Dubai: Catching up with the Carnival highlights
In honor of that welcome development, let's catch up with the highlights of the Carnival so far. Since my after-action report on the January 8 opener in this space, I've kept the home fires burning over at Brisnet.com, so will link to my stories and analysis posted there. By going methodically in chronological order, we'll see the progression building up to "Super Saturday" March 7 and Dubai World Cup night March 28.
The January 15 Carnival program featured the pair of U.A.E. Guineas trials, with the Mike de Kock-trained Mubtaahij motoring to a track record in the Two Thousand Guineas warm-up, and Godolphin's Local Time getting up in workmanlike fashion among the fillies in the One Thousand Guineas prep. Ageless sprinter Reynaldothewizard made a winning nine-year-old debut in the Dubawi S. All the day's winners are mentioned in the recap, while my selective take on the events is in the following feature, "A Tale of Two Guineas Trials."
The January 22 card witnessed a turf course record by Godolphin's Safety Check in the Al Fahidi Fort (UAE-G2). The supporting races served up two hot prospects in de Kock's Umgiyo on turf and the progressive Tamarkuz on dirt. Click here for the full recap of the evening and my opinion-laden feature, "A Cautious Approach to Safety Check."
A pair of Group 2 turf events made for a memorable January 29. The mighty Vercingetorix (pictured) looked better than ever in his reappearance for de Kock in the Al Rashidiya (UAE-G2), a stepping stone to the Dubai Turf (formerly Duty Free) (UAE-G1), in which he finished best of the rest behind Just a Way last year. Alain de Royer-Dupre unleashed the up-and-coming Cladocera in the Cape Verdi (UAE-G2) for turf distaffers. On the undercard, Godolphin's classy veteran Hunter's Light scoffed at top weight off a layoff in a turf handicap, and Ahtoug signaled his well-being ahead of the Al Quoz Sprint (UAE-G1), in which he just missed last year.
On February 5, Frankiefourfingers improved on his runner-up effort in Round 1 of the Maktoum Challenge (UAE-G2) to take Round 2 (UAE-G2), a prep for the Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1), in record time on the Meydan dirt. Local Time likewise moved forward off her trial win to dominate the U.A.E. One Thousand Guineas, and de Kock's Mastermind wired the Meydan Classic Trial on turf.
The February 12 U.A.E. Two Thousand Guineas (UAE-G3) might actually have Kentucky Derby (G1) implications, for Godolphin's Maftool avenged his trial loss by besting Mubtaahij. Both are U.S. Triple Crown nominees on course for a likely rematch in the March 7 Al Bastakiya and the U.A.E. Derby (UAE-G2) on World Cup night, worth 100 Derby points to the winner. Reynaldothewizard won again in the Al Shindagha Sprint (UAE-G3), beating Krypton Factor, in a clash of former Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-G1) winners who are looking to regain the crown. And Tamarkuz effortlessly climbed the class ladder in the Firebreak (UAE-G3), breaking his own track record in a prep for the Godolphin Mile (UAE-G2).
In addition to the February 12 recap and feature ("Will Maftool and Mubtaahij bring their rivalry to Churchill?"), watch the riveting stretch duel between Maftool and Mubtaahij, followed by videos of "Reynaldo" and Tamarkuz respectively:
Last Thursday, Cladocera followed up her Cape Verdi victory with another smooth success in the Balanchine (UAE-G2), and Hunter's Light also made it two in a row with a convincing win over Umgiyo in the Dubai Millennium. Here's the February 19 recap.
Watch this space for the upcoming feature, including videos as well as a glance ahead to the action later this week -- Carnival cards on both Thursday and Saturday.
Vercingetorix photo credit: Andrew Watkins/Dubai Racing Club.