By Nicholas Godfrey
UAE: The highest-rated horse at the Dubai World Cup Carnival returns to action on Thursday when Ghaiyyath sets off on his five-year-old campaign at Meydan.
With his eyes set firmly on the Sheema Classic on World Cup night, trainer Charlie Appleby has eschewed the attractions of a visit to Saudi Arabia next month to stay in Dubai for the Dubai Millennium Stakes (2.30pm GMT), a G3 event over 1m2f.
Always highly rated, Ghaiyyath has won five of his eight career starts, among them a stunning 14-length victory in G1 company last autumn in Germany’s top race, the Grosser Preis von Baden.
An official rating of 126 for that display put him only 2lb behind world leaders Enable, Crystal Ocean and Waldgeist in the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings.
He had also pummelled his rivals in the G2 Prix d’Harcourt but the big-striding son of Dubawi flopped on his last start in 2019, unable to dominate up front in his preferred style in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
William Buick rides Ghaiyyath on his Meydan return, in which he faces five rivals including dual Canadian International winner Desert Encounter.
“He’s the highest-rated horse in the race and we know he predominantly runs well fresh, so that’s why we are working backward from the Sheema Classic,” said Appleby, leading trainer at this year’s carnival with four winners.
“That’s why I have come a couple weeks forward, rather than the usual trial route in the (Group 2 Dubai) City of Gold (on March 7). I thought this was timing-wise better for him.
“Preparation has gone well. He looks well and he’s fresh, so we expect a good run out of him on Thursday. Again, the target is the Sheema, so he’s not fully wound up by any stretch of the imagination. He’s fit enough to come out and run. If he turns up there, he’s the class horse in the race, anyway. Whatever he does, hopefully we have the improvement there for the Sheema Classic.”