Dubai Carnival 2021: the takeaway as Godolphin keep on keeping on for the latest hometown benefit

Horse Racing Naval Crown Meydan
Naval Crown (Mickael Barzalona) beats Master Of The Seas to win the Meydan Classic. Photo: Erika Rasmussen/Dubai Racing Club

By Nicholas Godfrey

All five thoroughbred contests on day six of the Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan were on turf – and, not for the first time, Godolphin ran the show and visitors struggled to get a look-in. Here’s some stuff you might like to know – plus videos and tweets.

What’s going on?

Four out of five for Godolphin

The story stayed the same with Godolphin yet again in completely dominant form, hitting four out of five in the thoroughbred races in what amounted to another hometown benefit at this year’s Dubai Carnival. A clean sweep was prevented only when Zainhom won the concluding 7f handicap – and he is owned by Sheikh Hamdan. 

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Charlie Appleby had a treble (Bright Melody, Naval Crown and Star Safari) to extend his lead in the carnival trainers’ race, where he now has 12 winners. Saeed Bin Suroor has five, which means Godolphin have won 17 of the available 35 races so far.

William Buick leads the jockeys’ race with seven winners, one more than Frankie Dettori. All but five of the 35 races at the 2021 carnival have been won by UAE-trained horses.

Naval Crown gets perfect trip in Meydan Classic

Charlie Appleby was satisfied with both his representatives in the Meydan Classic, where Naval Crown got much the better of the argument with odds-on favourite Master Of The Seas.

The winner, who got the ideal trip setting a moderate pace up front, was switching back to turf after coming third in the UAE 2,000 Guineas on dirt. Though Appleby favours cutting back in trip from this mile, he is 40-1 (from 66) with Paddy Power for the 2,000 Guineas.

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Appleby said: “Personally, I think the horse will come back in trip when we get him back to Europe and we could look at something like the G3 Jersey Stakes for him. He has plenty of speed.”

Both the first two are sons of Dubawi; they were separated by a length and three-quarters at the line.

Appleby: 2,000 Guineas hope Master Of The Seas ‘got tired’

Unseen since a two-length fourth behind Thunder Moon in the National Stakes at The Curragh, G2 winner Master Of The Seas went into the winter as a leading Guineas fancy. He is now 25-1 (from 16) with Paddy Power for the Newmarket Classic.

He was never seen with any sort of serious chance here, much too keen early before making up a bit of ground at the head of the straight and then running out of puff.

“He came to win his race and got tired up the straight,” said Appleby. “I am happy that we have got him out.”

Star Safari follows in Ghaiyyath’s footsteps

Ghaiyyath won the Dubai Millennium 12 months ago but it would take a vivid imagination to see Star Safari doing anything else to emulate his illustrious former stable companion after a straightforward success in the G3 contest.

Frankly, while the winner is a likeable type, this looked pretty thin gruel for the grade – witness Star Safari’s 11-10 SP on his Group-race debut as Godolphin went 1-2-4. Nevertheless, the winner is only 12-1 with Paddy Power for the Dubai Turf after stepping up from carnival handicap company, though it seems more likely the five-year-old won’t be seen again in Dubai this term after three quick runs.

There have been eight runnings of this 1m2f contest, and Godolphin have won seven of them. The Aga Khan’s Zarak was the odd one out in 2017. Charlie Appleby has won the last four and five of the last six.

Dubai Gold Cup for Volcanic Sky

On the other hand, one horse set for Dubai World Cup night is Volcanic Sky, who just held on from stablemate Global Heat in a 1-2-3 for Saeed Bin Suroor – and a 1-2-3-4 for Godolphin, who had 50% of the eight-runner line-up in the G3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy.

Frankie Dettori took over a half-mile out and the six-year-old got first run on his teammates before idling close home.

“We will keep the options open for him and it could be that we take him to the G2 Dubai Gold Cup,” said Bin Suroor.

Appleby hits the hundred

Having saddled his 100th winner overall in the UAE three weeks ago, Charlie Appleby hit the hundred at the carnival when Bright Melody took the 1m1f handicap under James Doyle.

