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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Developer - Sheffield - £35,000 ~ £40,000 DOE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen