March 2, 2024

Dubai Turf features duel of ‘Lords’

Lord Glitters trains for the Dubai Turf (Dubai Racing Club/Neville Hopwood)

Meydan becomes a dueling ground for British lords on Saturday, as Lord North and Lord Glitters battle in the $4 million Dubai Turf (G1) on the World Cup undercard.

Dubai Turf – Race 7 (11:30 a.m. ET)

Last seen finishing fourth when trying 1 1/2 miles in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), Lord North reverts to an about nine-furlong trip that’s in his wheelhouse. The John Gosden pupil made his first big splash in the 2019 Cambridgeshire H. at this distance, before climbing the class ladder over another furlong. Lord North sports key formlines as the reigning winner of the Prince of Wales’s (G1) at Royal Ascot, and third-placer to Ghaiyyath and Magical in the Juddmonte International (G1). His history of firing fresh bodes well.

Lord Glitters, third to Japan’s superstar Almond Eye in the 2019 Dubai Turf, advertised her form back home at Royal Ascot with a whirlwind rally in the Queen Anne (G1). That appeared to be the pinnacle of the gray gelding’s career, for he couldn’t find the winner’s circle again for more than a year.

But when trainer David O’Meara sent him to winter in Dubai, the eight-year-old Lord Glitters experienced a renaissance at the Carnival. The confirmed closer swept off a fast pace to win the Jan. 21 Singspiel (G2), ground his way into third without as helpful a set-up in the Feb. 11 Al Rashidiya (G2), and surged in time in Super Saturday’s Jebel Hatta (G1) to nip Eqtiraan and Al Suhail.

Given his sparkling record over course and distance, Lord Glitters has every right to be involved in the finish again. But only two have won both the Jebel Hatta and Dubai Turf – the queen Ipi Tombe (2003) and Godolphin’s Sajjhaa (2013).

And Lord Glitters has to deal with an improved Al Suhail, who looked like the winner in the Jebel Hatta stretch before drifting out and frittering it away. The Charlie Appleby runner needed that race, having been idle since romping in the July 9 Sir Henry Cecil at Newmarket. An unexposed type with a pair of Group 3 placings as a juvenile, and a too-ambitious tilt at the 2000 Guineas (G1) on his resume, Al Suhail could be on the verge of a breakout performance.

Godolphin has another contender in Land of Legends from the Saeed bin Suroor yard. The winner of the Jan. 21 Al Fahidi Fort (G2) in near course-record time for about seven furlongs, he wasn’t beaten far by Space Blues when fifth in the 1351 Turf Sprint on Saudi Cup Day. The step up in trip is terra incognita for the Iffraaj gelding.

Japan has been on quite a roll in this race, winning four of the last six editions. Current flagbearer Vin de Garde does not have the swagger of those past winners, since he’s been unplaced at the top level in the Yasuda Kinen (G1) and Mile Championship (G1). On the plus side, Vin de Garde is capable of a potent kick, as evidenced in last fall’s Fuji (G2) at Tokyo, and the five-year-old could still be on the upgrade.

British shipper Felix hopes to transfer his all-weather form to turf for Marco Botti. Trading decisions with the smart Bangkok earlier this year, Felix exits a closing second in the Feb. 27 Winter Derby (G3) at Lingfield.

Multiple Group 3-placed Epic Hero has some intriguing bits of European form, notably finishing ahead of Lord Glitters when they filled the minors in York’s Strensall (G3) at this trip. The Simon Crisford trainee was spotted just once in the Carnival, and his sneaky sixth in the Feb. 18 Zabeel Mile (G2) should put him just right.

Crisford stablemate Court House, typically a pace factor, held second in the Al Rashidiya but retreated to fifth in the Jebel Hatta. Fellow Jebel Hatta also-rans Zainhom (sixth) and First Contact (seventh) had run better in their prior starts, Zainhom taking the about seven-furlong Meydan Challenge H. and First Contact just missing in the Zabeel Mile. Both have class and distance questions in this spot.

Glen Force has been a force since his export to Bahrain, where he’s won three straight over further capped by the King’s Cup March 12. Trainer Fawzi Nass had the option of the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1), so it could be significant that he sends Simsir there and turns Glen Force back in trip.

Regal Reality was ruled out by fever.