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Thursday, January 29, 2004


A total of 27 international contenders will go to post for the Derrinstown and Shadwell Estate sponsored opening meeting of the inaugural Dubai International Racing Carnival at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse on Thursday evening.

The 2004 Dubai International Racing Carnival sees nine weeks of top quality sporting and social entertainment, encompassing the most prestigious races run in Dubai

The total prize money during the Carnival is US$21,000,000 with an average of over US$117,000 per race, outside of the Dubai World Cup meeting. The Dubai International Racing Carnival culminates on March 27th, with the richest day in the global horseracing calendar, the Dubai World Cup meeting, with two Group II races and five Group I events, four for Thoroughbreds and one for Purebred Arabians, including the US$6,000,000 Dubai World Cup, sponsored by Emirates Airline.

Victory Moon, trained in South Africa by Mike de Kock, can make a winning return to Dubai in the first round of the US$ 150,000 Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum Challenge (Group III) for Thoroughbred over 1,600 metres. The five-year-old, who will be partnered on Thursday by Weichong Marwing, won four races last season in Dubai, including the UAE 2,000 Guineas (Gr.III) and the UAE Derby (Gr.II) on Dubai World Cup day.

First season trainer Doug Watson, who is currently leading the UAE Trainer's Championship will be represented in the Maktoum Challenge by three runners, Al Maali, Curule and Dubai Honor.

Al Maali, the mount of Richard Hills, made a winning seasonal debut at Nad Al Sheba, when winning by an impressive six lengths over 1,500 metres and is stepping up in class on Thursday. The five-year-olds most recent outing saw him finish third to the Mazin Al Kurdi-trained Conflict, who also lines up in the Maktoum Challenge with Ted Durcan in the saddle.

Dubai Honor was a decent winner of the Listed Jebel Ali Stakes over 1,600 metres, Willies Supple takes the ride on Thursday and he has a chance of going close.

Ismail Mohammed runs the Premio Vittorio di Capua (Gr.I) runner-up Blatant, previously trained by Saeed bin Suroor and the mount of reigning UAE champion jockey Gary Hind.

Change the Grange, the mount of Frankie Dettori and trained by Allen Tam, will be racing for the first time outside his home base of Macau, the five-year-old gelding has won 10 of his 26 starts in Macau and will be suited by the 1,600 metres on dirt.

Kuwaiti-based trainer Rashid Bouresly runs the Brett Doyle-partnered Seeking the Prize, a winner here two weeks ago over 2,000 metres and may have a bit to find on Thursday.

Jerry Barton, trained in Saudi Arabia, sends over his mare Fabria, who was disappointing in the Godolphin Mile last season, but has won her last two starts over 1,600 metres in Saudi.

Local trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe runs Tropical Star who has landed his last three outings at Nad Al Sheba and will be suited by the 1,600 metres. He will be ridden by the in-form Richard Mullen, who is currently leading the UAE Jockey's Championship.

Allan Smith runs Walmooh who was a length and a quarter runner-up to Conceal in the Listed HH The President Cup over 1,600 metres at Abu Dhabi earlier in the month.

Jacks Estate, trained in Ireland by Adrian McGuinness, could be the first internationally-trained winner of the 2004 Dubai International Racing Carnival in the second race of the evening, The Marju Stakes, a 90+ Thoroughbred Handicap over the straight 1,200 metres.

Of the nine runners in this US$90,000 Handicap six are international challengers, along with Jacks Estate, there is the Nick Littmoden-trained Peruvian Chief, who will be the first England-based runner of the Carnival. Bouresly runs his Listed HH The President Cup winner Conceal, Hind in the saddle. Dettori partners the Macau-based challenger Elegance Champion, trained by Gary Moore, who on current form could have a chance here.

Swedish trainer Diego Lowther will be represented by Rotulo, the mount of Manuel Santos who was runner-up in his last outing on the dirt at Taby Racecourse over this trip. The de Kock-trained National Icon, Marwing up, deserves a closer look and was a good maiden winner at Scotsville over 1,000 metres.

The European trainers are out in force in the first turf race of the Carnival, the 2,000 metre Green Desert Handicap. Sweden's horse of the year Halfsong could take all the beating following her wins in the Danish Derby, Danish Oaks, Swedish Oaks and neck runner-up in the Swedish Derby, trained by Karl Andersen the four-year-old filly will be ridden by Ryan Moore.

