TALISMANIC ON TARGET FOR DUBAI WORLD CUP
Certainly one of the most eye-catching horses in training, Godolphin’s emblazoned bay Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) champion Talismanic is looking to turn heads again in early spring when he possibly lines up in the Dubai World Cup (G1) on March 31st. Fresh off a stellar second-place performance in the Hong Kong Vase (G1) behind the brilliant Highland Reel, the son of Dubai World Cup runner-up Medaglia d’Oro, who has yet to race on dirt, is being pointed for the $10 million Meydan Racecourse fixture by decorated conditioner Andre Fabre from his French training base.
“Talismanic is on course for the Dubai World Cup,” said Lisa-Jane Graffard, who looks after Godolphin’s racing interests in France. “André Fabre suggested it after he came back from the Breeders’ Cup as a potential long-range target. The horse has wintered really well and looks in great condition. He appears to have fully recovered from his trips to Del Mar and Hong Kong.
“The (Dubai World Cup) is the target for him now as the horse appears to have some aptitudes which would suggest it’s worth trying him on dirt,” Graffard continued. “In regularly training, albeit doing steady work at Del Mar, he showed a very easy action on the dirt track there. He’s also a horse who is easy to place in his races and can lie up with the pace and is by a top-class dirt stallion. He has an excellent temperament and is a good traveller, adapting to different situations easily. It’s a big step into the unknown, but André Fabre is very talented at pinpointing objectives that might not seem obvious to anyone else.”
Talismanic, who is marked with an appealing excess of white on his face and legs, is out of G3-winning mare Magic Mission, a daughter of Machiavellian. A son of Mr. Prospector, Machiavellian sired Dubai World Cup winner Street Cry, among other dirt-inclined offspring.
The 5-year-old has six wins and has finished in the top three in 13 of 17 lifetime starts, including a victory in the about-2800m Prix Maurice de Nieul (G2) last July. Long held in high regard, having finished fourth in the Prix du Jockey Club (G1) and then 11th in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) as a 3-year-old, it was not until the latter half of his 4-year-old season that the world saw the true potential of the hard-trying horse, whose Dubai prep plans are yet to be decided.
“Plans are still up in the air and André will decide based on how far along he can get prepping Talismanic at home in Chantilly,” she said. “He could go to Dubai for a prep on Super Saturday (March 10th), or he could stay at home for the Chantilly preps on the 6th of March. Nothing has been confirmed as yet.”
CHAMPIONSHIP READY TO DEFEND HIS FORT
Multiple Group 2 winner Championship has done little wrong at Meydan and trainer Ahmad bin Harmash would like that to continue when the Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed Al Maktoum-owned 7-year-old makes his seasonal bow on Thursday. The son of Exceed and Excel, who has three wins and two seconds from six runs over the previous two Dubai World Cup Carnivals, will defend his title in the Al Fahidi Fort (G2) over 1400m.
“He’s doing very, very well,” bin Harmash said. “We’ll see how he’s going to run, but he’s doing well. He looks the same as always and is a fresh horse.
“His handicap (rating) is so high, we had to save him for this spot,” bin Harmash continued. “Don’t forget that last year he started at 102 and now we are 117, so you can’t run him in handicap races because of the weight (assigned to him).
“I think he will do his job (on Thursday).”
The Al Fahidi Fort goes as the fifth of seven races on Thursday’s Carnival card. Silvestre De Sousa is booked to ride, substituting for suspended Colm O’Donoghue, who piloted the chestnut gelding to a pair of open-length G2 wins last season, including a course record-setting win in the Zabeel Mile (1:35.19). Championship also set a course mark when winning last year’s Al Fahidi Fort (1:22.82), a record that was lowered earlier this meet by Godolphin’s Charlie Appleby-trained D’Bai (1:22.32), who lines up in opposition on Thursday.
ERTIJAAL SHARP AT SEVEN
Ertijaal, one of the most popular horses in local training, is progressing exceptionally well for conditioner Ali Rashid Al Rayhi and is on target for a defence of the Meydan Sprint (G2) on February 22nd. The son of Oasis Dream exits a workmanlike victory in 1000m handicap company where he out-willed talented Group 3-winning 4-year-old Hit the Bid.
“He came out fine and has had two good works since,” said Gilani Siddiqui, assistant trainer. “We are just waiting for the (Meydan Sprint) and will work him again on Thursday morning on the turf (training track).
“I think he should improve in his next race,” Siddiqui continued. “He had a big break before the last race and I think he needed the run. (Hit the Bid) has already run and was in form and Ertijaal had come off a break, so it was harder for him to get out from that horse. I think he’ll be better this time. His works have been very good.”
