Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby had the most enviable Dubai World Cup meeting of any conditioner in 2019, landing the Dubai Sheema Classic with Old Persian, Al Quoz Sprint with Blue Point and the Dubai Gold Cup with Cross Counter.
This year, he is entering the world’s richest race day with a potent arsenal of seven serious chances in the four turf races on the nine-race card.
The Newmarket handler’s top two claims of the day are arguably Ghaiyyath and Barney Roy, who run in the Dubai Sheema Classic and Dubai Turf respectively.
Ghaiyyath is the highest-rated (126) horse training in Dubai this season and enters off perhaps the most impressive performance in the world when storming to an eight and a half lengths victory over stablemate Spotify five weeks ago.
The son of Dubawi smashed the 2000m course record (2:00.33) at Meydan under an eased-up ride that day and stretches back out to the 2410m (about 12 furlongs) over which he won the Grosser Preis von Baden last September.
A winner of six of nine starts, Ghiayyath looks a real force ahead of Saturday’s race.
“He’s definitely a different individual this time around. He’s five now and I thought going into his last race he had a lot more substance about him,” said Appleby.
“Mentally, he looked in a good place and subsequently came out not losing anywhere near the weight he has in the past. He never gives himself an easy race because of his (forward) running style, so as easy as he wins with these big margins, he doesn’t help himself.
“His preparation so far has been faultless and I’m confident he’s going to be there in as good or better condition. Hopefully a bit better than we last saw him in his last start. He’s an exciting horse and always has been and we’re looking forward to it all going ahead.”
If he wins, it will give the Godolphin-Appleby-Buick team its third consecutive win in the race following the gate-to-wire win by Hawkbill in 2018 and thrilling stalk-and-pounce victory by Old Persian last year.
“Compared to Hawkbill and Old Persian, Hawkbill was a very talented three-year-old when winning the (Group 1) Eclipse (Stakes) and went into the Sheema with some solid form there,” said the 44-year-old.
“Character-wise, Hawkbill was a bit strong, himself, but on his day, he was a very talented horse. With respects to Old Persian and out of the three of them, I would have put him as the ‘C’ on bare form and what they’ve achieved in their careers and Ghaiyyath would be the ‘A’ of the three. He’s a Group winner at two, three and Group 1 winner at four and in very emphatic style. On bare form going into the Sheema, he’s the classiest of the three.”
Barney Roy has had an inspired renaissance this season, winning both the Al Rashidiya (G2) and Jebel Hatta in sensational style under William Buick.
The son of Excelebration flew past Magic Lily – herself a dual Group 2 winner during this DWC Carnival – in the latter, stamping himself as the chief threat to Japan’s Dubai Turf defending champion Almond Eye.
“Barney Roy has come out of his race very well. He’s really in tip-top order, which is good. Magic Lily is doing very well out of the Jebel Hatta and will also go in there, all being well,” he said.
Cross Counter and Ispolini will attempt to carry the Godolphin blue to a one-two finish for the second consecutive year in the Dubai Gold Cup.
Unlike his stablemate, Cross Counter has had the benefit of a run this season when off the board in the Turf Handicap in Riyadh, but must overcome his poor performance in which he seemed ideally suited.
Ispolini is unraced since a veterinarian scratch during the lead-up to the Melbourne Cup in November, a race that Cross Counter won in 2018 and finished a respectable eighth in 2019.
A two-time Meydan winner, Ispolini was last seen racing when winning the German St Leger in September.
“Cross Counter is heading to the Gold Cup again. He’s come back from Saudi well and definitely come forward for that run,” he said.
“Ispolini will go in there first up, all being well. His homework has been very good. He’s a horse we know we can get fit first up, so we have two live contenders there.
“As we stand, William will ride Cross Counter and James (Doyle) will ride Ispolini.”
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