Picture: 123RF/CHRIS VAN LENNEP
Picture: 123RF/CHRIS VAN LENNEP

No question that last month’s $20m Saudi Cup has put the noses of the hosts of next Saturday’s Dubai World Cup out of joint, but there will still be a strong international challenge for the $12m race at Meydan racecourse.

In fact, a total of 117 horses from 11 countries will compete for $26.5m in stake money including six grade 1 events.

As was the case with the Saudi race, American trainers mount a strong challenge headed by trainer Michael Stidham’s raider Mystic Guide, the ruling 9-4 favourite.

It is no surprise US trainers are prepared to make the long haul because the rewards can be huge. For example, Great Scot, who earned $2m by running third in the Saudi race, banked 10 times more in less than two minutes than he did in his first 15 starts.

The Dubai World Cup is a race targeted by Godolphin every year and they have three representatives in Mystic Guide, Gifts Of Gold, trained by Saeed bin Suroor, and Magny Cours, who makes the journey from France for the country’s champion trainer Andre Fabre.

Japan also has a live candidate in the form of Chuwa Wizard, winner of the  grade 1 Champions Cup in December for trainer Ryuji Okubo.

Mystic Guide, a son of Ghostzapper, arrives in Dubai on the back of an impressive win in the recent $600,000 grade 3 Razorback Handicap. Stidham said a few days later: “He’s come out of that race well and is back in New Orleans and will have a workout here before we ship.

“I have no reason to believe he’s going to regress so we’ll see how he handles the travelling. If all goes well, we’ll get an easy breeze over the track at Meydan,” added Stidham.

The stable has been in hot form with jockey Luis Saez — Mystic Guide’s expected pilot — winning February’s grade 2 Hillsborough Stakes for Godolphin at Tampa Bay Downs. It was the ninth graded stakes race Stidham has won for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Another Godolphin-owned runner with strong each-way claims on Saturday is Magny Cours, who might be overpriced at his current odds of 12-1. The horse’s detractors point that he has never raced on dirt, but that is overridden by the fact that he is trained by French maestro Andre Fabre.

Fabre, who graduated from university with a law degree before deciding to switch to horse racing, has been champion trainer in France for 30 of the past 33 seasons. He has won Europe’s most important race, the Arc De Triomphe, eight times.

Magny Cours has not been seen in action since winning the Coral Gala Stakes at Sandown Park last July in the hands of William Buick. So Fabre has had eight months to prepare his charge for the Dubai World Cup and — provided he draws a reasonable barrier — appeals as an each-way wager at his current price.

A strong case for the first purse of $6.96m can be made for another US challenger, Jesus Team, who is trained by Jose Francisco D’angelo. His form is impressive as it includes a third in the grade 1 Preakness Stakes, second in the Breeders Cup Dirt Mile and runner-up again in the 2021 Pegasus Cup at Gulfstream Park on January 23.

DUBAI WORLD CUP BETTING

9-4 Mystic Guide

5-1 Military Law, Jesus Team

6-1 Salute The Soldier

10-1 Chuwa Wizard

12-1 Magny Cours, Hypothetrical

14-1 Sleepy Eyes Todd, Great Scot

20-1 Others

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