Meydan Challenge attracts huge European interest - GulfToday

Meydan Challenge attracts huge European interest

Meydan Challenge attracts huge European interest

Suedois heads the strong field of 11 at the Meydan Challenge, which is predominantly dominated by European horses.

As the Dubai World Cup Carnival gets under way on Thursday a pair of Listed turf affairs, the Meydan Challenge over 1400m and Dubai Racing Club Classic over 2410m, have attracted serious European interest.

The Meydan Challenge sponsored by Emirates NBD Asset Management, formerly a standard handicap, has attracted a competitive field of 11 headed by international warrior Suedois.

Trained by David O’Meara for George Turner & Clipper Logistics, the dark bay charge counts the 2017 Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes (G1) at Keeneland among his five career victories. He returns to his preferred trip of 1400m in this spot and has been eye-catching during morning track work.

O’Meara said: “He likes seven furlongs to a mile. This is the obvious start point and then we will look at those good handicaps for him. Later on, we’ll look at a race like the Group 2 Zabeel Mile.

“He’ll likely have three races between January and February. He will be ready. He’s an older horse and I wanted to keep him going through the winter. He fits well into the races in Dubai.”

Chief opposition includes Fawzi Nass-trained Listed winner Legendary Lunch, making his seasonal debut, G2 winner Championship and promising Saeed bin Suroor trainee Dubai Legacy, a last-out Newmarket winner for Godolphin.

Nass said: “This has been the plan,” Nass said. “(We wanted) to get him back on the track and we hope he will run well in a competitive contest.”

Meanwhile, the Dubai Racing Club Classic sponsored by Emirates NBD Wholesale Banking will be contested by 12 runners, including Mountain Hunter, winner of the equivalent race last year. Saeed bin Suroor and Christophe Soumillon team up again with the last-out Listed winner at Newmarket.

“We are excited to be back at Meydan for the Dubai World Cup Carnival and looking forward to the next few months,” Bin Suroor said.

“Mountain Hunter is in good form and we obviously know the conditions suit him.” His top rival will be William Haggas trainee Pablo Escobarr, who gamely defeated Loxley last out in the Kempton’s Wild Flower Stakes (Listed). Loxley was also second in Mountain Hunter’s most recent effort and victory.

Four others from Godolphin all figure well, including the Charlie Appleby-trained pair of Zaman, who is proven over this oval, and Lucius Tiberius. Bin Suroor goes three deep with the added pair of Dubai Horizon and Gifts of Gold. Not to be overlooked in the sea of blue is Mick Channon-conditioned Koeman, who enters off a victory in September at Newbury.

All the while, the young fillies clash in a maximum field of 16, where post position and racing luck will make as much difference as any level of talent.

Kicking off the six-race card, the 1400m affair is topped by UAE’s top-rated juvenile thus far, Doug Watson-trained Rio Angie, super-impressive local winner (just two weeks ago on Dec. 21) Down on Da Bayou, hard-trying Simon Crisford pupil Last Surprise and Royal Ascot-placed Godolphin colour-bearer Final Song.

Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates Airline (G1) alumnus New Trails tops the field for the 1900m handicap, but must pass front-running G1 winner Saltarin Dubai and G2 UAE Derby-placed Manguzi in order to get it done this time. Patrick Wahl-trained Swedish import Red Hot Chili seeks his 10th victory from 37 starts, while trainer Doug Watson sends out the capable duo of Grand Argentier and Tried and True.

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