Twice Over sets the bar
Twice Over leapt to the head of the market for the Dubai World Cup when beating a strong field in the third round of the Al Maktoum Challenge at Meydan yesterday.
Henry Cecil's six-year-old led a furlong out under Tom Queally and galloped on strongly to take the Group Two contest over 10 furlongs on the Tapeta artificial surface.
Debussy made the running but Twice Over (7/2) was always travelling well and was brought to the centre of the course to make his challenge from a wide draw. He came home two and three-quarter lengths in front of the favourite Musir, with the Marco Botti-trained Gitano Hernando only a nose away in third.
Queally said: "He's been very, very good but he was feeling good before he ran in the World Cup last year, so we weren't being over-bullish in the way we were doing things.
"He was quite impressive there and he has been impressive in the mornings. I like the way he quickened and he ran straight with his head down and did everything right."
Wigmore Hall and Poet's Voice fought out a thrilling finish to the Group Two Jebel Hatta, with Michael Bell's raider just prevailing by a neck.
Poet's Voice was the first to edge in front but Jamie Spencer was just getting going aboard 12/1 shot Wigmore Hall down the outside, while favourite Presvis was also trying to assert.
Frankie Dettori dropped his whip some way out aboard the runner-up and while he did his best with hands and heels, Wigmore Hall stole the advantage to shade it on the line.
Monterosso (10/1), trained by Mahmood Al Zarooni, was another big winner for promising young jockey Mickael Barzalona as he held stablemate Calvados Blues in the Group Two Dubai City Of Gold.
Something appeared to go amiss with Al Zarooni's other runner, the favourite Simon De Montfort, which was soon well detached from the rest of the field.
Dettori delivered Mendip with a late flourish on the outside to snatch a narrow victory in the Group Three Burj Nahaar, while Reem, the 11/10 favourite, is all set for World Cup night after winning the Listed Al Bastakiya for trainer Mike de Kock and jockey Kevin O'Shea with consummate ease.
Mick Halford's Invincible Ash fared best of the three Irish runners. The mare had finished second over five furlongs at the Dubai venue on her penultimate start, and the return to the minimum trip saw her take third.
The daughter of Invincible Spirit eventually went down to Happy Dubai by less than two lengths under Gary Carroll, having been run out of the second spot in the final 100 yards.
Tracy Collins, who won with Across The Rhine at Meydan last month, saddled Rock Jock to finish a further two lengths behind in fifth.