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Three Group 1 Races Highlight US$1.8m Super Saturday Card Sponsored by Emirates

Prince Bishop (IRE)
Photo: Cedric Lane (UAEracingpics@gmail.com)

Vital Dubai World Cup Clues Available From Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3

First race 4:30pm. Tickets available www.meydan.ae or from Ticket Sales Office on the day

Super Saturday has finally arrived at Meydan Racecourse, the second biggest meeting of the UAE season and the dress rehearsal for Dubai World Cup night in three weeks’ time.

All eight races that appear on the Emirates-sponsored card have a ‘mirror image’ race on Dubai World Cup, offering trainers a valuable opportunity to test their charges ahead of the world’s richest raceday.

The official feature is the Group 1 third and final round of the Al Maktoum Challenge, over the same 2000m all-weather course and distance as the $10million Dubai World Cup.

Fourteen have been declared, including the Saeed bin Suroor-trained pair of Prince Bishop and African Story, first and second respectively in the Group 2 middle round (1900m all-weather) of the Al Maktoum Challenge just over four weeks ago.

Bin Suroor has won this prestigious race on three occasions with subsequent Dubai World Cup winners and has landed nine Al Maktoum Challenge R3 races in total. The great Dubai Millennium (2000), Street Cry (2002) and Electrocutionist (2006) have all won this race for Bin Suroor before going on to land the $10m race.

Kieren Fallon again rides Prince Bishop with William Buick replacing suspended stable jockey, Silvestre De Sousa, on African Story, winner of the Group 3 Burj Nahaar (160m all-weather) in each of the last two seasons on Super Saturday.

“Both are in good form and have come out of that race well,” said Saeed bin Suroor. “Prince Bishop looked better than ever winning that and I was really pleased with him. He has been working well since and Kieren Fallon gets on really well with him. “African Story needed that run a month ago and has improved a lot fitness-wise since. We think 2000m is his trip now and he loves the all-weather surface.

“Hopefully both will run well but it is a good race.”

Fellow Godolphin handler, Charlie Appleby, is saddling his first Super Saturday runners and relies on Cat O’Mountain in the feature. Ultra impressive when winning a 2200m all-weather handicap on his local debut, he then disappointed in a handicap over Saturday’s course and distance. Stable jockey, Mickael Barzalona rides.

“He was a disappointment last time but nothing really went right for him in the race so we will put a line through it and give him a chance to prove himself,” said Appleby.

“Obviously it is a big step up in class but hopefully he merits it.”

The Satish Seemar-trained Zambucca, third in the middle round of the three-race series when stable companion Surfer (third in this concluding round last year) was eighth, is one of three runners in the race for his trainer who also saddles Ottoman Empire.

South African, Mike De Kock, seeking a third victory in the race, saddles Alexandra Palace and Sanshaawes with stable jockey, Christophe Soumillon, on the latter, seeking a third consecutive Meydan Racecourse victory.

De Kock said: “They are both in good form but taking a big step up in grade. Hopefully they can at least be competitive in what is obviously a good race.”

Elleval, runner-up in last year’s UAE Derby, also won his most recent Meydan Racecourse outing and is another who seems to save his best for the all-weather. He is representing Ireland and trainer David Marnane who said: “It is very exciting to have runners at this meeting, especially Elleval in the big race of the night. He loves this all-weather surface and we were delighted with his win last time.

“To have a runner in the Dubai World Cup would be amazing and this is his chance to prove he merits a place in three weeks.

“We are really looking forward to it.

Joshua Tree, second to Opinion Poll in the Dubai Gold Cup, on World Cup night 2012, for Marco Botti, is now trained by Ed Dunlop and is another interesting contender. Winner of the Group 1 Canadian International in each of the last three seasons, he has also won in Ireland, England, France and Qatar.
Group 1 Jebel Hatta – 1800m, Turf Course

The second Thoroughbred Group 1 on the card is the Jebel Hatta, the final race on the card and over the same 1800m turf course and distance as the Dubai Duty Free.

Again 14 have been declared with South African, Mike De Kock, leading the way in terms of numbers, being responsible for four runners.

Stable jockey, Christophe Soumillon, partners Vercingetorix, winner of all five career starts to date, including a Group 1 in his native land and a course and distance handicap on his local debut.

