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Al Maktoum Challenge III: Kirklees to join World Cup field?
by Geir Stabell (geir.stabell@globeform.com) / Globeform (http://www.globeform.com)
Last update: 2009-03-12 17:30:49 (First published: 2009-03-04 06:47:09 )


Super Thursday: Most years, Godolphin have at least one strong contender for the Dubai World Cup (G1). Not so this year.

Of course, their dual Carnival winner My Indy is a horse with great potential, but 'the boys in blue' would hardly mind having one more in action when the gates open for the $6 million race on March 28.

Kirklees, up to now a turf performer only, might be the one. He produced one of the most impressive performances in Dubai this winter when bolting up in a good handicap on the lawn three weeks ago, and he tries dirt for the first time in the Al Maktoum Challenge III (G2).

This is an interesting experiment and if Asiatic Boy runs up to his best, Kirklees will get a real test. A test of both class and versatility.


GLOBEFORM RANKING
AL MAKTOUM CHALLENGE III (G2)

Nad Al Sheba Thursday 5 Mar 2009
2000m / 10fur DIRT / SH 3yo+ & NH 4yo+ / $300,000

Horses presented with best Globeform rating, sire, last placings
(most recent first / 0 = worse than 9th) / trainer and jockey.

A “+” after the horse indicates improvement expected.

All horses carry 126lb / 57kg

120 – ASIATIC BOY (Not For Sale) / 3231 / M de Kock / J Murtagh
118 – KIRKLEES (Jade Robbery) + / 1323 / S bin Suroor / L Dettori
114 – MUHANNAK (Chester House) / 7111 / R Beckett / P Smullen
114 – HAPPY BOY (Ski Champ) / 2076 / M bin Shafya / A Ajtebi
114 – HEARTSTEAD MAISON (Peintre Celebre) / 0517 / M Johnston / NON-RUNNER
113 – MERCHANT MARINE (Tiznow) / 4316 / D Watson / R Hills
110 – TIZ NOW TIZ THEN (Tiznow) / 2263 / S Seemar / R Mullen
106 – DYNAMIC SAINT (Sweetsouthernsaint) / 3133 / D Watson / A Garcia
105 – ART OF WAR (Kahal) / 2125 / M de Kock / K Shea
103 – VARSITY (Lomitas) / 6007 / C Swan / R Hughes
102 – GLEN NEVIS (Gulch) / 4751 / A Rashid Al Raihe / R Ffrench
101 – ARQAAM (Machiavellian) / 4461 / D Watson / F Jara
100 – LUCKY RAY (Halo Sunshine) / 3121 / D watson / D O’Donoghue
..99 – JONQUIL (Machiavellian) / 5238 / F Nass / E Ahern
…? – TEAM VICTORY (Public Purse) / 0211 / S Seemar / W Smith
…? – JET EXPRESS (Jet Master) / 6U27 / A Rashid Al Raihe

Reserves:

..90 – PEARLY KING (Kingmambo) / 5065 / M Al Muhairi / tba
..90 – BRUGES (Marju) / 0020 / A Rashid Al Raihe / tba
102 – MONTE ALTO (Danehill Dancer) / 7975 / A Rashid Al Raihe / tba
..87 – TRUST N DUSTAN (Trust N Luck) / 5367 / D Watson / tba


Asiatic Boy, by most experts seen as Mike de Kock’s leading contender for the Dubai World Cup (he also has Honour Devil), gets his final prep for the $6 million race here. He was the top three-year-old at the 2006 Carnival, when landing both the Guineas and Derby at Nad Al Sheba and, though his form was less consistent last year, he came good at the right time; running second to Curlin in the World Cup. Many will look at that result and think that he was as good that day as he had been 12 months earlier, but he was not. Asiatic Boy was beaten almost eight lengths by Curlin, and did run below his career best. At his best, he has been capable of Globeform 123, but that is some time ago.

He had to settle for third in the second leg of this year’s Al Maktoum Challenge, as Happy Boy (who reopposes) caught him to grab second late. They were both well beaten by My Indy. Asiatic Boy is likely to beat Happy Boy now. Happy Boy is a tricky horse who suddenly decided to put his best foot forward last time, and he could easily ‘bounce’ off that big run. Asiatic Boy, on the other hand, has been being steadily along by Mike de Kock, arguably the finest trainer at the Carnival, and he will have improved for the run. He is the one to beat.

Kirklees is the one who could manage to cause him trouble, provided the Godolphin runner takes to the dirt track. If Kirklees can translate his best turf form to dirt, it could be very close between these two. He was visually most impressive when slamming Hattan by 3 ¼ lengths over ten furlongs on turf on unfavourable weight terms last month, and perhaps there is more to come from this horse. Only perhaps though, as it seems that Saeed bin Suroor and his team decided to ‘hit the ground running’ this winter. Their form could well peter out one day.

Either way, Kirklees has been one of their stars in recent weeks, he was a Group 1 winner in Italy as a juvenile, and may be a top class horse about to blossom. Running him in the Maktoum Challenge III is clearly to find out whether he should go for the World Cup or stick to turf racing. As he has spent so much time in Dubai, Kirklees has probably done plenty on work on dirt. He finishes like he will stay further, but on breeding that is not at all guaranteed. Which may be why ‘the boys in blue’ are unsure about aiming him for the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1), run over 1 ½ miles on the lawn.

His dam Moyesii won over 9 furlongs in France. She is a half-sister to the G3 winning miler Bowman. The second dam, Cherokee Rose, was a high-class sprinter who, at four, won the Prix Maurice de Gheest (G1) and Haydock Sprint Cup (G1) and ran second in the Prix de l’Abbaye (G1).

Muhannak improved when winning the Breeders’ Cup Marathon over 1 ½ miles on the Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita last October (beating Church Service by a head), and he moved up the ratings ladder again when running a credtable seventh (3 ½ l. behind Doctor Dino) in the Hong Kong Vase (G1) over the same distance on turf at Sha Tin in December. He has been off since but Muhannak won easily first time out last year (albeit in lesser company) and seems like a horse who can run well fresh. He makes more appeal than Happy Boy, not least since he is more consistent, and he may also improve again this season.

Heartstead Maison produced Globeform 114 as he ran a dead heat with Tranquil Tiger in the Foundation Stakes (LR) at Goodwood last autumn. His one try on dirt – in Turkey – can be forgotten, as he was badly ridden that day. His two performances at the Carnival have both been below par, though he produced a respectable effort when fifth to Third Set two starts back. NON-RUNNER

Tiz Now Tiz Then is a likely improver who could make his presence felt. He finished well from off the pace to take third behind Macho Again and Pyro in last year’s Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) at Saratoga, and ran a race full of promise to take secind behind Dijeerr over a mile here at Nad Al Sheba last month. Tiz Now Tiz Then has never tried 1 ¼ miles, but he is bred to relish a test of stamina.

GLOBEFORM SELECTIONS

A: 6 KIRKLEES, 15 ASIATIC BOY
B: 16 MUHANNAK
C: 3 TIZ NOW TIZ THEN, 5 HAPPY BOY


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