The Dubai Racing Club released provisional fields for the 2014 Dubai World Cup meeting, where a stellar equine cast appears certain to grace Meydan on Saturday, March 29.
A full field of 16 look set to face the starter in the world’s richest horse race, the $10 million (Dh36.7m) Dubai World Cup over 2,000m on the Tapeta.
Only six of the 16 have failed to win in Group 1 company, including Godolphin’s African Story, winner of the 2012 Godolphin Mile on the big night and fifth in last year’s World Cup.
He is trained by Saeed bin Suroor, as is Prince Bishop, winner of the Al Maktoum Challenge III, over the same course and distance as the World Cup, on Super Saturday last weekend.
Stable companion Hunter’s Light won that race last year before a disappointing seventh in the World Cup.
Prince Bishop and Hunter’s Light both have also won the Al Maktoum Challenge II in 2013 and 2012 respectively. Bin Suroor is seeking a sixth win in the race, but his representatives arguably need to step up with the likes of The Fugue waiting in the wings.
Three times a Group 1 winner for trainer John Gosden and owner Lord Lloyd-Webber, she represents the same connections as Dar Re Mi, winner of the Sheema Classic in 2010, the first World Cup night at Meydan.
No Epsom Derby winner has ever won the Dubai World Cup, though 1998 Derby winner High-Rise is the only one to have tried, but the Aidan O’Brien-trained Ruler Of The World looks set to try and rectify that.
Hong Kong representatives Akeed Mofeed and Military Attack will merit respect as will Japanese duo Belshazzar and Hokko Tarumae.
The turf races on World Cup night are traditionally the most competitive, and this year’s Group 1 2,400m Sheema Classic looks set to be a cracker with a full field of 16 nominated at this stage.
These include Cirrus Des Aigleswinner of the race in 2012 and one of nine runners in the projected field with a Group 1 win to their credit. They include Gentildonna, the 2012 Japan Cup heroine and second in this race last year, as well as Aidan O’Brien’s Magician, winner of last year’s Irish 2000 Guineas and Breeders’ Cup Turf – beating The Fugue.
The 2011 Melbourne Cup winner, Dunaden, will be another fascinating contender.
At this stage, only 10 names are going forward for the Group 1 1,800m Dubai Duty Free, normally the strongest race on the card but looking to lack strength in depth this year. Of the 10, only Super Saturday winner Vercingetorix, the Stoute-trained Dank and Japanese duo Logotype and Just A Way, can boast a Group 1 victory.
Last year’s Golden Shaheen winner Reynaldothewizard is set to defend his crown, as is Godolphin’s Cavalryman (Dubai Gold Cup), as well as the Mike De Kock-trained duo Shea Shea (Al Quoz Sprint) and Soft Falling Rain (Godolphin Mile).
A lot can change over the next 10 days or so, but the 2014 Dubai World Cup card promises to be a cracker.
The best set to race for top honours
Dubai World Cup
Sir Michael Stoute remains the only UK trainer to have won the world’s richest horse race (1997 Singspiel) and Hillstar will be only his third runner in the race.
Winner of the Al Maktoum Challenge III, the official prep for the Dubai World Cup, over the same 2,000m Tapeta course and distance, can he finally justify the faith of his trainer Saeed bin Suroor?
Ruler Of The World
Last year’s Epsom Derby winner is an obvious star name on the world’s richest night of horse racing and part of a strong contingent for Irish Champion Trainer Aidan O’Brien.
Thrice a Group 1 winner, only a combination of bad luck and career-best performances from her opponents have denied her similar top-flight success on numerous occasions. Owned by Lord Lloyd-Webber.
Dubai Seema Classic
Cirrus Des Aigles
Winner of this race in 2012, one of his three Group 1 victories, he arrives here having been beaten on Polytrack in his prep race, as he was two years ago.
Lived up to his name when winning the Group 1 Hong Kong Vase in December, from World Cup aspirant The Fugue.
Winner of the 2011 Melbourne Cup, Australia’s biggest race, and winner of the same year’s Hong Kong Vase, he went back ‘Down Under’ in 2012 to win the Group 1 Caulfield Cup. Not won since, but was fourth in this last year.
Last year’s runner-up, though many will argue she should have won. Made history in 2012 when becoming the first threeyear- old filly to win the Japan Cup.
Another member of the strong Aidan O’Brien raiding party. Won last year’s Irish 2000 Guineas and the Breeders’ Cup Turf, beating World Cup hopeful The Fugue.