Shall we talk about it?

James Doyle (Bright Melody’s jockey): “I didn’t see a whole lot of pace on paper, so I was happy for my draw to jump and head in a forward position. He didn’t start really well, so we had a little bit of a task to make up a bit of ground early on. It worked out nicely – I got a nice target, we didn’t go overly fast at all but I was in a position to move out and make an early manoeuvre in the straight, being mindful of us coming back a furlong. He is quite versatile trip-wise and has a very good attitude and it should stand him in good stead back home.”

Charlie Appleby (trainer of Naval Crown and Master Of The Seas): “We pitched Naval Crown at Group level as a two-year-old because he was showing us the right stuff, and he was twice placed in G3 company. We weren’t planning to run him in the UAE 2,000 Guineas but he was working nicely on the dirt at home and therefore we felt that we would give him a chance in that race, where he ran very solidly. Returning back to turf was always going to suit, so he came into tonight race-fit and with conditions to suit. He has gone and done it nicely.
“We were pleased with Master Of The Seas. He is very much a work in progress – he was very keen in the G1 National Stakes last year and has shown some signs of that at home. The lads have done a good job in getting him to relax.
“He is fresh and well, and he showed that this evening. William said that he will come on a bundle for that, so at least he learned something. Although he was keen for the first two furlongs, William then got him into a rhythm. He came to win his race and got tired up the straight. I am happy that we have got him out.”

Mickael Barzalona (Naval Crown’s jockey): “I rode Naval Crown last year in France when the ground was very heavy and he was still very immature. I went to the front that day and he went too fast before getting tired in the last furlong. He was fit today and I think that is the reason he won.
“We wanted to have a nice rhythm for both horses and I was getting some confidence in front – it was better to be in front than beside Mayehaab early in the race. I am sure that Charlie will be able to drop him in trip and he has done well today.”

Horse Racing Volcanic Sky Meydan
Volcanic Sky (Frankie Dettori) wins the G3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy. Photo: Erika Rasmussen/Dubai Racing Club

Saeed bin Suroor (Volcanic Sky’s trainer): “Volcanic Sky is a tough horse, who always tries really hard. He is a big, strong type, who always improves for a run. Frankie was in a nice position all the way and I thought he had a chance of winning in the last two furlongs. He finished his race really well. All three of my horses had run at the carnival already this season and were fit tonight.” 

Frankie Dettori (Volcanic Sky’s jockey): “I had to take the initiative halfway round the turn because the leader dropped away. I kicked and got first run on others. Volcanic Sky lost concentration a bit in the end but he has been running well all season and deserved a big one.
“He is very honest and wears his heart on his sleeve. He is always there to be shot at but you know he’s always going to finish in the frame or win, like he did tonight. They don’t come any more consistent than him, so well done to the team.”

Horse Racing Star Safari Meydan
Star Safari (William Buick) wins the G3 Dubai Millennium Stakes. Photo: Erika Rasmussen/Dubai Racing Club

William Buick (Star Safari’s jockey): “He is a pretty lightly raced horse and I really liked what he did tonight. It was a very straightforward win for him and he kept fighting all the way to the line. It might not be the best Group 3 around, but they are pretty well-seasoned horses and it was a good performance. He has had three runs this winter here, so I guess they might have one eye on the carnival next winter.”

Dane O’Neill (Zainhom’s jockey): “I think the key to tonight was the good even pace, although we were little bit far back and a little wide. But he started passing horses easily and that kind of got him in a good mood, and kidded him into moving forward. When I picked him up I was confident, even with a bit of ground to make up.”

Dubai Carnival 2021 thoroughbred wins

Trainers (UAE unless stated)

Charlie Appleby 12

Doug Watson 5

Saeed Bin Suroor 5

Satish Seemar 3

Charlie Hills (GB) 2

Musahab Al Mheiri 2


William Buick 7

Frankie Dettori 6

Pat Dobbs 4

James Doyle 3

Mickael Barzalona 3

Tadhg O’Shea 2

Adrie de Vries 2

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