Group Two City Of Gold 2410M USD $250,000
The Owen Burrows-trained Hukum won last year with Jim Crowley in the saddle for Shadwell Stable in a field of 15.
In the last thirteen runnings of the race, Godolphin has won nine times between horses trained by Saeed bin Suroor and Charlie Appleby. This year, Appleby trains Rebel’s Romance, Global Storm, and Kemari, while Bin Suroor saddles Global Heat and White Wolf.
Rebel’s Romances should enter the race as the favorite, with the 5YO gelded son of Dubawi carrying the highest rating and trying for his sixth straight win. In his 12-race career, he has won four times at Meydan, including the Group Two UAE Derby in 2021. This race should be his to lose, and Appleby should have him back on track fresh and rock-hard fit after a 115-day layoff.If this wasn't enough upside for the Godolphin prospect, the fact that his last four starts and victories have all come with Group Company should provide additional depth against this field.
The next best from this field could be the grey from Sha Tin, Senor Toba, prepared by Hong Kong’s Champion Trainer, Caspar Fownes. The 5YO gelded son of Toronado has taken three Group Threes in his career across two continents and will be looking to add a fourth on a different continent.
Burj Nahaar 1600M Group Three USD $250,000
Another large field here with 17 nominees, and another race that Saeed bin Suroor holds the record in (6), although Doug Watson has taken the race four of the past six times.
The winner from last year was Midnight Sands, trained by Doug Watson for the Cool Silk Partnership. This year, Watson is preparing three titles: Everfast, Fanaar, and the highly anticipated Canvassed. The 8-year-old gelded son of Shamardal last raced 20 days ago for a third-place finish in the Group Three Jebel Ali Mile, won by stablemate Fanaar. However, he won on Super Saturday night two years ago in the Group Three Mahab Al Shimaal by a tight margin; he still has some potential to give and will be at the front of the pack when it counts.
Secret Ambition, prepared by Bhupat Seemar, is a very interesting prospect and has a great chance here after finishing second to Fanaar last start in the Jebel Ali Mile. The race has great form lines here again.
He's only ten years old, but he's already won three Group One races: the Group Three Jebel Ali Mile (2019), the Group Three Firebreak Stakes (2021), and the Group Two Godolphin Mile in the same year. With the current jockey championship leader, Tadhg O'Shea, in the saddle, this Exceed and Excel x Inner Secret combination look promising.
Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint 1200M Group Three USD $250,000
Man of Promise dominated this race last year, winning by three lengths for trainer Charlie Appleby.The Godolphin trainer does not have a runner in this year’s edition, but Saeed bin Suroor will be flying the royal blue flag with the 6YO gelding City Walk.
Carrying the highest rating into this race is top hope Miqyaas, trained by Rashed Bouresly, who will be looking to make it four wins on the bounce. The last start for the 8-year-old gelded son of Oasis Dream was three weeks ago, which saw him win by a short head in the Group Two Blue Point Sprint. Oscar Chavez was in the saddle then and has been retained.
Throw into the mix the 3YO Harry Angel colt, Al Dasim, trained by George Boughey for Sheikh Abdullah Almalek Alsabah. He is undefeated in Meydan, having gone two from two, and will be looking to take his fifth consecutive win here.
Al Bastakiya 1900M USD $170,000 listed
Bendoog got out to a four-length lead in the last 200m last year but was run down by Quality Boone taking the spoils. Despite having a lower quality field than the other two, it stands out as a potential hope to follow.
Go Soldier Go, trained by Fawzi Nass, has one win and three placings from four starts. The victory came in the colt’s last start, when he won by close to six lengths, beating home Lahresh, who faces him in this race.
Slava Ukraini of Denmark is another intriguing contender. He has raced twice in the UAE, finishing fifth and fourth, but has won at home in September last year. trained by Niels Petersen, the Moohaajim x Rayna colt should be thereabouts.
Group One Al Maktoum Challenge R3: 2000M USD $450,000
A great field of candidates was nominated, but there seem to be four top hopes for mine.
Two of them are Antonio Cintra's Ajuste Fiscal and Athletico El Culano duo.Ajuste Fiscal has eleven starts in Meydan, winning one of those, but the 6YO gelded son of Ioya Bigtime has four listed class victories in his native South America. Stablemate Athletico El Culano only has four UAE starts and is yet to record a local win; however, back home, he has a Group Two and Group One victory in Uruguay on the dirt, which bodes well for his form.
The top hope and expected favourite in the race should be the Fawzi Nass-trained Salute the Soldier, who won this race in 2021. The 8-year-old gelded son of Sepoy has raced 27 times for nine wins and eight further placings. His victories have included the Gr.3 Burj Nahaar (2020) by six lengths and the Group Two Al Maktoum Challenge R2. Adrie de Vries is in the saddle again, having partnered with him in every UAE start.
The last of the four top hopes is the big boy himself, Bendoog, trained by Bhupat Seemar for owner Mohammed Khaleel Ahmed. He has run in three Gr.3 and two Listed class races through his eight-start career, and the Gun Runner colt has not been too far from the finish in those runs.
USD $350,000 Group One Jebel Hatta 1800M
Last year's race was won by the Musabeh Al Mheiri-trained Alfareeq for Shadwell Stable, and this year’s field is quite possibly the deepest on the card.
Valiant Prince carries the top rating here (118) and is trained by Charlie Appleby. He has won his past three starts, which have included tight wins in the Gr.2 Al Rashidiya and the Gr.2 Singspiel Stakes.
The other Appleby-trained hope is Master of the Seas, a 5-year-old gelded son of Dubawi who has won his last two in close group company victories, taking out the Gr.3 Earl of Sefton Stakes in Newmarket last April before winning the Group Two Zabeel Mile in January in his only local run this season.
El Drama, trained by Roger Varian, is the 5YO Lope de Vega x Victorie Finale entire who took out a listed class race in the UK (2021) and has been second in a group class in the past two years, having to face off against quality winners in Baeed and Mutasaabeq.
First Winter has yet to race in group company, but trainer Ahmad bin Harmash unleased his 6YO last start, seeing him win by 3.75 lengths backing up from a win by a head twelve days prior.
I Am Superman, trained by Michael O'Callaghan, has not won since March 2021, when he took out Gr.2 at Rosehill, Australia. He has two Group Two victories from 33 starts (6-4-2), but his Footstepsinthesand x Fastnet Lady pedigree deserves to be respected even as a 7YO.
Mahab Al Shimaal 1200M USD $250,000 Gr.3
The final race of the night could turn into a gritty battle in the final stages between Tuz, Mouheeb, and Color Up.
Tuz is the one to beat after stepping out in the Gr.3 Al Shindagha Sprint last start and putting three lengths on the pack under Jose da Silva. Tadhg O'Shea takes the ride this time. The Bhupat Seemar-trained gelding has also won the Listed Dubai Creek Mile (2021) as well as a Group One in Russia in 2019.
Mouheeb is the jewel in the Michael Costa stable's crown, and the 5YO Flatter x Shananies Song entire has previously beaten Tuz in the Listed Al Garhoud Sprint. If that race is any indication, this will be a nail-biter, especially in the final stages. He also took out the Gr.3 UAE 2000 Guineas in 2021.
Color Up is proving to be a real sprinter and, from six starts, has three wins and two placings, showing his love of the track and distance. His last start was a week ago and having won impressively by close to six lengths, the Doug Watson-trained gelding could throw down a real challenge and make some real trouble for Tuz and Mouheeb in this closing race.
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