sport

All set for a super Saturday

Dubai World Cup hopes will be on the line as Meydan hosts the Super Saturday meeting, featuring seven trials for the big night on March 29.

The feature event is the third and final round of the Al Maktoum Challenge, which is a Group One run over the same 10-furlong Tapeta course as the Dubai World Cup.

Saeed bin Suroor is responsible for two of the 14 declarations in Prince Bishop and African Story, who finished first and second respectively in the Group Two middle round of the Challenge just over four weeks ago.

Bin Suroor has won this event on three occasions with subsequent Dubai World Cup winners, fielding Dubai Millennium (2000), Street Cry (2002) and Electrocutionist (2006).

Kieren Fallon again rides Prince Bishop with William Buick replacing suspended stable jockey Silvestre de Sousa on African Story.

"Both are in good form and have come out of that race well," said Bin Suroor.

"Prince Bishop looked better than ever winning that and I was really pleased with him. He has been working well since and Kieren Fallon gets on really well with him.

"African Story needed that run a month ago and has improved a lot fitness-wise since. We think 10 furlongs is his trip now and he loves the all-weather surface.

"Hopefully both will run well but it is a good race."

Fellow Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby is saddling his first Super Saturday runners and relies on Cat O'Mountain, with the four-year-old on a retrieval mission after a lacklustre handicap run.

"He was a disappointment last time but nothing really went right for him in the race so we will put a line through it and give him a chance to prove himself," said Appleby.

"Obviously it is a big step up in class but hopefully he merits it."

The Ed Dunlop-trained Joshua Tree has his first start since finishing last in the Japan Cup back in November while Andrew Balding's Side Glance and the David Marnane-trained Elleval add further European interest.

Elleval was runner-up in last year's UAE Derby and also won his most recent outing at Meydan.

Marnane said: "It is very exciting to have runners at this meeting, especially Elleval in the big race of the night. He loves this surface and we were delighted with his win last time.

"To have a runner in the Dubai World Cup would be amazing and this is his chance to prove he merits a place in three weeks.

"We are really looking forward to it."

Satish Seemar saddles three runners in Zambucca, Surfer and Ottoman Empire, with Mike de Kock double-handed with Alexandra Palace and Sanshaawes. Stable jockey Christophe Soumillon has opted for the latter.

De Kock said: "They are both in good form but taking a big step up in grade. Hopefully they can at least be competitive in what is a good race."

The nine-furlong Jebel Hatta is the other Group One event on the card and is run over the course and distance of the Dubai Duty Free on World Cup night.

De Kock has four of the 14 runners, with Soumillon partnering Vercingetorix, a South African Group One winner and successful in a course and distance handicap on his local debut.

Stable companion Anaerobio, the mount of Pat Cosgrave, is seeking a third Meydan victory this year, while Mushreq, is another looking for a second Dubai World Cup Carnival win.

He will be ridden by Paul Hanagan with Richard Hughes aboard the trainer's fourth runner, the former Aidan O'Brien inmate Mars.

"It is great to have four horses good enough to contest this calibre of race," said De Kock.

"We think all four are capable of running well with Mushreq and Vercingetorix already course and distance winners. We were particularly pleased with Vercingetorix' s win as he did not travel well from South Africa through quarantine.

"The trip may stretch Anaerobio but he has been in good form and Mars has been improving in his work. We tried him on the all-weather but he should appreciate this return to turf.

"It is a good race, as you would expect, but hopefully all four can be competitive."

De Kock has won the race on three previous occasions.

Appleby takes the wraps off former Andre Fabre-trainer runner Vancouverite, who was a Group Two winner in France last year.

"We hope he is a genuine Dubai Duty Free contender so this is the obvious spot for him. He is in good form at home, he's not a flashy worker but has done everything we have asked of him," said Appleby.

"I am looking forward to getting him on the track."

Bin Suroor has won the race four times, including last year with subsequent Dubai Duty Free winner Sajjhaa, and he relies on Quick Wit.

The trainer said: "He was a little disappointing last time but has been working very well and we are keen to give him a crack at a good race like this. Hopefully he will run well."

Balanchine Stakes winner L'Amour De Ma Vie represents French-based Swede, Pia Brandt while British interests lie with Trade Storm, winner of last year's Group Two Zabeel Mile for David Simcock, and two Marco Botti-trained runners.

Australian Group One winner Linton makes his debut for the trainer, who also fields Edu Querido.

Mount Athos is also a newcomer for Botti in the Group Two Dubai City Of Gold after transferring from the care of Luca Cumani.

Heavy Metal, Penglai Pavilion, Battle of Marengo and Meandre also line up in the12-furlong contest over the same turf course and distance as the Dubai Sheema Classic.

Variety Club, the dual South African Horse Of The Year is the headline act in the Group Three Burj Nahaar over a mile, a race which features plenty of European interest.

Eastern Rules bids for a third Meydan win for Mick Halford, Ger Lyons fields Brendan Brackan, with Gabrial, Empire Storm, Rutland Boy and Ocean Tempest going for British-based trainers.

The Group Three Mahab Al Shimaal features last year's winner Reynaldothewizard again clashing with 2012 hero Krypton Factor, who had to settle for second last term.

Balmont Mast represents Ireland, as do Russian Soul and Jamesie while last year's Godolphin Mile winner Soft Falling Rain drops back to six furlongs.

The De Kock-trained Shea Shea goes for back-to-back wins in the Group Three Meydan Sprint, in which Eddie Lynam fields Sole Power.

Godolphin's Emirates Flyer and the Marnane-trained He's No Saint appear to be the leading players in the Listed Al Bastakiya.