Ballydoyle handler Aidan O’Brien sends a team of seven horses to the Dubai World Cup meeting at Meydan Racecourse this weekend.
The Irish champion flat trainer will be represented in four races on the day – the UAE Derby, Al Quoz Sprint, Dubai Turf and Sheema Classic.
In the Group 2 UAE Derby over 1,900m (approximately 9.5 furlongs), a race O’Brien won with Daddy Long Legs in 2012 and Lines of Battle in 2013, the Wexford-born trainer will be represented this year by 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Mendelssohn (Ryan Moore), Seahenge (Donnacha O’Brien) and Threeandfourpence (Séamie Heffernan).
When discussing his three strong entry in the race, O’Brien said:
“We go to the UAE Derby with three horses. They all came out of their race at Dundalk well (the Listed Patton Stakes on 9th March over a mile, which Mendelssohn won) and I’m happy with them. We will learn more about Mendelssohn in Dubai, especially how well he stays as he is a strong traveller. Threeandfourpence should improve from the run an Dundalk, as should Stonehenge who didn’t help himself by being slowly away (at Dundalk).”
Ryan Moore will ride Washington DC, a 5 year old son of Zoffany, in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint, a race Irish trainer Edward Lynam won with the Richard Hughes-ridden Sole Power in 2015.
In the Dubai Turf, formerly known as the Dubai Duty Free, over 1 mile and 1 furlong, both Lancaster Bomber (Ryan Moore) and War Decree (Séamie Heffernan) will bid to give the Co. Tipperary powerhouse its first success in the $5 million race.
Their trainer is confident about the horses’ prospects this weekend:
“Lancaster Bomber has progressed well from three to four. He ran at this meeting last year when a good fourth in the UAE Derby. Nine furlongs might be as far as wants to go but we will see how he goes at the weekend. War Decree got a late invite and we were very happy about that. He is in good form.”
In the Group 1 Sheema Classic over 1 and a half miles, Ryan Moore will take the mount on Idaho as he aims to give Aidan O’Brien his second win in the turf event following St Nicholas Abbey’s win under Joseph O’Brien in 2013. Moore won the race in 2014 when riding the Sei Ishizaka-trained Gentildonna to victory.
O’Brien admitted the Sheema Classic has been in mind for the son of Galileo, a runner up in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby and third in the Investec Derby at Epsom in 2016, for some time:
“It has been the plan to run Idaho since he ran a good fifth in the Japan Cup and he came out of that race well.”