Reigning champion Muarrab (GB) is not the only previous winner among the field for the 1200m Group 1 US$2m Dubai Golden Shaheen sponsored by Gulf News, although when Reynaldothewizard (USA) landed the prize in 2013 it was on the old all-weather surface, not today’s dirt.
Trained by Musabbeh Al Mheiri 12 months ago, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Muarrab, the mount of Jim Crowley, will be having his first start since joining Ali Rashid Al Rayhi.
Yet to win in four starts this season, he was a close second on each of the first three before disappointing on Super Saturday in the Group 3 Mahab Al Shimaal, a race he had won last year en route to his Golden Shaheen victory.
“I imagine we will be positive on him after different tactics did not seem to suit on Super Saturday,” said Crowley. “Apart from that start, he had been running well all season and should at least be competitive.”
Richard Mullen rides Reynaldothewizard for Satish Seemar and who beat Muarrab in the Listed Dubawi Stakes, over this 1200m course and distance, when last seen in January.
Fourth to Muarrab in this last year, he has been kept fresh since his January victory and he also won the Mahab Al Shimaal in the year of his Golden Shaheen victory.
“He may be eleven now but has not had much racing and acts like a lot younger horse,” said Mullen. “He goes well fresh and conditions suit him so we have to hope for another big run.”
Victorious on Super Saturday in this year’s Mahab Al Shimaal was Morawij (GB), previously winner of the Jebel Ali Sprint and trained by Dhruba Selvaratnam for HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Third, from a bad draw, in this 12 months ago, he is well berthed this time in two, to the delight of his jockey, Chris Hayes.
“He did very well to get third last year when drawn widest of all so a low draw is a massive boost,” said Hayes. “As he showed at Jebel Ali and on Super Saturday, when he gets to the front he gives his all and is hard to pass. He must have a decent chance in an open race.”
He was chased home on Super Saturday by Cool Cowboy (USA), drawn five on Saturday when to be saddled by Doug Watson and the mount of Pat Dobbs.
“The draw is OK and he seems in great form at home,” said Watson. “We expect a big run from him but it is obviously a strong race.”
Heading the international challenge would appear to be Mind Your Biscuits (USA), not only a first UAE runner for trainer Chad Summers but, potentially, a very first winner for the rookie handler.
However, the mount of Joel Rosario received the widest gate of all, 14, when the draw was revealed on Wednesday.
“The draw could have been better but he is a closer, not a horse who races on the pace,” said Summers. “Therefore it may not be the end of the world and I could not be happier with his condition and preparation.”