Racing: Worldly top class in Dubai exams

THE BIRCH has stopped flying and now we must wait for the sand. The Cheltenham Festival roar has died and the racing caravan moves on to the Middle East and the Dubai World Cup on Sunday.

Like Prestbury Park, Nad Al Sheba will offer equine excellence, but that is where the comparison ends. Most stark is the reward between Flat and National Hunt. The World Cup will take just over two minutes to run under floodlights, but the prize fund sloshing around will be more than the 20 races of the Festival put together.

The Godolphin team which winters in the Emirates saddles four runners in Sunday's race. This unit is all about harvesting big pots and prestige prizes and is a strategy which will be detrimental to British racing this spring.

Godolphin have won a 2,000 Guineas and it seems the Classic no longer holds great allure for them. Their best horses will not be pointed at Newmarket this May, rather the equally prestigious and more financially rewarding forum of Louisville and the Kentucky Derby.

The great series of trials for this year's Classic generation began in the desert yesterday. Those that are considerations for Europe will not be asked to repay their pampered keep until early next month, but we now know that Worldly Manner and, most importantly, Aljabr, will not be among them.

Worldly Manner's concentration on Louisville is no surprise. He is an American horse purchased for a reputed $4m (pounds 2.4m) last year. Aljabr, though, we thought was ours. He won three times in Europe last season, culminating in a victory in the Prix de la Salamandre which made him ante- post favourite for the Guineas (the disqualified runner-up in the Longchamp race, Stravinsky, is, incidentally, in line to make his seasonal debut at the Curragh on Sunday).

Now, though, Aljabr has emigrated in the competitive sense. He is one of a batch of horses which will send the royal blue colours swerving around North American tracks this next few months. The unbeaten colt returns to the land of his breeding now aware of what it is like to have a competitor finish in front of him.

There were 10 runners in his trial over nine furlongs at Nad Al Sheba yesterday. And one of them was too good for him. "Worldly Manner beat Aljabr by a length in 1.46.59, which is a very fast and solid time," Simon Crisford, the Godolphin racing manager, reported. "They established their authority over the rest and drew clear, but Worldly Manner had the superior finish over the last two furlongs today. He was very impressive. They both were. They're both right on target for the Kentucky Derby. They're going."

It ought to be stressed that this was no gentle runaround to get yawns out of the system. The jockey arrangements on the first two might tell you that. Worldly Manner was partnered by Jerry Bailey, the American who has already won two Dubai World Cups. The steering on Aljabr was conducted by John Velazquez, the Puerto Rico-born jockey who rode Philip Mitchell's Running Stag (who has arrived in Dubai for Sunday's race) in the Breeders' Cup Classic last November.

"This was a race in everything but name," Crisford said. "None of the riders involved will tell you that was not a proper contest. That was our first major checkpoint with our young horses and Aljabr was the reference point because we know what his quality and class is."

Soon it will be time for Crisford to get his suitcase out of the attic. "We've been preaching an international theme over the last few years," he said. "At the moment we're preparing to come back to Europe for the Classics, preparing to go to Hong Kong and a campaign in Japan, and we're also preparing a team of horses to go to North America for the Triple Crown series, kicking off with the Kentucky Derby. That's a first for us. It adds a new dimension to what we're trying to achieve at this stage of the year. The goalposts have certainly moved."

Among the sports fields with which Godolphin will still be associated is the Rowley Mile at Newmarket. They have 22 of the 89 entries in the 2,000 Guineas, nine of them unbeaten. Team Emirates also trains 13 of the 83 considerations in the 1,000 Guineas.

Further ahead, Godolphin is responsible for 19 of the 143 entries in the Derby, many of them Countdown conundrum names such as Mukhalif, Mutafaweq and Rhagaas.

However, there are only four out of 142 inmates at Dubai's Al Quoz stable - surely the most valuable racing shed on earth - which matter immediately. High-Rise, the transferred Derby winner, Daylami, Almutawakel (128 points at Scrabble) and Central Park will stride out under the lights on Sunday, 3,500 miles away from Greenwich, and attempt to keep the dirhams in the treasure chest.

Last year's winner, Silver Charm, and Victory Gallop are monstrous American challengers in the way. "We've got a very solid chance," Crisford said. "Last year we came very close with Swain, but this time our team is stronger all round.

"High-Rise is doing very well and we're not concerned about the distance or the surface with him. He's got to do it on the night and there is always that doubt, but all the indications are that he is in cracking form. He's giving us the right signals.

"Daylami's a horse that has to be respected at the trip, Almutawakel could run a very nice race indeed, and, like him, Central Park has really jumped up on this surface." At least, Godolphin have had the grace to leave the Grand National to the shivering impoverished of the jumping community.

Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reception Manager

£18750 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Hotel in Chadderton is a popular ch...

Recruitment Genius: Designer

£32969 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is going through a period o...

Recruitment Genius: Data Engineer

£35000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Data Engineer is required to ...

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence