Arrogate is 1-3 to win the 22nd Dubai World Cup at Meydan on Saturday with its purse of US$10m (£8m) and, in doing so, become the highest prize-money winning horse in history.
On ratings Khaled Abdullah’s grey colt has 16lbs to spare over his rivals which means he would have to be seriously under-par or, as happened when California Chrome was beaten by Prince Bishop in 2015, he gets involved in an unsustainable duel early on.
But, though cautious, his jockey Mike ‘Big Money’ Smith said on the eve of the big race that he had never ridden a horse like this. “I hate saying that because I’m blessed to have ridden some good ones,” he pointed out. “I haven’t had the opportunity to ride in this race other than Royal Delta when it was run on synthetic but if you were ever coming over to ride you’d want to ride a horse like this.
“He’s still got to jump [from the gates] and run big. He’s got to do something like he did in the Pegasus which he won gearing down. If he does all that then you’ll see how special he is. But it’s a US $10m race – I take no one lightly. But if I get my job done then he has the natural ability to get his job done.”
The US $6m Longines Sheema Classic may be the smallest field but it is the deepest. Andrea Atzeni is confident about the chances of Postponed winning the race for the second year despite being beaten by Prize Money in his warm up.
Even allowing for a troubled passage he should have the beating of Prize Money and on the back of a disappointing Arc run, one could be entitled to wonder if this is a season too far. Saturday will be the acid test of that although he looked keen and ready cantering round the training track on Friday.
Jack Hobbs has looked very well out in the mornings and with a clear run, he can now fulfil the promise he showed at three after most of last year off with a cracked pelvis. Aidan O’Brien’s Highland Reel needed this race last year.
Despite Ryan Moore being on board him this looks a great opportunity for stable companion Seventh Heaven and Seamus Heffernan. The Irish and Yorkshire Oaks winner found a mile and a quarter too sharp for her at Santa Anita in the Breeders’ Cup but a mile and a half here should be ideal.
The Dubai Turf over nine furlongs has mixed results about producing superstars for the European summer ahead but Solow did go on to great things over a mile two years ago. The Aga Khan’s Zarak, the French Derby runner-up who is out of his great racemare Zarkava and was an easy winner of the Dubai Millenium Stakes over 10 furlongs, could be in the same bracket albeit over further and showed enough speed last time to suggest this race can be a stepping stone to greatness.
The local horse Ertijaal’s only defeat since February 2015 came in the Al Quoz Sprint last year. Five furlongs is his best trip and his ‘Houston, we have blast off’ jump and go style might stretch his stamina even though he holds the track record for six as well.
The ground will need to drain well for Henry Candy’s Limato to show his best. But, on the basis that Hong Kong currently boasts the best sprinters, Amazing Kids could well be the one to come home the fastest.
Vazirabad won the Dubai Gold Cup last year even with Christophe Soumillon putting up 2lbs over-weight so should go close again but was beaten in his trial. Quest For More, Sheikhzayedroad and Big Orange are so close in ability it will be which one turns up on the day.
However Heartbreak City was runner-up in the Melbourne Cup last year and a repeat of that form from Tony Martin’s Ebor winner would almost be enough here. Not many horses warm up for US$1m flat race by running in a handicap hurdle at Leopardstown but Martin has a knack with dual purpose horses.