$960,000 up for grabs as DWC Carnival gets under way today - GulfToday

$960,000 up for grabs as DWC Carnival gets under way today

$960,000 up for grabs as DWC  Carnival gets under way today

Drafted and Gladiator King are the top contenders for Dubawi Stakes.

The 2020 Dubai World Cup (DWC) Carnival commences on Thursday with a flourish of top-class horses from around the globe.

A total of $960,000 in prize money will be up for grabs and DWC implications will be aplenty, including the featured the Dubawi Stakes (G3) for Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) aspirants.

A pair of Listed turf affairs, the Meydan Challenge over 1400m and Dubai Racing Club Classic over 2410m, have attracted serious European interest, while the 3-year-old fillies will audition for the classics in the 1400m UAE 1000 Guineas Trial.  A pair of salty handicaps complete the sextet—over 1900m on dirt and down the turf chute going 1000m—creating what will surely be an enthralling card. The evening is sponsored by pillar partner Emirates NBD and kicks off at 6:30 pm.

Group 3 $200,000 Dubawi Stakes (1200m): This looks a strong renewal of the Dubawi Stakes, a race first contested in 2010 and in which Satish Seemar has a fantastic record, having saddled half of the previous nine winners (including the Reynaldothewizard, who landed four).

The master of Zabeel Stables also took the prize last year with Raven’s Corner and has two chances this time: homegrown talent Lavaspin and new recruit Gladiator King. Both must take on the king of the UAE sprinters from last season, Drafted, as he makes his belated seasonal bow.

A 6-year-old gelded son of Hard Spun, Lavaspin has only ever raced in the UAE with just eight career starts on his resume, half of them victorious.

The three most recent victories were in handicaps over this 1200m dirt course and distance. Only once has he tipped his hoof into Stakes company when a bitterly disappointing last of ten in Super Saturday’s Mahab Al Shimaal (G3) astern Drafted. Gladiator King, the mount of Mickael Barzalona, is having his first start in the colours of Sheikh Rashid Bin Humaid Al Nuaimi. He was previously in the care of USA conditioner Jaime Mejia, for whom he won five times, highlighted by the Hutcheson Stakes (G3) over 1400m last March.

“We are really looking forward to running them both,” Seemar said.

“Gladiator King arrived at a good time in the summer, has acclimatised well and settled into our routine. Lavaspin is a horse we have always really liked, but has not always been straightforward to train. We think he is worthy of his place in this company and hope he can prove it on Thursday.”

Also doubly represented is the UAE season’s leading handler thus far, Doug Watson, who saddles both Drafted and Waady.

The latter is one of nine runners owned by Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum in action Thursday evening. Red Stables rider Pat Dobbs will be aboard Drafted, second in this last year, a late-running type who has won half of his ten starts for current connections, including the aforementioned 2019 Mahaab Al Shimaal and Al Shindagha Sprint (G3).

Waady, to be ridden by Dane O’Neill, was an explosive sprinter in Britain for John Gosden, but not an instant hit in the UAE. However, he seems to be back on song as he displayed with a comfortable handicap victory over this 1200m before chasing home the same owner’s Ibn Malik in the Garhoud Sprint (Listed) last month.

“Drafted is amazing in that he really powers home in these sprint races on the Meydan dirt, which so few horses do,” Watson said.

“We decided to wait for this to get him started. Waady is very fast and goes there in good form. I hope both can run big races.”

Jim Crowley, first rider for Sheikh Hamdan, has opted to partner Ibn Malik in the Shadwell blue and white, seeking to give the son of Speightstown back-to-back wins after his dominant Garhoud glory on Dec. 6.

France will be represented by Tour to Paris, a fascinating 11-time winner from 15 starts from the yard of Pia Brandt who began his career a perfect 8-for-8 in Hungary.

A multi-surface specialist, he will be tested against quality dirt sprinters in his Dubai debut for a conditioner who won last season’s UAE 1000 Guineas (Listed) with Silva.

Mahab Al Shimaal runner-up Nine Below Zero, UAE 2000 Guineas Trial victor Walking Thunder and G2-placed Neverland Rock complete the line-up.

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