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Wednesday, February 9, 2005


The first four home in the opening round return to do battle in the second round of the US$200,000 Al Maktoum Challenge (Gr.III) for Thoroughbreds, sponsored by the Al Rostamani Group, at Nad Al Sheba on Thursday night, the fourth meeting of the 2005 Dubai International Racing Carnival and a programme that also includes the US$250,000 UAE 2000 Guineas (Gr.III).

Three weeks ago the Mike de Kock-trained Grand Emporium proved too good for the Kermal Saglam-trained Kaneko, Jack Sullivan, trained by Gerald Butler, and Jerry Barton's Chiquitin over 1,600m, though after the race excuses were heard from the beaten brigade and they get their chance to exact revenge over 200m further on Thursday night.

Added to the mix is Godolphin¹s Inamorato who has had two runs over the course and distance for a runaway defeat of Victory Moon in the 2003 Al Bastakiya and a second to the same horse in this race last year, prior to his fifth to stablemate Firebreak in the Godolphin Mile on Dubai World Cup night.

Inamorato has to concede fitness to all of his rivals, aside from Fandango Dancer, a 100,000 guinea purchase from last October's Tattersalls Horses in Training Sale, and this could be the key as Grand Emporium and Chiquitin are sure to have come on a great deal for their opening round efforts.

Grand Emporium was having his first run in six months while Chiquitin was having his first start in seven months and on that basis, those two would be expected to improve more than Jack Sullivan and Kaneko.

Kaneko, winner of the Turkish 2000 Guineas and second in the Turkish Derby last year, had the benefit of campaigning through 2004 in Turkey with his final run in November prior to coming to Dubai, while Jack Sullivan had a small campaign on the all weather in England and his Maktoum Challenge run came just three weeks after his previous effort at Lingfield.

Kaneko, the mount of Halis Karatas, was the underrated runner heading into the opening round however he will not be for this, the horse looking the likely winner at one stage when accelerating clear shortly after straightening however Grand Emporium proved too good in the final stages.

Jack Sullivan appears to relish the Nad Al Sheba surface, finishing second in the UAE 2000 Guineas (Gr.III) last year before his fourth in the UAE Derby (Gr.II) and his third in the opening round of the Al Maktoum Challenge (Gr.III).

Although he has yet to win beyond 1,400m and he steps up to 1,800m, here his racing style indicates that he would run the trip, his fourth to Lundy's Liability over this course and distance in last year's UAE Derby (Gr.II) being the evidence.

Grand Emporium could not have been more impressive in the first round and another win here will give trainer Mike de Kock a slight dilemma, whether he continues on with the horse towards the US$6,000,000 Dubai World Cup (Gr.I) or drops him back in trip for either the US$2,000,000 Dubai Duty Free (Gr.I) (1,777m turf) or the US$1,000,000 Godolphin Mile (Gr.II) (1,600m dirt).

There are some who have doubted Grand Emporium's true ability at 2,000m however his form over the distance in South Africa is first class.

De Kock commented on Wednesday, "Last time was Grand Emporium's first try on the dirt, he has a dirt pedigree but you never know until you try, he is a big striding horse which always helps on the dirt.

"We are not sure whether he will be in the third round of the Maktoum Challenge (Group II on Super Saturday – March 5th) as we could have Yard-Arm in that race."

When questioned on the opposition De Kock said, "I am expecting a lot of improvement from the Turkish horse Kaneko and on paper it looks between Grand Emporium and Kaneko. I have been very impressed by the quality of the Turkish horses."

Chiquitin's record in Argentina was very good, this will be just the sixth start for the horse, so he will definitely improve, and the small field will suit here. In the opening round Kaneko gave him no peace in front however that may be different in this with the smaller field.

Last year's Italian Champion two-year-old Becrux has his first start for his new owners in the US$250,000 UAE 2000 Guineas (Gr.III), sponsored by the Al Rostamani Group, the horse aiming to give de Kock his second UAE 2000 Guineas (Gr.III) in three years after Victory Moon's success in 2003.

Southern Hemisphere-breds have won the last two runnings of the Guineas and five line up this year including Barton's Duque De Enghien, the mount of Willie Supple, unbeaten in five runs, and the Grade 1 winners Mr Pensky, also from Barton's yard and Urquell, trained in Saudi Arabia by Julio Gardel.

