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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Toure could leave Manchester City in the summer, claims his agent
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
News
media
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior C++ Developer

£350 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Senior C++ Developer – L...

Part Time SEN Teacher

£120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you looking for a Part Time S...

SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

Client Services Associate (MS Office, Analysis, Graduate)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Client Services Associate (Microsoft Office, Ana...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz