The Meydan Group has released the list of horses, five of them from Ireland, accepted for the 2018 Dubai World Cup Carnival, which gets underway at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday January 11, 2018.
The list features 132 accepted horses with the intention to ship from 15 countries, including 14 Group 1 winners from many points of the globe. Several international stars are set to travel to Dubai this winter to compete for a share of the US$10,870,000 prize money across 10 race cards, 61 Thoroughbred races and 4 Group Purebred Arabian races held prior to the Dubai World Cup card on 31st March 2018.
Regular Irish trainers in Dubai, Michael Halford and David Marnane, both have 2 horses each accepted for the Carnival, while Darren Bunyan has one. Halford has Rehana, a four year-old filly, and Riyazan, a three year-old colt. Both lightly raced stakes winners carry the colour of the Aga Khan.
Marnane’s duo are Freescape and Havana Go; the former a 3 year-old gelding, the latter a three year-old colt. Darren Bunyan’s representative is the four year-old colt Hit The Bid.
One of the world’s top stayers, the Alain de Royer Dupre-trained Vazirabad returns for the Carnival and will attempt to pull off an unprecedented hat trick in the Dubai Gold Cup (Group 1) after a likely return again in the 2,810m Nad Al Sheba Trophy (Group 3) on March 1. The 6-year-old 13-time winner from 19 starts exits a season in which he won four from six starts and added a third top-level success.
The Brett Crawford-trained champion Whisky Baron, is named, having won South Africa’s most prestigious event, The Sun Met (Group 1), to culminate a five-race winning streak last January. Additional influence from South Africa on the Carnival will come Mike de Kock’s yard. His top charges include 2017 South African Derby (Group 1) winner Al Sahem, Group I-winning warrior Sanshaawes and Group I-winning 2017 Zabeel Mile (Group 2) runner-up Noah From Goa.
Talismanic arguably tops the lot this year on the strength of his victory in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (Grade 1) in November and good second to now-retired global superstar Highland Reel in the Hong Kong Cup (Group 1) in December. His Godolphin-owned and Andre Fabre-trained stablemate Cloth of Stars joins him on the roster after a season in which he won the Prix Ganay (Group 1) over 2017 Carnival winner Zarak and finished a game second in Europe’s premier fixture, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Group 1). Fabre also has highly regarded Group 3-winning turf miler Trais Fluors in the mix. The four-time winner from six starts was second to 2017 UAE Derby (Group 2) winner Thunder Snow two efforts back in the Prix Jean Prat (Group 1).
The Newmarket-based yard of David Simcock holds a strong hand, including Grade 1-winning ageless wonder Sheikhzayedroad, Coral-Eclipse (Group 1) third-place finisher Desert Encounter, two-time Celebration Mile (Group 2) winner Lightning Spear, multiple Group 1-placed Arod and the impeccably bred Listed winner Mr. Owen.
Australia will likely make its presence known, spearheaded by conditioner David Hayes early in the Carnival with the likes of multiple Group 2-winning sprinter Faatinah and Bjorn Baker’s highly rated Group I-winning speedster Music Magnate targeting the latter half, including a possible Super Saturday run. Said sprinters further highlight a global amalgam of talented newcomers and familiar faces, including classy Roger Varian trainees Connecticut and Barsanti, Singapore Gold Cup (Group 1) winner Gilt Complex, Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 (Group 2) winner Furia Cruzada and 2017 Godolphin Mile (Group 2) runner-up Ross.