Wednesday 23 October 2019

'Wand' leads five-strong O'Brien contingent for Dubai World Cup riches

Trainer Aidan O’Brien. Photo: INPHO
Trainer Aidan O’Brien. Photo: INPHO

Thomas Kelly

Magic Wand leads a five-strong team into battle for Aidan O'Brien on Dubai World Cup night at Meydan.

The Ballydoyle handler is not represented in the main event but fires a twin assault at the preceding Dubai Sheema Classic - a race he won in 2013 with the hugely popular St Nicholas Abbey.

Magic Wand is the Ballydoyle first string, ahead of stablemate Hunting Horn.

The Galileo filly was an impressive winner of the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot last summer and was last seen filling the runner-up spot in the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational in America.

The likely favourite is Charlie Appleby's Old Persian, which landed the King Edward VII Stakes and the Great Voltigeur at York last season.

He will be bidding to break his duck at the highest level following a Group Two victory at Meydan three weeks ago.

O'Brien saddles recent Dundalk scorer I Can Fly in the Dubai Turf - a race in which Japanese superstar Almond Eye is the main attraction.

Sakae Kunieda's four-year-old filly is unbeaten in five starts, including top-level triumphs in the Japanese 1000 Guineas and the Japanese Oaks before beating the boys in November's Japan Cup. Other contenders include Saeed bin Suroor's Dream Castle, Appleby's Wootton and the John Gosden-trained Without Parole.

O'Brien's first runner of the night is Lost Treasure, which will be an outsider in the Al Quoz Sprint. The odds-on favourite here will be Appleby's King's Stand hero Blue Point, while Richard Fahey runs his British Champions Sprint winner Sands Of Mali.

Van Beethovan represents O'Brien in the UAE Derby, which the Ballydoyle maestro won last year with Mendelssohn.

His rivals include Jahbath - which puts his unbeaten record on an artificial surface on the line for William Haggas, and Appleby's UAE Oaks heroine Divine Image.

Outside

The only Irish-trained horse on the card outside the O'Brien quartet is David Marnane's Tato Key in the Golden Shaheen.

The Argentinian recruit has already been placed twice at Meydan this year, behind the reopposing Drafted.

The £9.5m (€11m) Dubai World Cup does not look a vintage one which means most eyes will be on Almond Eye, the Japanese filly which won the Japan Cup in a record time in November, in the Dubai Turf. She is already being talked about as potentially the first Japanese Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe winner.

Irish Independent

The Left Wing: Ireland fall short again, 2019 slump and what Andy Farrell must do as head coach

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport