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Nations Pride Headlines Friday Dubai World Cup Carnival Card

Dubai Nations Star
Nations Pride runs on Friday at Meydan Racecourse (Photo credit: Dubai Racing Club).

Nations Pride is the star turn on the seventh night of Dubai World Cup Carnival action at Meydan Racecourse, which features runners from 10 different countries.

Nations Pride (pictured) defends his perfect Meydan record in the G3 Dubai Millennium Stakes, race six, over 2000metres on turf. The winner of the inaugural Jumeirah Derby here in 2022, he went on to Grade I success in the Saratoga Derby in New York and followed that with success in the G3 Jockey Club Derby at Aqueduct.

“Nations Pride has been pleasing us at home and coming back to a mile and a quarter should suit, said trainer Charlie Appleby, who has won this race six times, including with Royal Fleet 12 months ago. “There will be some improvement to come for whatever he does on his seasonal return, as we hope that he has another international campaign ahead of him this year. Depending on how he goes here, we will consider potentially looking at the Jebel Hatta or the Dubai Turf.”

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Appleby also runs Ottoman Fleet, third in the G2 Singspiel Stakes last time out. “Returning to this distance looks as though it might benefit Ottoman Fleet based on his two runs so far this year,” he continued. “He goes into the race a fit horse with solid form around him, so he should be a major player.”

Appleby also has a strong hand in the G3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy, over 2810metres on turf, race five. The $200,000 contest, a prep race for the G2 Dubai Gold Cup at the Dubai World Cup meeting, has been won nine times by Godolphin, with four wins for Appleby and four for Saeed Bin Suroor. They run two each on Friday; Bin Suroor sending out Global Heat and Brilliant Light, while Appleby fields Siskany and Kemari.

“Siskany looks great and will be a player if he brings his best form to the table,” said the trainer. “He has won over the course and trip, so he looks the one they have to beat.

“Kemari will also be competitive if he can rekindle some of his old form. He ran some solid races last year but can be a little inconsistent these days.”

Bin Suroor said: “Global Heat won over this trip in the Al Khail Trophy and came out of his recent handicap run in good order. He stays well and I’m hoping for another good effort. Brilliant Light worked well last week and has some good form over this distance. He is ready to go again and will appreciate the step up in trip.”

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Away She Goes takes on Godolphin Group

Taking on the Godolphin quartet is the Ismail Mohammed-trained Away He Goes, who was fifth in this race in 2021 before running third in the Gold Cup. He bids to build on a good second to Global Heat here a month ago. The sole mare in the race is Bhupat Seemar’s Wickywickywheels, seventh over a 2410metres last time out. She will be ridden by former UAE Champion Jockey Richie Mullen, deputizing for the suspended Tadhg O’Shea.

“It’s nice to ride one for [owner] Jimmy Long,” said Mullen. “She won the Emirates Championship first up here at Abu Dhabi and was an improving sort all through the summer for Jim Goldie. Her second run here in a Listed race, behind Global Heat, was pretty good and she’s two kilos better off for being beaten two and a half lengths, so that would bring her into the mix. Her last start was a shade disappointing, maybe backing up quick didn’t suit her, but I think she has a live chance and the trip will certainly suit.”

The evening’s Classic is the Group 3 UAE Oaks, race three, over 1900metres on dirt. It was won in 2020 by Salem Bin Ghadayer’s Down On Da Bayou and the trainer has a leading chance this time with Mimi Kakushi, winner of her last two starts, including the Listed UAE 1000 Guineas.

“She will have the distance advantage so I believe if she runs the same race as the 1000 Guineas then she should be the winner,” said a confident Bin Ghadayer. “It’s almost the same field except for the American filly. We have a nice draw and we are hoping for a nice race from her.”

Doug O’Neill Saddles Ami Please

The American raider is Ami Please, the first filly to race in Dubai for American handler Doug O’Neill, while the other international runner is Solaire, who carries the hopes of France.

“It’s the first time on the dirt for Solaire,” said Marine Henry, wife and assistant to trainer Nicolas Caullery. She feels really well and looks really good, but we know it’s a big change as it’s a different way of racing, on the dirt. We’ve got a good jockey in Adrie De Vries.”

Local hopes include Priyanka, who takes her chance for Seemar and Mullen, both of whom are yet to win this race.

“Obviously it’s her first time on dirt, but she has galloped on it and it seemed to suit her,” said Mullen. “I’m pretty sure she’s improved from her first start and she has a great draw, in one. Obviously there’s the filly of Doug O’Neill’s [Ami Please] and the two of Doug Watson’s who look the main dangers but hopefully I’ll be able to get a good position and she can give a good account of herself.”

Caullery and Henry run stable star Batwan in the Jebel Ali Free Zone Handicap, race two, over 1200metres on turf. A dual winner over this course and distance last season, the grey was eighth on his return to Meydan three weeks’ ago, when the going was soft.

“Hopefully it’s not going to rain, “said Henry. “[Mickael] Barzalona is on his back again so we hope to do something interesting. He took a little time to recover from his last race as he absolutely hated the ground, but I’m hoping he’s back to where he was last year.”

Batwan’s opponents include Watson’s Boomshalaa, who is three from four over this distance, and Appleby’s Silent Speech, a winner of the Dubai Trophy over this track and trip a year ago.

The closing Jebel Ali Port Handicap is a competitive 1400metre dirt event in which Mullen rides Western Symphony, a winner over course and distance last time out.

“He’s an improving sort who has been in great form all year,” said Mullen. “Seven furlongs [1400metres] is ideal for him, but we haven’t got the luck with the draw. He’s in 13 which makes life a little bit harder, but he proved last time that he can come from off the pace and he takes the kickback well.”

Western Symphony’s 14 rivals include stablemate Royal Mews, likely favourite for the race after his battling mile victory last time out, and King Gold, third on his first dirt start for the Caullery team.

“King Gold is in a high-level race, but he did really well last time in bad weather and on a track which didn’t suit him,” said Henry. “He wasn’t 100 per cent last time and he’s still not 100 per cent and doesn’t have a good draw [15] but Adrie [De Vries, jockey] knows his job and he knows the horse now.

“Of our three runners on Friday, I have a little preference for King Gold as he’s done so well since coming to Dubai.”

Bin Ghadayer runs top weight Ever Given, a good fourth on local debut in the Group 3 Firebreak Stakes last time out.

“Ever Given has natural speed and a nice draw,” said the trainer. “He ran well in the rain and we’d like to keep him on the dirt for the moment, just to see what we have. He’s a nice horse and he should go very close.”

The card also stages the inaugural Lord Glitters Handicap, named after the popular three-time course winner. It has attracted a cosmopolitan field of 13, with Aegean Finale running for Turkey, Fastnet Crown for Ireland, King David for Norway and Ouzo for the UK.