By Muhammad Rafiq
DUBAI: Local legend Reynaldothewizard takes centre stage in Thursday’s second Dubai World Cup Carnival meeting at Meydan Racecourse. He faces six rivals in an attempt to win the upgraded Dubawi Stakes (Group 3) Sponsored By Borealis for a remarkable fifth time.
Inaugurated in 2010 as a conditions race, the Satish Seemar-trained Reynaldothewizard first won the 1200m contest on the previous all-weather surface in 2013. It was a Listed race by the time he won it in 2015, on the same dirt surface as Thursday’s renewal and he has defended his crown in each of the last two seasons. The Dubawi Stakes is a Group Three this year and Seemar’s charge, who went on to win the Group 1 Golden Shaheen on the Dubai World Cup card in 2013, will be making his seasonal debut having not run since last year’s Golden Shaheen when he was eighth.
Champion Jockey Richard Mullen, who registered the biggest success of his career on the horse in that 2013 Golden Shaheen said: “He is 12 now and has been an amazing horse for all of us at Zabeel Stables. He seems fit and well at home; certainly nobody has told him he is 12. He has never been much of a work horse in the mornings which has probably aided the longevity of his career; he saves it for the track and hopefully, has another big run in him Thursday but it will not be easy.”
His six opponents actually include a second Golden Shaheen winner, the 2016 victor Muarrab, now trained by Ali Rashid Al Rayhi for His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum. He failed to beat a rival in last year’s Golden Shaheen but made a winning seasonal reappearance on his second start for Al Rayhi in last month’s Listed Garhoud Sprint over the same 1200m on dirt. The mount of the owner’s first jockey Jim Crowley, he has actually chased Reynaldothewizard home in this race both last year and in 2015, as well as finishing a well-beaten fifth in 2016.
Al Rayhi said: “We were very pleased with that comeback win and it was a good team effort as he had a few issues we had worked on. Hopefully he is back to something approaching his best, in which case he will run a big race.”
Second in that Garhoud Sprint was Comicas, who filled the same position in last year’s Golden Shaheen for Godolphin and Charlie Appleby. The 5-year-old chestnut was thought to be in need of the run on that return a month ago at Meydan and Appleby expects him to go close.
“The Golden Shaheen, obviously over the same course and distance, was a career best from Comicas,” Appleby said, “He has definitely come on a lot for his comeback run and, on his best form, he has to be thereabouts on Thursday.”
Third in last month’s Garhoud Sprint, the Doug Watson-trained My Catch also contested the 2017 Golden Shaheen, when tenth. Winner of the 2014 Garhoud Sprint, he is very capable on his day and is another to consider under Pat Dobbs.
Watson said: “He was not really himself and misbehaved on the evening of the Garhoud Sprint when he did not really fire. He is better than that and seems in great shape at home so, if he breaks well, can hopefully go close.”
However My Catch fares, Watson’s Rayya looks to have major claims in the 1400m UAE 1000 Guineas Trial, also on dirt, but restricted to 3-year-old fillies. She has only had one start six weeks ago and blitzed nine rivals in a fillies’ maiden over this course and distance.
“She is very exciting,” said Watson. “She has done everything asked of her and Thursday is the next step.”
The trainer will be hoping she can emulate former stable companion Polar River, who won a maiden and Thursday’s race before landing both the UAE 1000 Guineas and UAE Oaks in 2016.
Appleby’s Expressiy represents Godolphin, as do the Saeed bin Suroor duo Caring Touch and Winter Lightning, a Shamardal half-sister to the same connections’ Thunder Snow, winner of both UAE colts’ classics last year and twice a Group One scorer.
Bin Suroor said: “Both my fillies have thrived in Dubai and I expect them to run well.”