The Dubai Gold Cup (sponsored by Al Tayer) may be the most recent addition to the Dubai World Cup card, joining the programme in 2012, but this year it has attracted one of the most exciting horses in its short history in the undefeated Manobo.
Charlie Appleby’s four-year-old is five from five and warmed up for this assignment with a facile win in the G3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy over 2800 metres last month.
“Manobo is an unbeaten son of Sea The Stars and we were all delighted with his first run here in Dubai, it couldn’t have gone better,” said Appleby, who won this race in 2019 with Melbourne Cup winner Cross Counter. “I don’t think he’s a dour stayer; in fact, I toyed with running him in the Dubai City Of Gold at 2400 metres and maybe in time we’ll come back in distance with him.
“He’s got a decent field of stayers to beat and no race on World Cup night is easy, but I think he’s the one they all have to beat.”
Manobo’s chief rival on official ratings is Japan’s Stay Foolish, who at 117 is four pounds higher than Appleby’s ace. The Yoshito Yahagi representative took the G3 Red Sea Turf Handicap (3000m) in Saudi from the front four weeks ago, defeating Group 1 winner Sonnyboyliston, and could make this a tough test of stamina if taking up front-running duties again in the hands of Christophe Lemaire.
Fawzi Nass has enjoyed an excellent season in Dubai and he runs new recruit Emperor Of The Sun, formally trained by Donnacha O’Brien in Ireland where he won a Listed race at Leopardstown. Unraced since finishing 10th in the 2000-metre Bahrain International Trophy in November, this will be just his second start for Nass.
“He came in November after a hard campaign in Ireland,” said the trainer. “The only race we could run in was the International Trophy, which was probably half the distance he wants. There was nothing else for him, rated 110, so he had to wait. That might have been a blessing in disguise as he now looks much better than he did when he arrived.”
The O’Brien family is still represented by Baron Samedi, prepared by Donnacha’s brother Joseph, who is coming off a fourth to Stay Foolish in Saudi Arabia.
The local challenge includes rapid improver Castlebar, trained by Helal Alalawi, who earned his berth after a third to Royal Fleet in the G3 Dubai Millennium Stakes at 2000 metres. This will be his first try over a distance greater than that, but jockey Bernardo Pinheiro is optimistic.
“Castlebar ran a very nice race with me last time, I was so happy with that,” he said. “He’s an improving horse and I think he will be finishing the race well. I’m so excited to get the ride on him.”
The G2 Dubai Gold Cup takes place as race three, at 4;55pm UAE time.
Dubai Racing Club Press Release