in Chantilly, France. “Remember he was fourth in the Prix du Jockey Club at three and that was the year that the horse was affected by the virus.”

The virus, which struck his yard in 2016, today is only a distant memory and certainly hasn’t stopped the 5-year-old son of Medaglia d’Oro and Magic Mission from turning into a top-class performer. When he lined up at the start of the Breeders’ Cup Turf in Del Mar last year, he might have only been a Group 2 winner, but that quickly changed when he was launched down the straight by Godolphin’s jockey Mickael Barzalona.

“In France, most of the time there was no pace and so he had to make the running,” the trainer said. “The only race where there was some pace was the Prix Maurice de Nieuil (G2) where he came from behind and showed some acceleration. And that was the same in the Breeders’ Cup where he also came from behind. In races with no pace it is easy to get trapped.”

There should be ample pace in this year’s edition of the Dubai World Cup, but it will be Talismanic’s first attempt on the dirt and his trainer admitted: “I have to be fair, there is still a question mark about the surface. I didn’t want to run Talismanic and Cloth of Stars in the same race and Talismanic was in great shape, so I thought I’d line him up in this race.

“My feeling is that to run on dirt you need more strength. It is a surface that favours stamina and resistance more than speed. And Talismanic has the confirmation and the pedigree to act on this surface.”

Fabre concluded: “I don’t know what sort of chance he has, I have no idea. It is a big race with the horses from North America and Japan. It is very exciting, and I respect all the American horses, but there is no Curlin or Arrogate this year.”

An Andre Fabre trained contender always commands respect and Talismanic is no exception. On Saturday the seasoned traveller will be ready for the big moment and should he take to the surface, he could well provide Fabre with one of those few podiums that are still missing in his illustrious career.
-Liz Price, DWC Notes Team


Appleby Looks to Strike Gold for the First Time

Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby is looking to his brilliant Gold Town to fulfil a lifetime ambition and provide him with Dubai World Cup night win in the US $2 million UAE Derby sponsored by The Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group.

British-born Appleby is entering his fifth full year as trainer to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s operation but has yet to saddle a winner on this dazzling global stage.

He came closest when Ahtoug was beaten a neck in the Al Quoz Sprint of 2014 and Gold Town holds the leading claims in the UAE Derby after two runaway wins at the Dubai Racing Carnival.

“I have spoken to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed about the horse and we are all hopeful,” Appleby said.

“I am excited and have always been lucky in this position in that I have never had immense pressure put on me and therefore that allows everyone to do their job and make the right decisions.

“I have not had a winner on Dubai World Cup night yet so that is on my bucket list. I say to all the lads that it is an achievement to get a horse to World Cup night and anything on top is a bonus.”

Gold Town will be trying to go one place better than his father Street Cry did in the UAE Derby seventeen years ago and heads into Saturday’s race after stunning victories in the Guineas Trial and the UAE 2000 Guineas Sponsored By Al Tayer Motors (G3).

“What we have all seen out here has visually been very impressive,” Appleby said. “We were hopeful that he would do what he has given he is by Street Cry and we have had this as our target from a long way out. It doesn’t always work out but so far he has done everything that has been asked of him.

“He ticks a lot of boxes – he has home advantage, he has had two runs on the surface and is a Guineas Trial and a Guineas winner but is taking on a different calibre of horse this time. This is going to be a big step up for him but he goes into it in great order.”

Street Cry went on to land a Dubai World Cup the year after finishing second in the Derby and Appleby is plotting for Gold Town to be back in 2019.
“There is no doubt he is a better horse on this dirt surface,” the Marmoom-based trainer said. “He is by Street Cry and my own personal view is they like a nice flat track, the undulations in Europe don’t suit them so there is no point running on a track that doesn’t suit.

“Even if he doesn’t go to America he will stay on dirt and come back here next year for the Maktoum Challenges and we will see where we go.”

The American trip Appleby refers to is a possible run in the Kentucky Derby, and he added: “Everyone is asking if we are going to go to the Kentucky Derby but everyone will find out what we are doing at the same time I do. It’s a point-based entry system so he needs the points but he needs to go and win on Saturday to justify going. If he wins he will be going, if he gets beat he probably won’t.”

And a win on Saturday would be much more than an entry ticket to Kentucky, it would be a lifetime dream achieved for Appleby.
-Martin Kelly, DWC Notes Team


O’Brien Planning for Strong Showing On Saturday

They won’t be the main contenders for the two most valuable turf races on the Dubai World Cup card but trainer Aidan O’Brien believes Idaho and Lancaster Bomber should command plenty of respect in their Saturday evening assignments at Meydan.

Idaho contests the Longines Dubai Sheema Classic, a race in which his record-breaking handler has a very good record, having won it in 2013 with St Nicholas Abbey, runner-up 12 months prior. Last year O’Brien also prepared Seventh Heaven to finish second to Jack Hobbs.

