Country Grammer ahead of the 2023 Saudi Cup, in which he finished second
Defending Champion Country Grammer and Equinox, 2022’s highest rated three-year-old in the world, are the headline acts for the $30.5million Dubai World Cup card, likely fields for which have been released.
Country Grammer heads a projected field of 14 for the $12million G1 Dubai World Cup, sponsored by Emirates Airline. Bob Baffert’s charge aims to become just the second dual winner of the race but faces tough opposition from an eight-strong Japanese challenge which includes Japan Cup winner Vela Azul and Saudi Cup winner Panthalassa.
The sole European raider is the Simon and Ed Crisford-trained Algiers, impressive winner of G2 Maktoum Challenge Round 1 and 2, while Fawzi Nass’ Salute The Soldier heads the local challenge.
The $6million G1 Longines Dubai Sheema Classic has also attracted a strong international line-up, with Arima Kinen winner Equinox facing seven other Group 1 winners, including defending champion Shahryar and two from Hong Kong, Senor Toba and Russian Emperor. A three-pronged UK attack is made up of the John and Thady Gosden-trained Emily Upjohn and Neom Turf Cup winner Mostahdaf, while Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby winner Westover represents trainer Ralph Beckett.
The $5million G1 Dubai Turf (sponsored by DP World) could see history if Lord North, who won the race outright in 2021 and dead heated with Panthalassa last year, can win it for a third time. His formidable bunch of rivals include four from Japan, including Vin De Garde, twice placed in this race, and Japanese Derby winner Do Deuce.
The $2million G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen (sponsored by Nakheel) also features a defending champion in the Bhupat Seemar-trained Switzerland, who will attempt to become the third dual winner of the 1200metre dirt contest. He is up against a strong team from the US, including Peter Miller’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint second CZ Rocket and G2 Amsterdam Stakes winner Gunite, for Steve Asmussen.
An international field heads to the turf for the $1.5million G1 Al Quoz Sprint (sponsored by Azizi Developments) including Australian G3 winner The Astrologist, for Troy and Leon Corstens, and the Hong Kong-trained pair of Sight Success and Duke Wai.
There are 100 Kentucky Derby qualifying points up for grabs in the G2 UAE Derby, which Aidan O’Brien will seek to win for a fourth time with Cairo. Up against him are five for Japan, including Yoshito Yahagi’s Continuar, while Baffert sends Worcester to represent the US, along with Doug O’Neill’s Tall Boy and Ah Jeez.
The G2 Godolphin sees Yahagi’s Bathrat Leon try to follow up his devastating 2022 win, against two compatriots, Lauda Sion, trained by Takashi Saito, and Yuichi Shikato’s Win Carnelian. A strong local challenge is headed by last year’s runner-up, Desert Wisdom, and Discovery Island, winner of the G3 Burj Nahaar last time out.
The longest race of the day is the G2 Dubai Gold Cup (sponsored by Al Tayer Motors), over 3200metres on turf. It welcomes back 2021 winner Subjectivist as part of a strong UK team which also includes Ebor Handicap winner Trawlerman, while O’Brien sends G1 winner Broome from Ireland and Sisfahan travels over for German trainer Henk Grewe.
The day’s traditional curtain raiser is the Purebred Arabians’ $1million G1 Dubai Kahayla Classic (sponsored by Emaar) which will see a clash of the last two winners in First Classs and Deryan.
“We are very excited about the strength of the fields for the 2023 Dubai World Cup meeting,” commented Major General Dr Mohammed Essa Al Adhab, General Manager of Dubai Racing Club. “We have horses arriving from 12 different countries and it is especially fantastic to welcome back runners from Hong Kong and Australia after a break of a few years.
“It is also superb to see so many defending champions here to try and make history, with Country Grammer aiming to become just the second dual Dubai World Cup winner. As ever, we thank trainers and owners for their support of the meeting and wish everyone the best of luck on March 25th.”
The 2023 Dubai World Cup meeting is the first in history to be run during the Holy Month of Ramadan. First post is scheduled for 3:30pm and tickets are available from dubairacingclub.com