Bunyan hoping his stable star can be a 'Hit' in Dubai sprint
Darren Bunyan's Hit The Bid and Freescape from the David Marnane yard carry the Irish hopes on the opening night of the Dubai Carnival at Meydan.
The former was narrowly beaten by the late Dubai favourite Ertijaal on his first start of last year's Carnival and went one better in another valuable handicap at the track in February.
The five-year-old did not manage to win on turf after returning home during the summer, but ran well in a Listed contest at Tipperary and the Flying Five at the Curragh before finishing down the field in the Prix de l'Abbaye at Longchamp.
Hit The Bid was last seen winning the Group Three Mercury Stakes on the all-weather at Dundalk in October and is reported to be thriving ahead of his return in the Longines Ladies Record Collection Handicap over five furlongs.
"He's in great shape and we're very much looking forward to running him," Bunyan said. "He loved it out here (in Dubai) last year and really learned to race properly. He came out here a boy and went home a man."
Apart from Marnane's Feescape, Hit The Bid's rivals include Paul Midgley's British raider Orvar in what is a competitive sprint.
There is plenty of English interest across the card, with Godolphin trainers Charlie Appleby and Saeed bin Suroor well represented. Simon Crisford is triple-handed in the UAE 1,000 Guineas Trial with Ghost Queen, Starry Eyes and Turn 'n Twirl.
Elsewhere, Gordon Elliott enjoyed a successful raid on Ayr yesterday when his Whoshotthesheriff landed the novice hurdle in the hands of Sean Quinlan, the 6/1 shot seeing off Dali Mail by two and a half lengths with 2/5 hotpot Sebastopol a half-length back in third.
‘Rocky’ on road to Leopardstown again
Rocky Blue is likely to return to Leopardstown next month following his high-profile victory at the track over the festive period, according to trainer Tom Mullins.
Having finished second on his hurdling debut at Punchestown, the four-year-old went one better when causing a minor upset in the Grade Two Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle, albeit profiting from the final-flight fall of Coeur Sublime.
“We were thrilled with him. The other horse falling obviously helped us, but our horse did it well,” said Mullins. “The Spring Juvenile Hurdle in Leopardstown is his big target and I’d say he’ll go straight there.
“He was getting the hang of things on the Flat – he won by eight lengths on his last run. The owner was keen to go hurdling so we said we’d stop on the Flat for now, but he could go back at some stage.”