Drafted: It is slightly concerning that Drafted missed his intended comeback in the Listed Garhoud sprint on December 5th, but the overall wellbeing of Doug Watson’s string lends hope that the grey can improve on what he achieved last season. The son of Field Commission established himself as the best dirt sprinter trained in the UAE, and races such as the G3 Dubawi Stakes (Jan 2nd) and G3 Al Shindagha Sprint (Jan 30th) are likely to set up well for his late closing style.
Space Blues: Sprinting is likely to be the name of the game for Space Blues at the 2020 carnival. After disappointing over middle distances in the spring, Charlie Appleby cut him back to seven furlongs. This proved to be a smart move as the chestnut son of Dubawi rose rapidly through the ranks to win at listed level before going close in the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot. His last two runs came in G1s; the best of which was over six and a half furlongs in Deauville’s Prix Maurice De Gheest, where he came second, 1 length behind Advertise.
Zakouski: All the way back in November 2018 plenty of onlookers jotted the name Zakouski into their notebooks. This was after he stylishly brushed aside Roger Charlton’s Headman in a maiden at Kempton. A likeable performance on debut, but the subsequent achievements of Headman make the form all the more exciting. Zakouski re-appeared in the Craven Stakes in April but seemed to lack experience when 4th behind Skardu. He was kept under wraps for the remainder of the European season with the likely aim of exploiting his opening handicap mark of 100.
Barney Roy: A failed career in the breeding sheds has lead Barney Roy back into training. Under the guidance of Richard Hannon in 2017, he was a 3yo of the highest calibre. The son of Excelebration has shown plenty of his old zest in three runs for Charlie Appleby. An impressive Listed victory at Longchamp saw him sent of favorite for the Queen Anne at the royal meeting. He shaped there as If a mile was no longer suitable and a step up to middle distances was needed. Nine furlong races such as the Singspiel Stakes (Jan 9th) and the Jebel Hatta (Mar 7th) are races that could be right up his street.
North America: The Dubai World Cup picture at this stage is hazy at best. The Saudi Cup on Feb 29th is likely to have a detrimental on the early rounds of the Al Maktoum challenge. One horse who won’t be attracted by any overseas riches is North America and it would be no great surprise if can employ his powerful front running style to plunder Round 1 on Jan 9th. There is also a sense of unfinished business with this horse on world cup night as he travelled best in the big race last year before finishing tamely, owing to a burst blood vessel.
Art Du Val: This is one of a number of previous carnival winners likely to strike again for Charlie Appleby. A bloodless winner of the Meydan Trophy, the No Nay Never colt was given a light European campaign which included a win in a listed race at Saint-Cloud. Appleby opted to not run him again after a poor run at Goodwood in August. He will arrive in the desert as a fresh horse.
Magic Lily: Fillies’ races such as the G2 Cape Verdi (Jan 16th) and the G2 Balanchine (Feb 14th) are often weak contests and last year was no exception. Charlie Appleby won both races Poetic Charm and he is likely to repeat the dose with Magic Lily. Being by New Approach out of an oaks winner, you could say that her four race career has been a bit underwhelming. That may well be the case, but such is the dearth of serious opposition that Magic Lily is one to keep onside.
On The Warpath: In the absence of Blue Point, Charlie Appleby needs a horse to fill the void and win races such as the G2 Meydan Sprint (Feb 20th) and Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint (Mar 7th). On The Warpath won a handicap over seven furlongs at the 2019 carnival but his best performance to date came over six furlongs at Newmarket in June. He looks to be a real speed merchant and it would be no surprise if he takes the step into graded company in his stride.
Ottoman Court: The carnival 3yo programme is well established at this stage but the quality of the crop trained locally can be hit and miss. Divine Image was the star in that division last term, winning the UAE Oaks and Al Bastikiya. Ottoman Court is a tentative nomination to compete in the 2000 guineas on Feb 6th. This powerfully built son of Shamardal looks to have ability in spades and his victory at Chelmsford in November was hugely impressive.
Golden Jaguar: Trainer Ahmad Bin Harmash had a smashing 2019 carnival and Golden Jaguar featured among his four winners when landing the Meydan Classic Trial. This highly strung son of Animal Kingdom has oozed talent on all of his six runs. Blowing the start and general keenness have prevented him from improving on his 2/6 record but his latest run at Abu Dhabi suggests that he is finally ready to become a serious racehorse.
Surrounding: Mick Halford always has to be respected when travelling horses from Ireland. This 7yo mare has won six time from her last 11 starts, including four listed races and a G3. Ronan Whelan gets on well with her and she will be hard to beat wherever she runs.