Mr Pensky defeated Urquell in the Grade 1 Montevideo Copa before Urquell confirmed the form later in the year with his win in the Argentine 2000 Guineas (Gr.I) however Mr Pensky was well beaten on his first Dubai run when ninth to Stagelight in Conditions company on January 27.

Stagelight, trained by Jeremy Noseda and the mount of Eddie Ahern, will again be hard to beat while the interesting runners include Caesar Beware, winner of the Doncaster St Leger Sales race before his purchase by Sheikh Rashid bin Mohammed Al Maktoum last year, and the Clive Brittain-trained Tony James, winner of the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes at York last August.

Racing kicks off on Thursday at 7.00pm with the second round of the US$55,000 Al Maktoum Challenge (Gr.I) for Purebred Arabians, sponsored by the Al Rostamani Group.

Gillian Duffield's Jiyush, the mount of Richard Hills looks the pick in the 2,400 metres race along with the Erwan Charpy-trained Kerjam, a winner over 2,200 metres at Abu Dhabi last time.

Barton's Taif, Mick Kinane in the saddle, looks to have a great chance in the second race, the US$110,000 Al Rostamani Sponsored Turf handicap over 2,400 metres.

Already a distance winner in Saudi Arabia, Taif finished a closing second to Afghan over 2,000 metres on the dirt on the opening night of the Carnival.

Grand Stand, who was the first internationally trained winner of the 2004 Carnival, lines up in the third race, the US$90,000 Al Rostamani International Rated Stakes over 1,400 metres on the dirt.

Dhruba Selvaratnam's Naadey was a comfortable course and distance winner on January 15th and could have a good chance under Pat Smullen.

Fabricio Borges, who saddled Suishi-Bar to an impressive win last Thursday, runs Sleipner, the mount of Tiago Pereira, who won his only career start in July over 1,300 metres at Gavea Racecourse in Brazil.

Borges saddles Outcraft in the next race, the US$110,000 Al Rostamani Handicap over 1,600 metres on the turf.

Rupert Pritchard-Gordon runs the filly Imshy in the US$110,000 Al Rostamani Handicap over 1,200 metres on the dirt. The filly will be joined in the race by three other international contenders including the Diego Lowther-trained Rotulo, Kevin Ryan's Quiet Times and Luigi Riccardi's Dream Impact, the mount of Paolo Aragoni.


Stakes performer Snow Princess (IRE) gave birth to a filly foal by Indian Ridge last night at Newsells Park Stud. The foal is a full sister to the ill fated Snow Ridge who had showed so much promise when winning the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes at Ascot as a two-year-old and coming second to Haafhd in the Group 1 2000 Guineas running for Godolphin.

Snow Princess is due to visit Indian Ridge again this season.


On February 18th the Government's Hunting Act 2004 which will ban hunting comes into effect. In response to the Act most hunts in the country will meet on Saturday 19th February to highlight the support for hunting in the countryside and to demonstrateto the politicians the need for a rethink on a total ban.

In recognition of the historic link between racing and hunting the Thurlow Hunt are meeting on February 19th at Tattersalls Park Paddocks in Newmarket. The meet will take place at 12 noon and will give people in the Newmarket area and the racing industry an opportunity to show their support for hunting. After the meet the hunt will ride over the Heath with the permission of the Jockey Club Estates.

Anyone who would like to show their solidarity with hunting and would like to support the Thurlow Hunt is very welcome to attend either on horseback (dress as you like) or on foot.

Tattersalls Chairman Edmond Mahony said; ‘Tattersalls is pleased to be able to provide the venue for the Thurlow Hunt meet on February 19th. The Government's decision to ban hunting through the use of the Parliament Act has sent a shock wave through the rural community and it poses a real threat to the larger economy in the countryside. It is to be hoped that a sensible and practical solution to the ban can be found so that jobs and incremental business such as point-to-point racing are not irretrievably damaged'.

Thurlow Hunt Chairman James Crowhurst said; ‘We are grateful to Tattersalls for hosting the Thurlow Hunt on 19th February 2005. We have had many enquiries from the racing community offering help so this is a wonderful opportunity for all supporters, either on horses or on foot, to show the strength of local feeling. The Thurlow Hunt is determined to survive one way or another and we are expecting a large turnout'.

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