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2011 Al Maktoum Challenge Round One Runs Thursday


The 2011 Dubai Racing Carnival kicks off in a very big way this Thursday at the immaculate Meydan Racecourse. There are eight quality fixtures lined up for the day and it includes the usual assortment of handicaps filled with globe-trotting types from all four corners of the globe.

The features on the day are expected to be the UAE 1000 Guineas Trial and, more so, the first round of the Al Maktoum Challenge. Last season, the first kick at the Al Maktoum can produced the eventual winner of the Dubai World Cup- the talented Gloria De Campeao (Impression). The Brazilian horse got the narrow victory over South African Lizard’s Desire (Lizard Island), who avenged the loss in the last 50 yards of the Singapore Airlines International Cup at Kranji. It was Gloria’s last race as he was injured shortly afterwards.

Examining the opening round of the Al Maktoum Challenge, it’s clear that Godolphin is out in full force for this one as is Mike De Kock’s team, hardly a surprise.

Saboteur (Shamardal) enters the race fresh off a score in a tricky 14-strong handicap over the Tapeta surface at Meydan. Sent off at 20/1 on the day, he pounced in the final few yards and was able to secure the victory. Credit goes more to Rosales than the equine itself, as he is still a ways off career-best figures. It was the first score since a maiden break back at Nottingham in the fall of 2009. He should go off at a slightly shorter price here, but takes such a big step up in class that he may find himself out of it if things don’t go his way early on.

American-bred Bronze Cannon (Lemon Drop Kid) didn’t impress on his first spin around the Meydan surface but he could very well line up for this one a bit more confident having got the prep race under his belt. He last scored in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2009. Campaigned everywhere from Sandown, to Cologne to Moscow, the Ramzan Kadyrov-owned brown horse is hitting at near career-best figures since his return after a one year lay-off in September of 2010. He will go off at a price.

Lightly-raced four year-old Mendip (Harlan’s Holiday) is an apple in the eye of Saeed Bin Suroor and he scored at Meydan on both the conditions and listed circuit during last year’s carnival. He’s been laid off since a third place finish in the UAE Derby but will likely be the one to beat against this field. It would mean so much to the Godolphin team to capture the Dubai World Cup this year and one gets the feeling that this is one of their better contenders.  

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