Global Weekly Preview - 11.02.16
There is nothing like a Classic to set pulses racing, and that is the case at Meydan this Thursday night (February 11) when Godolphin have dual representation in both the Listed UAE 1,000 Guineas and G3 UAE 2,000 Guineas.
But there is also another highlight on the card - the G3 Al Shindagha Sprint, over 1,200m - in which the highly-regarded American four-year-old Marking is set to make his Dubai debut.
All this, before Saturday's hectic round of quality racing in Melbourne and Sydney, makes it a very busy period on the international scene, but also one of the most fascinating.
The famous Godolphin royal blue colours are carried by the Saeed bin Suroor duo Promising Run and Dubai Fashion in the UAE 1,000 Guineas, but both will have their work cut out to beat the Doug Watson-trained Polar River, who won both her starts by wide margins and looks a very smart filly.
In the UAE 2,000 Guineas, Saeed saddles Steady Pace, who has an edge on official ratings, but the Charlie Appleby-trained Rouleau, who ran the Dark Angel colt to a head in the UAE 2,000 Guineas Trial, is again a worthy rival, with the extra 200m arguably in his favour.
The danger to both is lightly-raced Market Rally, a minor winner at Monmouth Park in America prior to his respectable fourth to Steady Pace in the Trial when making his Dubai debut. He carries the yellow colours of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum.
The appearance of Marking in the G3 Al Shindagha Sprint has been eagerly-awaited in Godolphin ranks. Kiaran McLaughlin captured the headlines last week with a high-profile double, but even in the aftermath of Frosted's exciting win, there was glowing reference to the one lined up seven days later, namely Marking.
There is no doubt Marking's form to date is good reason to get excited. The son of Bernardini won his first two starts before finishing second to Runhappy - the exceptional winner of the G1 Breeders' Cup Sprint at Keeneland - in the G1 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita.
Marking faces nine rivals, including top-rated Reynaldothewizard, who by coincidence is one of his close relations. The pedigree shows that Marking's mother, Seventh Street (by Street Cry), is a half- sister to Reynaldothewizard (by Speightstown).
McLaughlin describes Marking as "a very talented horse," so expectations are high. Whatever the outcome, it is a good starting point for a young type with great potential.
In Australia, the arrival of the real stars on the racetrack signals the start of the Autumn Carnival.
Caulfield's G1 C F Orr Stakes, over 1,400m, features an array of G1 winners, but Godolphin's promising Bow Creek is not out of place.
Now with John O'Shea, Bow Creek finished an excellent second in the G2 Crystal Mile at Moonee Valley last October on his first start in Australia. But he disappointed in the G1 Emirates Mile two weeks later. Two recent barrier trials in Sydney will have brought him on nicely.
Turn Me Loose, by Iffraaj, was one of the discoveries of the last Spring Carnival, and he is again a significant danger in a fascinating race.
On the same Caulfield card, Godolphin's Holler is pitted against Tarzino in the G2 Autumn Stakes.
The latter is having his first outing since winning the G1 Victoria Derby in the Spring. Mahuta, an easy winner at the Gold Coast last month, and recent Moonee Valley winner Snoopy are expected to be to the fore.
Godolphin appear to be strong in the two-year-old department this season, but further evidence will be gathered when Calliope steps out in the G2 Blue Diamond Prelude (fillies) and Cohesion lines up in the G3 Blue Diamond Prelude (colts & geldings).
At Randwick, Sydney, Magic Hurricane and Hauraki run for Godolphin in the G2 Apollo Stakes, over 1,400m, but also in the field is the Chris Waller-trained Winx, who has won her last five starts, including the G1 Cox Plate at Moonee Valley in October.
Magic Hurricane has not run since winning the G1 Metropolitan at Randwick last October and will have the major staying races as his objective this time in training.