DUBAI: As the United Arab Emirates’ racing carnival draws to a close, Friday’s meeting will be the last before Super Saturday – the dress rehearsal for the Dubai World Cup – on March 5.
Horses from the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, France, United States, Greece, Turkey, Ireland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden will participate in the six-race card.
The star race will be the Group 3 Dubai Millennium Stakes in which Godolphin has succeeded in all but one race since his inauguration in 2014. The stable will field defending champion Star Safari, but the highest rated horse in the race is Burgas, from Turkey.
Winner of eight of his 12 starts at home, Burgas will use the race as a stepping stone to the $6million Longines Dubai Sheema Classic.
A large Turkish contingent is in the UAE, with six horses, and has so far been rewarded with Ugurtay’s fourth-place finish in the Listed Curlin Stakes. Burgas, currently at the top of his game after a four-month break, is widely regarded as the top horse, but Ugurtay was always expected to be a threat.
Bulut Karahan, racing director for owner and breeder Fedai Kahraman, said: “Burgas is one of the best horses in Turkey. He’s had four months off, though, so we’re using that run to prepare him for March 26.
European success was seen as a possibility in race two, the Lincoln Nautilus Handicap, when Batwan aims to extend French coach Nicolas Caullery’s remarkable Dubai record. Based in Chantilly, the manager has had three wins in Dubai out of 15 runners since 2017.
Batwan won in Dubai last month but must repeat the feat to earn an invitation to the G1 Al Quoz Sprint on World Cup night, the dream of owner Oliver Lodge.
Offering a truly international flavor is El Guanche, trained in Sweden by South American native Ricardo Ramallo. He rides the horse in the morning without stirrups – flirting with the rules without breaking them.
El Guanche, a six-year-old chestnut with a big white face, was born in France, started his racing career in Spain, then raced in France, the UK and Sweden before his current stint in Dubai, playing the transnational spirit of carnival.