Kings and Princes Cups Festival: a tribute to royal involvement in Saudi horse racing

eshrag News:

DUBAI: The start of the carnival last week began with an early international winner in Enemy, and Algiers looking a possible Dubai World Cup contender.

And Friday’s action is set to be just as strong, although the featured G2 Al-Rashidiya is very much in the grip of Godolphin, the stable having won it for the last six years.

Godolphin will run four this time and there is no mistaking the credentials of trainer Charlie Appleby’s Ottoman Fleet and Valiant Prince, in particular, while Saeed Bin Suroor runs his G3 Bahrain Trophy first and second, Dubai Future, and Passion and Glory.

It has been a while since an international rider took the race (Luca Cumani’s Presvis in 2011) but that could change if Zagrey brings his A-game. Trained in France by Yann Barberot, the son of Zarak has won four of his nine starts including two Listed races. He will be ridden for the first time by Christophe Soumillon, who has won the race six times.

The best of the dirt action will see a renewal of the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial, which has become a bit of a Saudi Derby Trial.

They have to concede weight to the others, but the three South Americans — Loreley, Eye on The Prize, and ES-Unico — will be hard to beat, while Bhupat Seemar also has a strong hand with course winners Royal Dubai, and Morning. The latter has lots of speed and could well find himself in a pace tussle up front with Loreley, although Ricardo Colombo’s charge has more experience and can also stay further. It will be a fascinating race.

Two new races have been named after equine legends Thunder Snow, and Ipi Tombe.

The Thunder Snow Challenge, fittingly over the Dubai World Cup course and distance of 2,000 meters, will have two South Korean runners, King of the Match, and Haengbok Wangja. They are in tough company, however, against First Constitution, who went into plenty of notebooks after his eye-catching run when third in the Listed Entisar Stakes. The local challenge is further bolstered by Group 2 winner Military Law, who should be much fitter this time, and 2021 G1 Maktoum Challenge R3 winner Salute the Soldier.

The Ipi Tombe is a prep for the G2 Balanchine and Cape Verdi Stakes and there is no getting away from Appleby’s Wild Beauty here. A Grade 1 winner in Canada in 2021, she was deemed good enough to run in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket in May and this is a big drop in grade. She should win and win well, but do not ignore Italian trainer Marco Botti’s Rising Star, whose connections have proved several times they are adept at getting horses ready for these overseas assignments.

There are two super handicaps on the card and the returning Quality Boone could be hard to beat in the opening 1,600-meter Azizi Mina Handicap, although Royal Mews has race fitness on his side and looks a leading player.

The final race, the Azizi Riviera on turf, will be incredibly competitive but the sort of race which British trainer Jamie Osborne loves to win. He sends out Ouzo, last seen finishing sixth in the Cambridgeshire Handicap at Newmarket, who may just run a big race.

However, Godolphin’s four-strong team will be hard to beat, with Saeed Bin Suroor’s Electrical Storm dropping in trip after winning here over 2,000 meters last month.

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