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Dubai World Cup Winner African Story Makes Seasonal Debut in Al Maktoum Challenge R2

Photo: Dubai Racing Club / Andrew Watkins

Surfer, Prince Bishop, Cooptado and Frankyfourfingers Oppose

Thursday’s fifth IPIC-empowered meeting of the 2015 Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan Racecourse is highlighted by the middle rounds of the Al Maktoum Challenge, as well as the UAE 1000 Guineas.

The 1900m Group 2 version of Al Maktoum Challenge R2 looks a fascinating renewal and has attracted a field of 11, including last year’s first, second and third. The Saeed bin Suroor-trained Prince Bishop and subsequent Dubai World Cup winner, African Story, were the first two home last year and are joined in the field by stable companion, Emirates Flyer.

Stable jockey, James Doyle, rides African Story, who like Prince Bishop, the mount of William Buick, is making his dirt debut. Adrie De Vries picks up the spare ride on Emirates Flyer, fifth in the first round of the Al Maktoum Challenge on the first night of the Dubai World Cup Carnival.

“Emirates Flyer has improved from that first run,” said Bin Suroor. “He handled the surface and with the benefit of that run should go well.

“Prince Bishop won this well last year when African Story also ran very well. Both need to prove themselves on the dirt but are in good form at home and working well.

“They will both improve for the run but are ready for a race. This race has been the plan for both their comebacks all along.”

Bin Suroor is seeking an 11th victory in the race.

Zambucca was third in this last year for Satish Seemar. He will be ridden by Wayne Smith with stable jockey, Richard Mullen, not surprisingly, riding stable companion, Surfer, winner of the 1600m opening round when Zambucca was sixth.

“It was a very good performance in the first round,” said Mullen. “He really took to the new surface and has been in good form since. The extra trip is not an issue. This does look a stronger race but he should run well.”

Frankyfourfingers chased Surfer home four weeks ago under Mickael Barzalona, briefly threatening to give trainer Salem bin Ghadayer a dream start to his new career.

He should run well again and Cooptado, trained by Doug Watson and to be ridden by Pat Dobbs, is another to consider after making a winning start to the season in a 2000m Listed race on the Meydan dirt.

“He is fresh and well,” said Watson. “This is a big step up in class but he merits it and we will find out how good he is.”

The Purebred Arabian equivalent carries Group 1 status and is over 2200m. Salem Al Ketbi saddled six winners last weekend and has three of the nine runners with stable jockey, Tadhg O’Shea, choosing Callateral.

Raaziq was very disappointing in the 1600m first round but has won over this 2200m trip and connections must feel the surface was not the reason for that poor showing.

Silvestre De Sousa rides for Majed Al Jahouri.

The UAE 1000 Guineas, a 1600m Listed contest, also on the dirt surface, has attracted a select field of six. Bin Suroor has already saddled the winner eight times and has both Local Time and Good Place in the field this year.

They were first and fourth in the 1400m UAE 1000 Guineas Trial three weeks ago. Doyle chooses to retain his association with Local Time and De Vries rides the stable companion.

Fellow Godolphin handler, Charlie Appleby, introduces the unbeaten Yodelling to the UAE. Winner of both her starts in England, on the Polytrack at Kempton, she has won over 1600m and looks an exciting prospect.

“She is a nice filly and in great shape,” said Appleby. “We deliberately waited for this race as the 1400m of the trial would have been too short for her. This 1600m will be her minimum trip and she is going to improve with distance.

“Whatever she achieves here will be a bonus heading towards the UAE Oaks.”

Second in the trial was Ad Idem, one of two in the race for Mike De Kock and the choice of Paul Hanagan, retained jockey for owner HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

His decision leaves the owner’s second jockey, Dane O’Neill, to partner stable companion Shahrasal.