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Dubai World Cup preview and the all-important clashes including Auguste Rodin versus Liberty Island



Dubai World Cup preview and the all-important clashes including Auguste Rodin versus Liberty Island

Our man highlights half a dozen fascinating clashes at Meydan on World Cup Saturday as the 2024 Dubai Carnival comes to a conclusion.

SAUDI CROWN v ISOLATE – Godolphin Mile (12:05)

Isolate sprouted wings when stepped up to this trip for the first time in last year’s Godolphin Mile, poaching an early lead from stall two and kicking clear for a five and a half length victory. He’ll no doubt be happier back over the distance after struggling in the nine-furlong Saudi Cup in Riyadh last month, but now has to turn the tables on the third from that hugely valuable contest, Saudi Crown.

Brad Cox’s 2023 Pennsylvania Derby winner didn’t cut it in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November but, fresh on the back of a prep run in the States, produced a massive effort from the front in the Saudi Cup and could take all the beating if winning the battle for early supremacy here.

British and Irish interest: Swing Vote (Simon & Ed Crisford)

TOWER OF LONDON v TRAWLERMAN – Dubai Gold Cup (12:40)

Trawlerman brings the strongest form credentials to the table after a memorable victory over Kyprios under an inspired Dettori on Champions Day, but there are obvious drawbacks with him too given he only beat one home in last year’s Dubai Gold Cup and has tended to get better as the year has gone on in previous campaigns.

Tower Of London needed a run to put him straight first time out as a three-year-old but he was fit enough to land a valuable handicap on the Saudi Cup undercard late last month and arguably ran right up to his St Leger fourth that day.

Aidan O’Brien’s colt has the more potential of the two and it’s no surprise to see him edging it in the market.

British and Irish interest: Coltrane (Andrew Balding), Eldar Eldarov (Roger Varian), Enemy (Ian Williams), Giavellotto (Marco Botti), Passion And Glory (Saeed bin Suroor), Roberto Escobarr (Mick Appleby), Siskany (Charlie Appleby), Trawlerman (John & Thady Gosden), Tower Of London (Aidan O’Brien).


A three-year-old filly representing Godolphin with Frankie Dettori doing his minimum weight, against a six-year-old champion miler from Hong Kong – this has the makings of a fascinating match-up.

Charlie Appleby’s Star Of Mystery won at Listed level as a juvenile before coming unstuck when upped to Group 2s but, much like her half-siblings Althiqa and Mysterious Night, she’s evidently continued to progress with age and earnt a shot at this prize when winning a C&D Group 2 at the end of January.

She wasn’t quite at the same level when turned over at 4/9 here earlier this month but that might have teed her up for the big day and she’s clearly got a high cruising speed and a smart turn of foot. The minimum trip may end up being her specialist distance, though.

Conversely, raw speed is the big question mark against California Spangle, who famously beat Golden Sixty in the 2022 Hong Kong Mile to put a dent in that horse’s incredible sequence of victories.

California Spangle got back to winning ways when making all in the G2 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup over seven furlongs at Sha Tin recently and now drops back to six in an audacious move from connections. He’s got plenty of winning sprint form from earlier in his career but not at this sort of level and will need to go hard from the get-go if he’s to see off the stalkers.

British and Irish interest: Diligent Harry (Clive Cox), Emaraaty Ana (Jamie Osborne), Frost At Dawn (William Knight), Star Of Mystery (Charlie Appleby)

DO DEUCE v MEASURED TIME – Dubai Turf (15:10)

With all due respect to Lord North, Nashwa and the other European raiders declared, the Dubai Turf is all about Do Deuce and Measured Time for many.

The former, who edged out none other than Equinox when victorious in the Japanese Derby at three, was firmly put in his place by that goliath on a couple of occasions last year but he got his own day in the sun when back to winning ways in the Arima Kinen in December.

All of his top-level form back home is over longer distances and the Appleby-trained Measured Time may have too many guns having taken to this track so well earlier in the Carnival. He’s bred for middle-distances himself but continues to race with so much enthusiasm and it’s hard to imagine a strongly-run nine furlongs in a big-field scenario won’t play to his strengths.

The son of Frankel looks one of the most progressive horses on the card and could be bound for the top if continuing his career back in Europe later in the year.

British and Irish interest: Cairo (Aidan O’Brien), Lord North (John & Thady Gosden), Luxembourg (Aidan O’Brien), Measured Time (Charlie Appleby), Real World (Saeed bin Suroor), Nashwa (John & Thady Gosden)

LIBERTY ISLAND v AUGUSTE RODIN – Dubai Sheema Classic (16:00)

Auguste Rodin was one of the most talked about horses of 2023 and has arguably proved to be one of the most important colts of Aidan O’Brien’s exceptional training career so far.

A son of Deep Impact, out of Galileo mare Rhododendron, he was obviously bred to be a champion but didn’t always behave like one and connections were left scratching their heads after lacklustre runs in the 2000 Guineas and King George at Ascot last year.

However, he’s won seven of his 10 lifetime starts including the Derby double at Epsom and the Curragh, plus the Irish Champion Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Turf.

No doubt he’ll sharpen up for the run but big things are expected this year and this horse is simply Box Office when bringing his A-game. Let’s hope that’s the case on Saturday.

British and Irish punters may be surprised to learn Auguste Rodin isn’t favourite, that mantle currently being held by Japanese sensation Liberty Island, last seen finishing second (four lengths) in Equinox’s farewell Japan Cup romp back in November.

A winner of four Group 1s in Japan, she’s evidently a rare talent and, like her main market rival, is well proven over the 12-furlong distance. Flat fans across the world will be watching this one with bated breath.

British and Irish interest: Point Lonsdale (Aidan O’Brien), Rebel’s Romance (Charlie Appleby), Spirit Dancer (Richard Fahey), Auguste Rodin (Aidan O’Brien), Emily Upjohn (John & Thady Gosden)

USHBA TESORO v KABIRKHAN – Dubai World Cup (17:10)

The locals won’t like the suggestion but for European observers the Dubai World Cup is often a case of ‘after the Lord Mayor’s show’.

There’s no British or Irish involvement in the top 10-furlong dirt race again this year but there are four Japanese runners including two of the three at the head of the betting which isn’t a great surprise after Ushba Tesoro became the first Japanese-based horse to win the big one here since Victoire Pisa in 2011 when successful last year.

The reigning champ is the clear favourite to do the double having flown from the back of the field to gun down Simon and Ed Crisford’s Algiers and win going away 12 months ago, while he went on to finish a creditable fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita later in the year.

Everything points to the seven-year-old son of Orfevre being just as strong as he was, although the fresh new challenge this time is posed by Doug Watson’s locally-trained four-year-old Kabirkhan.

The son of the 2016 Dubai World Cup winner California Chrome has emerged from the handicap ranks earlier on at this year’s Carnival after beginning his career with a sequence of wins in Kazakhstan and Russia, and looked destined to be pitched into this battle after multiple UAE champion trainer Watson claimed he was the best 10-furlong horse he’d ever trained on winning the Al Maktoum Challenge in January.

British and Irish interest: None

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