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Previous winners Cavalryman and Ahzeemah Clash in Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy

Photo: Dubai Racing Club//Andrew Watkins

Godolphin Seeks to Bid Domination of Turf Contest

The Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy is the highlight of Meydan Racecourse’s ninth and penultimate meeting of the 2015 Dubai World Cup Carnival with just Super Saturday to follow next week and then the US$30m Dubai World Cup fixture itself on Saturday 28th March.

Eleven have been declared for the 2810m turf feature, including the last two winners, Ahzeemah, who won in 2013 and Cavalryman who landed the spoils 12 months ago.

Both are trained by Saeed bin Suroor and are joined by stable companion Excellent Result. The race was first contested in 2010 and has only ever been won by Godolphin trainers,

Seeking a fourth win in the race, Bin Suroor clearly has a very strong hand this year and with stable jockey, James Doyle, in action for Godolphin in Australia, William Buick takes the mount on Cavalryman.

Dane O’Neill rides Excellent Result with Harry Bentley, fresh from nine winners in Qatar this week, aboard Ahzeemah.

“All three are fit and well,” said Bin Suroor. “They have all won over course and distance and both Cavalryman, last year, and Ahzeemah have won this race before.

“Ahzeemah and Excellent Result have the benefit of a run already this season and have been working well since those runs.

“Cavalryman had a busy campaign last year, winning well at Newmarket and Glorious Goodwood. It was always the plan to wait for this race for his return to action but he runs well fresh as he showed when winning this on his seasonal debut 12 months ago.
“All three should run well and it is a race we are really looking forward to.”

Mike De Kock is two handed with Star Empire under Christophe Soumillon joined in the field by Almoonqith with Paul Hanagan riding for his main employer, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Soumillon’s mount is actually running in the race for a fourth time, having chased home Cavalryman last year and finishing third in both 2011 and 2013 after missing the whole of 2012.

Almoonqith is stepping up markedly in trip having won over 1600m three starts ago and running well over 2000m the last two times.

“We think Almoonqith will stay the trip, said De Kock. “There is every encouragement he will in his pedigree and his style of racing. We are looking forward to trying him over this kind of distance and certainly hope he can make the first four.
“Star Empire has not been in the same kind of form as his previous Dubai World Cup Carnival campaigns and his age is probably starting to catch up with him.”

Trained by Doug Watson, Meandre is a fascinating contender having proven his stamina for this kind of trip when third in a handicap over this course and distance at the beginning of the month.

A Group One winner in Europe, he obviously has a touch of class and could be the one to benefit should the Godolphin trio fail to fire.

The remainder of the card consists of six ultra competitive handicaps and a lot of attention is sure to be focused on local debutant, Footbridge, having his first start for Charlie Appleby.

Previously trained in America by Eoin Harty, he was third in last year’s Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes before finishing tenth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic behind Bayern.

He has his first start for Appleby in a 2000m handicap with Buick in the saddle.

Uruguayan raider, High Blade, is another interesting newcomer to the UAE and faces 12 rivals in a 1400m dirt handicap. Winner of his first five career starts, his only defeat was suffered on his final start in Uruguay, when fourth in Group One company.