David Loder and Jamie Spencer team up with Shami, off the track since May but should appreciate the trip. Jeremy Noseda runs the Spinning World gelding Courageous Duke, the mount of Michael Kinane.

Trainer Erwan Charpy and Dettori have a chance with the Italian-owned Aravis, a Listed winner at Strasbourg last time over 2,100 metres. Hind takes the ride on the Ismail Mohammed-trained Wilful, who had fairly decent form in England has also been off the track since May.

Mark Johnston, who has brought six horses out for the Dubai International Racing Carnival, has his first runner in the third race with the Stanley Chin-partnered Jebal Suraaj, a distance winner at Sandown in May. De Kock, runs Prince of War, who has been racing in Singapore, with his most recent win coming in August with a neck victory over 1,600 metres at Kranji Racecourse.

Barton has a chance in the fourth race the Elnadim Handicap over 1,400 metres with Fardaan, who ran respectively here over 1,500 metres on New Year's Day, Sebastian Madrid takes the ride on Thursday. Watson can sneak into a place with the Supple-partnered Burnt Ember, an easy winner last time out at Jebel Ali over 1,600 metres. Northern Rock, trained by Al Kurdi, has decent form in America and also has place claims.

In the final race of the evening, over the Dubai Duty Free trip of 1,777 metres on the turf, Johnston's Gateman looks to have a good chance with Chin in the saddle. John Oxx and stable jockey Kinane team up with Legacy, an easy winner over 1,900 metres in August.

In the opening race of the evening, the Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum Challenge (Gr.I) for Purebred Arabians, should go to the Gillian Duffield-trainer Kaolino.


Peter Bowen revealed yesterday that Take The Stand will "definitely go" for the £50,000 Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster on Saturday (January 31).

The eight-year-old has been in fine form this season, winning on three occasions including most recently a handicap chase at Exeter in December, when proving six lengths too powerful for Over The Storm. On his one subsequent start he was a creditable fourth to Bindaree, the 2002 Martell Cognac Grand National hero, in the Welsh National at Chepstow just after Christmas.

Pembrokeshire-based Bowen reports his charge, who is a 12/1 chance with the sponsors, in fine form.

"Take The Stand had a 10-day break after Chepstow and he's in tip-top order. He did his last piece of work this morning (Wednesday) and worked really well," he said.

Bowen was delighted when hearing that Steven Clarke, General Manager of Doncaster Racecourse, had just reported that: "The going remains unchanged at Good, Good to Firm in Places on the Chase course, Good on the Hurdle course. There's some snow on the track this afternoon but we're hopeful of milder temperatures later in the week."

Bowen added: "That's ideal for Take The Stand - perfect. The [soft] ground wouldn't have suited him at all at Chepstow so that was a good effort really.

"That form looks good now because Hedgehunter wasn't that far in front of him there [10 lengths] and he's come out and won a big race in Ireland. Also the horse of Henrietta Knight's that finished second to him at Exeter came out and won a good race at Sandown afterwards - so his form is rock solid."

Bowen could give Take The Stand his first taste of the Aintree fences later in the campaign as he has given the Witness Box gelding an entry for the Martell Cognac Grand National.

"The Grand National is seriously in my mind at the moment and he would get in [to the race] as well - we'll see how he goes on Saturday obviously," continued the handler. "The Scottish Grand National and that sort of race would suit him as well."

Sky Bet have seen further support for Rodalko in the Sky Bet Chase, with the Oliver Sherwood-trained six-year-old shortening to 4/1 favourite (from 5/1). Gottabe has also been backed and he is now 10/1 (from 14/1).

Dale Tempest, Public Relations Director for Sky Bet, said today: "The money is continuing to come for Rodalko. It looks likely that when people have started looking at this race in detail, they have realised it very often throws up a promising young chaser with previous winners such as Young Hustler, Addington Boy and Beau."

A full list of betting from Sky Bet is: 4/1 Rodalko, 5/1 Magical Bailiwick, 9/1 Irish Hussar, 10/1 World Wide Web, Lord Noelie and Gottabe, 12/1 Jimmy Tennis and Take The Stand, 14/1 Royal Atalza, Tom Costalot and Jaloux D'Estruval, 16/1 bar

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