Despite failing to put away his foes in the dominant fashion to which fans have become accustomed, Ertijaal equaled his career-best Racing Post Rating of 123 in his January 11th seasonal bow, while giving away significant weight to his foes. A barn favorite because of his gentle nature, he appears primed to unleash some aggression on the competition when he lines up in the same race that saw him set the 1000m course record a year prior.
Ertijaal’s 118 international rating, earned in said event, made him the highest-rated UAE-based horse of 2017.
D B PIN EYES SHAHEEN; CLASSIC EMPEROR TO HANDICAP
One of the top sprinters in Hong Kong, D B Pin has his connections Dubai dreaming after an excellent neck victory in the Centenary Sprint Cup (G1) on Jan. 28 over Sha Tin’s turf course. Leading home a 1-2-3 sweep for top Hong Kong conditioner John Size, the New Zealand-bred grandson of Danehill overtook highly rated Hong Kong Sprint (G1) winner Mr. Stunning with a determined drive, hinting that he is still amid a positive form trajectory.
D B Pin, who has raced on grass in all but one start, a dirt victory in a Sha Tin Class 2 handicap last April, will now switch surfaces and possibly point for the Dubai Golden Shaheen at Meydan on March 31st, Dubai World Cup day.
“We’ll see how he goes, he’s obviously got the rating to travel now and he’s a high-rated sprinter, so he’s got the figure where he could be competitive,” Size told HKJC officials. “That race is on dirt, he’s won a race here on the dirt track and we’ll certainly consider it.”
Last year, Size-trained Amazing Kids was sixth in the Al Quoz Sprint (G1).
In other Hong Kong-Dubai news, according to the Hong Kong Jockey Club, Sha Tin Class 2 handicap winner Classic Emperor will opt for a February 22nd 1600m handicap at Meydan as his local debut in lieu of the Firebreak (G3) five days prior at the same trip.
Popular Group I-winning jockey Derek Leung will ride the son of Medaglia d’Oro, who is expected to arrive in Dubai the evening of February 8th.
IMPROVING JANSZOON STRETCHES BACK OUT
In a short amount of time, lightly raced Janszoon has made a name for himself at Meydan. The gray son of top stallion Dubawi has flashed an impressive turn-of-foot in his two local victories from three starts, including a Dubai World Cup Carnival tally by an eye-opening five lengths on Jan. 18 under Silvestre De Sousa for trainer Ali Rashid Al Rayhi.
Owned by Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, the maternal grandson of Unbridled’s Song –hence his color– will step up 400m in trip and make his third start in four weeks on Thursday in the nightcap, the Hamdan bin Mohammed Cruise Terminal, a US$125,000 2400m handicap for those rated 95-105. Janszoon, rated 100, gets the return services of De Sousa.
“The way he ran last race, the stretch out is very good for him,” said Gilani Siddiqui, assistant trainer. “He was flat in the beginning of the race for 2000m, so I think the longer race will help him improve. Also, the way Silvestre rode him; not asking him earlier and relaxing him, helps (with the distance). He’s a very calm horse and he’s getting better and better. He’s always been very sound for us and has no issues.”
Previously trained by Charlie Hills for Godolphin in 2017, the gelding made a quintet of starts, with his sole victory coming at about 2300m at Lingfield. His best effort during that tenure was arguably a ninth of 18 in Royal Ascot’s Listed King George V Stakes at Thursday’s distance. Overall, he has three wins from eight starts.
QUICK HITS – Godolphin has confirmed that G1 winner Cloth of Stars is pointing toward the Longines Dubai Sheema Classic (G1). The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) runner-up joins an already stellar group aiming for the 2400m race, including Cracksman and Rey de Oro. Despite a lone G1 victory on the year, the Andre Fabre trainee landed as the world’s seventh-ranked horse of 2017. Trainer Antonio Sano has reported that Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) third-place finisher Gunnevera will be pointed toward the Dubai World Cup (G1). The G2-winning Venezuelan-owned and -trained colt, who is based in South Florida, has placed in three G1 events… 2016 Dubai Turf (G1) champion Real Steel is pointing toward a return to the same 1800m race that he won so impressively. Last year he was scratched four days prior to his attempted title defence after having bled from both nostrils during morning training… Shadwell Stable’s American G1 winner Takaful, a respectable third in the Toboggan (G3) over about-1400m last weekend at Aqueduct in New York, is possible for the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin… Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) runner-up Richard’s Boy, third in the Listed Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint on Saturday, is still on course to return to the Al Quoz Sprint (G1), in which he was fifth last year.