Four of 10 night meetings have been run at the 11th annual Dubai World Cup Carnival, creating an infusion of horse racing excitement at the beginning of the new year.
With the grand finale in the Dubai World Cup scheduled for March 29, there is plenty of action to look forward to in the United Arab Emirates. The spectacle attracts elite competition from all around the globe to compete in marquee races, all building toward the thrilling conclusion.
Let's take a closer look at the remainder of the race calendar and what is on tap as the festival continues to build momentum.
|Remaining Race Calendar for 2014 Dubai World Cup Carnival|
|Thursday, Feb. 6||Dubai World Cup Carnival Night 5|
|Thursday, Feb. 13||Dubai World Cup Carnival Night 6|
|Saturday, Feb. 15||Racing at Meydan Racecourse|
|Thursday, Feb. 20||Dubai World Cup Carnival Night 7|
|Thursday, Feb. 27||Dubai World Cup Carnival Night 8|
|Saturday, Mar. 1||Dubai World Cup Carnival Night 9|
|Saturday, Mar. 8||Dubai World Cup Carnival Night 10 (4:30 p.m.)|
|Thursday, Mar. 13||Racing at Meydan Racecourse|
|Saturday, Mar. 29||Dubai World Cup (4:30 p.m.)|
|Source: DubaiWorldCup.com. All post times are 6:30 p.m. local unless otherwise noted.|
Notable Horses to Watch
In addition to being named after an immensely popular film, this five-year-old colt from South Africa is one of the more interesting prospects to watch at the Dubai World Cup Carnival.
Trainer Doug Watson may not know what to expect either because Slumdogmillionaire was among the horses from his native land that recently underwent an extensive six-month quarantine, according to DubaiRaceNight.com editor Pat Cummings.
That explains why Slumdogmillionaire hasn't competed since winning the Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes this past March.
The extended layoff could serve the former Grade 1 winner well given his age, and it could translate into another standout performance leading to possible World Cup contention.
Let's praise a filly here with the Charles Appleby-trained Wedding Ring. Wedding Ring's impressive victory at Meydan on Jan. 16 gave her a berth in the UAE Guineas Stakes.
That race is slated for Thursday, Feb. 6—the next carnival meeting on the schedule. Appleby felt great about the work that went into that win and is confident that his three-year-old will be up to the task in the next outing despite the increased length from seven furlongs to a full mile, per GoDolphin.com:
We were very happy with Wedding Ring's preparation going into this race...She switches off very well and I think that she will get a mile around Meydan. For a filly who has natural speed, she relaxes very well, which is a great attribute. She can be switched off in a race and ridden to use her turn of foot.
Jockey Mickael Barzalona has been in the saddle for two of Wedding Ring's three consecutive wins, and both of the ones before her triumph in the UAE Guineas Stakes Trial.
Channel 4 Racing's Gina Bryce also gave Wedding Ring a strong endorsement following her exceptional performance:
The fact that Wedding Ring is able to break so late in races, and that she has demonstrated that on more than one occasion in her recent appearances, hints that she's ready to take the step up to a full mile. Look for her to make headlines in the next meeting and to find the winners' circle.
Battle of Marengo
The dominant father-son tandem of trainer Aidan O'Brien and his son Joseph O'Brien, a precocious 20-year-old jockey, rode Battle of Marengo to huge success over the previous two years.
With five consecutive victories and a proven ability to go longer distances, Battle of Marengo was a favorite at the Epsom Derby and at Royal Ascot this past summer. However, the three-year-old colt came in fourth in the former race and second in the marquee King Edward VII Stakes.
Then Battle of Marengo placed a disappointing seventh out of eight in his last appearance at the Grand Prix De Paris in July.
Now under the tutelage of trainer Ernst Oertel in Dubai, perhaps a long break from competition could galvanize Battle of Marengo as Slumdogmillionaire's connections are hoping for.
Oertel felt great about the horse back in October when the purchase was made and has reason to be optimistic with his new prized commodity, per The National's Geoffrey Riddle:
"He should be the better horse,” said Oertel. “Joseph O’Brien always rode him, and at home it was said he was a different class. I am happy with what I have got, and I wouldn’t swap him."
Battle of Marengo will have to be of a different class than he's displayed in his past three showings to be a truly worthwhile investment. Given his history as a champion, it wouldn't be wise to completely discount him.