If there is one thoroughbred contest at the Dubai World Cup meeting that sees a compelling battle between Team UAE and the visitors, it is the Group 2 Godolphin Mile (sponsored by Nakheel) that features eight locals and eight raiders over the 1600m on dirt.
This season’s leading UAE trainer Bhupat Seemar sends out three runners including last year’s winner Secret Ambition, who won for his uncle Satish, as well as G2 Al Maktoum Challenge (Round 2) runner-up Al Nefud and Listed Dubai Creek Mile victor Tuz.
“I can’t split them,” Seemar said of Secret Ambition and Al Nefud. “Secret Ambition is this old warrior and now he’s ready. He has been bucking and kicking and it’s good to see a nine-year-old do that. I think with a good ride and a good draw he’s going to run really well as he’s so tough and genuine. Al Nefud is this new kid in town who’s coming up and has a world of talent, so it’ll be like Michael Jordan and Lebron James.”
Al Nefud was originally heading for the main event, the Dubai World Cup (sponsored by Emirates Airline), but Seemar is content to wait for next year’s $12 million feature.
“We did talk about it and, with hindsight, I think it was a good decision to run in the Mile rather than the big race,” he said. “That race is so strong and I think mentally, more than anything, he might not have been ready for it. He just broke his maiden about two months ago and he’s already running on the World Cup day.”
Seven-time UAE champion trainer Doug Watson will saddle up Golden Goal and Mubakker in his search for a third Godolphin Mile, while long-standing Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor will be represented by the highly promising Storm Damage and honest Dubai Icon in his search for an 11th victory in this race.
“Storm Damage won twice over seven furlongs and showed plenty of speed,” he said. “The last time when he won, I talked to Frankie [Dettori] and he said to me, a mile is no problem for him. We’re switching to dirt because I want to try him for next year, to see if he might be able to become a Dubai World Cup horse in 2023.”
Completing the local team is Ahmed Al Shemaili’s last-start G3 Burj Nahaar winner Desert Wisdom.
While a dirt mile should be right in the wheelhouse of the American contingent, only one American trainee – Todd Pletcher’s Coal Front – has taken the Godolphin Mile since it switched from Nad Al Sheba to Meydan in 2010.
This year, it will be up to Steve Asmussen to fly the Star-Spangled Banner as he looks for a second victory at this meeting following Curlin’s success in the Dubai World Cup in 2008.
Asmussen saddles up last year’s fourth Snapper Sinclair and the mercurial Bankit, who steps out in search of his first stakes victory. While the trainer has remained stateside, Snapper Sinclair’s owner Jeff Bloom has been among those making the daily pilgrimage to Meydan for the pre-dawn works.
“He is my favourite horse,” Bloom said. “I mean how many horses can run and compete at the different distances and different surfaces that he has?
“Steve Asmussen told me he was training unbelievably well so when the invitation came, we felt we had to come here and hopefully he can work out a good trip.”
Japan is also triple-handed with the Yoshito Yahagi-trained Bathrat Lion and Daisuke Takayanagi’s Soliste Thunder joined by 2020 Saudi Derby winner Full Flat, who makes his reappearance after almost two years on the sidelines.
Last year’s Saudi Cup third Great Scot lines up for Abdullah Mishriff, having finished second to subsequent 2022 Saudi Cup hero Emblem Road at his most recent start in January, while British Listed winner Pogo will aim to land a rare UK blow in this race for trainer Charlie Hills and jockey Kieran Shoemark.
Scheduled as the second race and the first of the thoroughbred contests, the Godolphin Mile is slated to jump at 4:20pm local time.
Dubai Racing Club Press Release