Perhaps there is a temptation to underrate Idaho. Perhaps he remains tarnished by a stumble in the 2016 St Leger that deposited his jockey on the Doncaster turf. That said, his best form when placing in both the Epsom and Irish Derbies, allied with victories in the Great Voltiguer and the Hardwicke Stakes, should mean he is taken very seriously this weekend.

The X-factor, O’Brien believes, is not so much his ability on the track, but rather how he handles the rigours of travel, something that is slightly unfortunate as his older brother, the mighty Highland Reel, won seven Group 1 races in three continents.

But even Highland Reel failed to place in either of his two starts in the Longines Dubai Sheema Classic, so this is a good opportunity for Idaho to get one over his exalted sibling.

“It took us a while to get his travelling routine right. He went across to America and Canada a few times and was never really himself. His best run was when he finished fifth in the Japan Cup, always a very strong race. He shipped better then and that was a longer trip, too,” O’Brien said.

“He is entitled to run well on Saturday as he is bit more experienced. He has a nice draw in two and seems to have travelled well so we’re hopeful.”

Ballydoyle’s record in the Dubai Turf is not as good – none of their four runners to date have finished better than seventh – so one as consistent as Lancaster Bomber might well better on that score at the very least.

It must frustrate that Lancaster Bomber has just one win in a maiden from 15 career starts to his name. Meanwhile, he counts five second-placed finishes in Group 1 races, including two Breeders’ Cups and the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot. It is even a little reminiscent of his half-brother, Excelebration, who placed in five Group 1 races.

“Lancaster Bomber has progressed well from three to four. He ran at this meeting last year when a good fourth in the UAE Derby so he knows the environment. Maybe running him on the dirt is something we will keep in mind for later, but for now nine furlongs (1800m) might be as far as he wants to go,” O’Brien remarked.

“He is one of the highest-rated horses in the race and he loves the fast ground he will get at Meydan. He’s a very hardy horse and he could travel plenty this year.”
-Jeremy Greene, DWC Notes Team


Seemar Hopes For More Magic From The Wizard

If Reynaldothewizard is within striking distance of the leaders in the closing stages of the Dubai Golden Shaheen sponsored by Gulf News on Saturday, the iconic falcon roof on the Meydan grandstand could be in danger of being lifted off, according to trainer Satish Seemar.

“Everybody knows about Reynaldo, perhaps more than about any other horse in the UAE,” he said. “He’s got fan clubs everywhere, and when he’s entered, I get emails, messages and WhatsApps from around the world.

“He’s a very special horse for me and everyone at Zabeel Stables, simply because he’s been here the longest of any horse I’ve ever had.”

Seemar and his team, including assistant Bhupat Seemar, stable jockey Richard Mullen, who has ridden Reynaldothewizard in all but the first of his 23 outings in Dubai, and his most recent regular work-rider Paul Chandelier, have carefully managed his career.

Their dedication to ensuring he is not over-stretched is evident from the small number of outings he has had relative to the time he has been in the yard. Although 2018 is the 11th year in which he has raced, Saturday’s run will be only his 25th in eight seasons in Dubai, where he has won ten times and earned almost US $2million of prize-money.

Seemar said: “We know him inside out, from his mentality to his physical ability, and only want to race him two or three times a year. He’s a true professional, and always has been. Top-class athletes are very disciplined, and he’s like that in animal form. He loves his sleep and loves to go and train.

“We’ve never tried to change him, from the age of three when he came here from the US. For a long time Reynaldo has been ridden at home by Paul, who’s very rarely said to me, ‘Boss, he’s not in the mood today.’

“Because of his experience and being the resident boss around the stable, he knows too much. So, sometimes we have to cheat him into doing his best work at home. We take him the other way round, or start him off at different positions on the track, for instance.

“He’s got our number, so we leave things to him. He knows that when we put on the blinkers, he’s supposed to do his best work.”

At the age of 12, Reynaldothewizard has at least three years over the next oldest rival in the Dubai Golden Shaheen, which he won in 2013, missed for the following two years but then ran fourth to Muarrab in 2016 and eighth behind Mind Your Biscuits last year.

Seemar reflected: “People ask me why he’s running at this age, and the answer is simple - he wants to do it. We never force him to do anything, or put him in any danger. He’s missed more than one World Cup meeting because I didn’t think he was quite right within himself.

“In his last run in the Al Shindagha Sprint he seemed to be beaten 300m out, and standing by the rail I was beginning to the old boy wants to retire. Just then, something happened in his head and he became a rocket; he wanted to win and he came third, flying at the end.

“He’s okay right now. In fact, this week there’s been an extra spring in his step, and he’s looked happier than ever. Richard rode him in last piece of serious work on Monday, and you wouldn’t think Reynaldo was an old man. He acted as if he was having a midlife crisis.

“He will tell me when he’s ready to retire. Under the Emirates Racing Authority rules he can’t go beyond the age of 13, so this could be his last World Cup meeting, although I’ve heard that if he runs well to the end of this year, he can complete the season. But let’s see what happens on Saturday first.”

-Howard Wright, DWC Notes Team