The only Group II Thoroughbred race in the UAE outside Super Thursday, and Dubai World Cup night, the Al Fahidi Fort has been dominated by the internationals in recent years. The last five renewals have all gone abroad with South Africa winning four times. The last two renewals have seen Herman Brown’s Linngari prevail and he seeks his place in the record books with a third win. Two years ago, he had won the Al Rashidiya before running in this race – the only time one of the five international winners had the advantage of a previous run that season. Mike De Kock has won with both Ipi Tombe and Yard-Arm, on their local debuts, but both his runners this year, Admiralofthefleet and Archipenko, have had a run this season. Both De Kock’s winners carried Group 1 penalties, as does Linngari this year. Ireland won it in 2004 with D’Anjou and their challenger, Lord Admiral, won the Al Rashidiya last time, as had Linngari two years ago. He was second in this in 2006 and sixth last year so would need to become the first international winner previously beaten in the race. The draw is no help as the eight winners have all been berthed in different stalls (5, 10 and 11 are yet to win) and Yard-Arm overcame the widest draw (12) in 2005. UAE debutant Danak, being five, could be the best of the local challenge and represents the same age group as Yard-Arm and Ipi Tombe who both made a winning local bow in this race. Five-year-old Royal Oath also fits the same criteria but no UK-trained runners have won this race to date. Four and five-year-olds have both won the race three times. Linngari would be the first six-year-old to win the race but has to go close, while the De Kock pair of Admiralofthefleet and Archipenko, both four-year-olds, give South Africa a strong hand in a race they have dominatedv
Full field and form summary
LINNGARI (IRE) 2002 ch h Indian Ridge – Lidakiya (Kahyasi)22 starts 10-2-1
Winner of this event for the past two years and favoured to make it a hat-trick here. Record on the turf at Nad Al Sheba is first class and returned in brilliant style on second night of the Carnival with strong performance to beat the smart Divine Jury in a 100+ handicap. Back to set weight conditions here and although has to concede a three kilogram penalty for a Group 1 success last summer, has the class to make him the one to beat.
BIG TIMER (USA) 2004 ch g Street Cry – Moonflute (The Minstrel)9 starts 3-0-1
Group 3 winner as a two-year-old in 2006 but yet to win since. His two runs at this year’s carnival have merit and he hasn’t enjoyed the best of luck in either outing. Stepping up markedly in grade here and weights against him, so place claims appear best.
DANAK (IRE) 2003 dk b/br h Pivotal – Daniysha (Doyoun)7 starts 5-0-0
Won first five races in Ireland (including a defeat of Lord Admiral at Group 3 level at Leopardstown) before suffering first defeat when fourth to Notnowcato in Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh last May. Only run since then was unplaced behind Jambalaya in the Arlington Million. Sold after that run and having first run for new trainer here. Is a horse with plenty of ability and firm surface will suit. One to keep an eye on.
LORD ADMIRAL (USA) 2001 b h El Prado – Lady Ilsley (Trempolino)39 starts 5-13-8
Second to Linngari in this two years ago and last year was placed in Zabeel Mile and Jebel Hatta. Showed he had returned better than ever with his impressive performance to defeat Gharir in the Group 3 Al Rashidiya last start. This is harder, but has shown his ability at this level in the past and will again be prominent.
WARRIORS KEY (IRE) 2004 b c Key of Luck – Warrior Wings (Indian Ridge)12 starts 2-2-3
Lightly-raced type having first run for new trainer here. Form towards end of last campaign in Ireland was only fair including third behind Latino Magic (reserve in handicap tomorrow night) and he will need to improve sharply to figure in this.
ROYAL OATH (USA) 2003 b h Kingmambo – Sherkiya (Goldneyev)11 starts 3-2-0
Brilliant winner of the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot over this distance last year and showed good form in three subsequent runs when stepped up to Group company. Certainly has the ability to be involved here, though fitness the query against many of main rivals who have had the benefit of a run.
ADMIRALOFTHEFLEET (USA) 2004 b c Danehill – Rafina (Mr Prospector)10 starts 3-1-1
Formerly trained in Ireland by Aidan O’Brien where he won Group 3 Dee Stakes at Chester as a three-year-old and the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes at Ascot at two. Purchased after fourth in Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes and sent to Dubai where he impressed on his first run here when second to Turn On The Style in 95-110 handicap over unsuitable 1200m. Better suited to this trip, bound to be fitter and must be considered.
ARCHIPENKO (USA) 2004 b c Kingmambo - Bound (Nijinsky)9 starts 2-1-0
Another formerly trained in Ireland by Aidan O’Brien where he was used as a pacemaker on a number of occasions, but did win Group 2 Derby Trial at Leopardstown over 2,000m last May. On first run for new trainer in Dubai was always well back and never a threat when 10th behind So Will I in 100+ handicap a fortnight ago. Step up in distance here will suit and while this is harder it wouldn’t surprise to see him improve sharply.
ETIHAAD (GB) 2002 b h Dubai Millennium - Elfaslah (Green Desert)5 starts 1-0-0
A half-brother to a Dubai World Cup winner in Almutawakel and by a Dubai World Cup winner in Dubai Millennium. Latest efforts require him to improve markedly to figure against these at level weights.
DARK ISLANDER (IRE) 2003 b h Singspiel – Lamanka Miss (Woodman)16 starts 4-1-2
Winner of the Grade 2 Oak Tree Derby in 2006 but hasn’t managed to be placed since. Will have benefited from his first Dubai run last start when a good fourth to the smart Sentinelese in handicap company three weeks ago under a big weight. Steps up in grade here on that performance but has the ability to cope with that and forward showing would not surprise.
QUEBEC CITIZEN (BRZ) 2003 b h Know Heights – Importanza (Basim)13 starts 1-5-0
This is far tougher than recent efforts that have seen him unplaced and others preferred.
DELUDE (IRE) 1998 ch g Be My Guest – Deceive (Machiavellian)58 starts 9-8-7Recent form consistent but in far easier company and others are preferred here at the weights.
The Big G