The second meeting of Meydan’s Dubai World Carnival in 2022 is impressive – with two Group 2s, one Group 3 and $810,000 in prize money over seven races – but the main event on January 21 has arguably been saved for last in an $80,000 nominal circumstances affair. over 1 1/4 miles. That race features the past two winners of the UAE Derby sponsored by Emirates NBD (G2), Godolphin’s Romance of the Rebel and Russian Racing Syndicates more than perfect .
Charlie Appleby-trained Rebel’s Romance, a dominant 5 1/2-length winner of his March heat (when the latter in action), was sent to New York with stablemates in May althiqa , Summer romance , and Desert Peace , but hopes for Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G1) of his connections were ruined by a hock infection. He goes into Friday’s race with a 4-for-5 record and is definitely the horse to beat in his previous form.
“(The infection) went the wrong way for us, so it was decided not to run,” Appleby explains. “He shipped back to the UK, had the summer off and has done quite well physically. We are working back from a Saudi Cup (G1) or a Dubai World Cup (G1) start. He arrived early in Dubai on November and the preparation went well.”
He added that he expects Rebel’s Romance to improve from Friday’s race.
Desert Peace , a $1.3 million purchase of Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2018 by curlin , is also in line, after finishing second in the Belmont Stakes Day turf allowance, claiming optional nightcap before returning to Dubai and winning over this course and distance on January 1.
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Plus Que Parfait, winless since his upset win in the 2019 UAE Derby for then-trainer Brendan Walsh, made his first start for Doug Watson last month in the listed Entisar Presented By Umm Al Quwain Sponsored By Joint Aviation Command on this journey, but made backed up badly after racing in midfield.
“He’s a warhorse, but had a bad quarter-quarter tear in the front of the hoof after the race, which I’m sure stabbed him,” Watson said. “It’s grown a bit and he’s had some good breezes since then. He’s not doing much wrong. He’s not bleeding, his air is good and I’m hopeful he’s got a big race. I know he has in 16 starts didn’t win, but he’s healthy and we’re confident.”
The main competition otherwise in the full field of 16 seems to come from South American Group 1 winners Tax Adjustment and Manakin Dubai , as well as the progressive pair sorry and Dear Bellini.
Strong hand for Appleby
In addition to returning the mercurial albahr to action in the $60,000 UAE Two Thousand Guineas Trial, Appleby has strong hands in both the Al Fahidi Fort (G2) and Al Rashidiya (G2), over seven and nine furlongs on grass and worth $180,000 respectively. In the first, a race he has dominated in recent years, his pair is led by naval crown , fourth in last year’s Qipco Two Thousand Guineas (G1). In the Al Rashidiya, his trio is led by Valley Art , last seen finishing fourth in the Emirates Airline (G1) sponsored Jebel Hatta in the back Mr Glitters , who resists here again.
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“Naval Crown will come out for the run and he’s taking good solid European form into the race and I’m looking forward to getting him back on track,” said Appleby. “Art du Val is in good Dubai form and had a nice summer break. Our mentality is very much for him to be a carnival horse. He will be a big player if he shows up with his A-game.”
Meanwhile, Dubai Golden Shaheen sponsored by Gulf News (G1) third screened resurfaces to top the $150,000 Dubawi Stakes (G3) over the same six furlongs. Trained by Doug Watson for Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum, his league includes former Bob Baffert apprentice freedom fighter , now under the tutelage of UAE’s current leading trainer Bhupat Seemar.
“Canvassed is the best he’s been to us,” Watson said. “He’s gotten a lot thicker and stronger and I’m never really worried about him. He’ll put himself in a decent position and he had a really nice piece of work with Meydan recently.”
The first post on Friday is 6:00 PM local time, 9:00 AM ET. All seven races can be streamed live via the free Emirates Racing Authority app.
O’Neill interns in good order
In other news: on Tuesday night, eight Doug O’Neill interns arrived in Meydan’s Dubai World Cup quarantine, crowned by Class 1 winner Hot Rod Charlie . If all goes well, the octet is expected to make its first appearance on the Meydan track on the morning of January 21.