Stable companion Anaerobio, the mount of Pat Cosgrave, is seeking a third 2014 Meydan Racecourse victory, while Mushreq, is another looking for a second Dubai World Cup Carnival win this year. He will be ridden by Paul Hanagan with Richard Hughes aboard the trainer’s fourth runner, Mars.

“It is great to have four horses good enough to contest this calibre of race,” said De Kock. “We think all four are capable of running well with Mushreq and Vercingetorix already course and distance winners. We were particularly pleased with Vercingetorix’s win as he did not travel well from South Africa through quarantine.

“The trip may stretch Anaerobio but he has been in good form and Mars has been improving in his work. We tried him on the all-weather but he should appreciate this return to turf.

“It is a good race, as you would expect, but hopefully all four can be competitive.”
De Kock has won the race on three previous occasions.

Godolphin trainer, Charlie Appleby introduces a fascinating new runner to the UAE in the shape of Vancouverite, previously with Andre Fabre in France and last seen when ninth in the Group 2 Prix Niel having previously won at Group 2 level.

Appleby said: “We hope he is a genuine Dubai Duty Free contender so this is the obvious spot for him. He is in good form at home, though not a flashy worker but has done everything we have asked of him.

“I am looking forward to getting him on the track.”

Fellow Godolphin handler, Saeed bin Suroor who has won the race four times, including last year with subsequent Dubai Duty Free winner Sajjhaa, relies on Quick Wit.

The trainer said: “He was a little disappointing last time but has been working very well and we are keen to give him a crack at a good race like this. Hopefully he will run well.”

Before winning this last year, Sajjhaa had won the Group 2 Balanchine Stakes over Saturday’s course and distance and this year’s impressive winner of that race, L’Amour De Ma Vie trained by French-based Swede, Pia Brandt, will try and emulate her.

Trade Storm, winner of last year’s Group 2 Zabeel Mile for David Simcock, was second in that same race this year and has to be feared, along with Australian Group 1 winner, Linton.

Other equine stars to look out for include Mount Athos, Heavy Metal, Penglai Pavilion, Battle of Marengo and Meandre, who clash in the Group 2 Dubai City Of Gold over the same 2400m turf course and distance as the Dubai Sheema Classic.

With African Story, winner of the Group 3 Burj Nahaar (1600m, all-weather) taking his chance in the Al Maktoum Chalenge R3 III, all eyes will be on the Joey Ramsden-trained Variety Club in this year’s renewal.

The dual South African Horse Of The Year was impressive winning the Group 3 Firebreak Stakes on his local debut three weeks ago.

The Ernst Oertel-trained Capital Attraction, second in this last year, is among the opposition, as is this year’s Al Maktoum Challenge I heroine Shuruq, also winner of last year’s UAE Oaks, for Godolphin.
Group 3 Mahab Al Shimaal, 1200m all-weather course

The Group 3 Mahab Al Shimaal, over the same 1200m all-weather course and distance as the Dubai Golden Shaheen looks an absolute cracker with last year’s winner Reynaldothewizard again clashing with 2012 winner Krypton Factor (second in this last year).

Both went on to win the Golden Shaheen with Reynaldothewizard chased home on World Cup night last year by Balmont Mast (2nd) and Krypton Factor (3rd). Also in opposition again is United Color (5th).

Balmont Mast represents Ireland, as do Russian Soul and Jamesie.

Soft Falling Rain, winner of last year’s UAE 2000 Guineas and Godolphin Mile, is a fascinating contender for Mike De Kock.

The Mike De Kock-trained Shea Shea broke the 1000m turf track record in the Group 3 Meydan Sprint 12 months ago before again breaking the record in the Al Quoz Sprint on World Cup night.

He will surely be hard to beat in this year’s Meydan Sprint.

The Listed Al Bastakiya, over the same 1900m all-weather course and distance as the UAE Derby, looks at the mercy of Emirates Flyer, second in the UAE 2000 Guineas for Godolphin and Saeed bin Suroor.

Ireland’s He’s No Saint looks the main danger.

Last year’s Kahaya Classic winner Al Mamun Monlau, a rare Purebred Arabian mount for Frankie Dettori, faces ten rivals in the Group 1 Purebred Arabian Chalenge III. These include Versac Py, runner-up in this race last year and Raaziq, representing the all conquering Majed Al Jahouri.