Thursday’s third meeting of the 2018 Dubai World Cup Carnival is highlighted by the Group 2 Cape Verdi and a cosmopolitan field of eight have been declared for the 1600m turf feature, restricted to fillies and mares. The meet boasts an eight race card after the main support event, the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial, was split into two divisions.


First run in 2004, the Cape Verdi has been won on five occasions by horses owned by Godolphin, with four of them saddled by Saeed bin Suroor, including the previous two renewals. This year they rely on multiple Group 2 winner Promising Run (post 2).


The mount of Pat Cosgrave, the five-year-old made a winning start to her 2017 Dubai World Cup Carnival with a smooth victory in the Group 2 Al Rashidiya, over 1800m on the turf. In doing so, she added the UAE to both England and Turkey as countries in which she has won a Group contest. Subsequently out of luck in two English outings, she returns here over the same 1600m trip at which she won the 2016 Group 3 Istanbul Trophy. If victorious, she will have secured a Group victory in four consecutive seasons.


“She goes well fresh, as she showed last year in the Al Rashidiya, and has blossomed since arriving back in Dubai where the weather clearly suits her,” bin Suroor said. “She has been working well enough, but has never shone in the mornings. It looks a strong Cape Verdi, but we are hoping for a good run.”


Fellow Emirati handler, Salem bin Ghadayer, enjoyed a double on the first night of the 2018 Carnival, as well as a treble at the Meydan meeting last Saturday. He saddles Aljuljalah (post 1), the mount of Mickael Barzalona and who will be having just her third start for the yard.


“She is an extremely nice filly and we are very hopeful of a big effort,” bin Ghadayer said. “Her work has been very good and fast ground on turf should definitely suit her.”


South African Mike de Kock won this in 2008 with Sun Classique, who went on to land the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic on the Dubai World Cup card. He relies on Smiling Blue Eyes (post 3), a local debutante who was a Grade 2 winner in their homeland for Sean Tarry.


“She is a nice filly and this was always her first target,” de Kock said. “She will improve for the run but has been going nicely in the mornings.”


Three runners from England include Opal Tiara (post 5), second in this last year before winning the 1800m Group 2 Balanchine, the second of the Meydan carnival races restricted to fillies and mares. She is trained by Mick Channon, who said: “She made a very pleasing return two weeks ago and, hopefully, is spot on for Thursday. We came straight to this race last year but decided to have a prep this time and it seems to have done her the power of good. It looks a strong renewal but she should be competitive.”


Ireland’s Rehana (post 7), trained by Mick Halford, will be partnered by Pat Smullen and also ran very well at the first carnival meeting. Smullen said: “She would have needed that first run, so we were delighted and very hopeful for her chances on Thursday but it does look a hot race.”


As mentioned at the top, the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial has divided into two heats with 12 runners in each contesting the 1400m on dirt. Godolphin appear particularly well-represented in the first heat with Charlie Appleby saddling Gold Town (post 3).


Appleby said: “We are very pleased with Gold Town; his racecourse form looks good and he seems to handle the dirt well in his work.”


Bin Suroor also has both Racing Country (post 12) and well-bred Moqarrab (post 10), to be ridden by Christophe Soumillon and Jim Crowley respectively, in the second version. The longstanding Godolphin trainer sad: “Moqarrab is going well at home. Racing Country is better than he has shown on the racecourse, so far, but we are hoping the switch to dirt will suit him.”


The card is also supported by a marathon 2810m handicap (Race 2) over the turf course, which is topped by longwinded Group 3 winner Zamaam, who returns on a two-week turnaround against an evenly matched field. Later in the card is the Dubai unveiling of hard-knocking Australian sprinter Shaf in an 1000m turf dash (Race 7). Trained by the same David Hayes yard responsible for Faatinah’s local splash last week, Shaf is also owned by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, whose colours are also carried by Erwan Charpy-conditioned Zamaam.


The nightcap features quality South African middle distance turf horse Bold Rex, who wheels back on one week’s rest after finishing seventh of 16 in Salsabeel’s impressive nightcap victory last Thursday. Looking to employ similar quick-turnaround tactics as trainer and co-owner Mike de Kock’s Light the Lights last week at the same distance, the son of Bold Silvano looks to show the class that saw him place in three Group 2 events earlier in his career.

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