All eyes on Group 3 Dubai Millennium Stakes as World Cup Carnival nears end


DUBAI: With the UAE racing carnival drawing to a close, Friday’s meeting will be the last before Super Saturday – the dress rehearsal for the Dubai World Cup – on March 5.

Horses from the UK, the UAE, Bahrain, France, the US, Greece, Turkey, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden will take part in the six-race card.

The feature race will be the Group 3 Dubai Millennium Stakes in which Godolphin have been successful in all but one running since its inauguration in 2014. The stable will be fielding defending champion Star Safari, however the highest-rated horse in the race is Burgas, from Turkey.

The winner of eight of his 12 starts back home, Burgas will be using the race as a steppingstone toward the $6 million Longines Dubai Sheema Classic.

A large Turkish contingent is in the UAE, with six horses, and has so far been rewarded by Ugurtay’s fourth in the Listed Curlin Stakes. Burgas, currently at the top of his game after a four-month break, is widely regarded to be the better horse, but Ugurtay was still expected to be a threat.

Bulut Karahan, racing manager for owner and breeder Fedai Kahraman, said: “Burgas is one of the best horses in Turkey. He has had four months off though, so we are using this race to get him ready for March 26.”

A European success has been considered a possibility in the second race, the Lincoln Nautilus Handicap, when Batwan aims to extend the remarkable Dubai record of French trainer Nicolas Caullery. Based in Chantilly, the handler has had three Dubai wins from 15 runners since 2017.

Batwan won in Dubai last month but needs to repeat the feat to earn an invitation to the G1 Al Quoz Sprint on World Cup night, the dream of his owner, Oliver Lodge.

Providing a truly international flavor is El Guanche, trained in Sweden by Ricardo Ramallo, who is originally from South America. He rides the horse in the mornings without stirrups – flirting with but not breaking the rules.

El Guanche, a six-year-old chestnut with a big white face, was born in France, started his racing career in Spain, then raced in France, the UK, and Sweden before his current stint in Dubai, embodying the transnational spirit of the carnival.