Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

It's Carnival Time Again in Dubai

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

It's Carnival Time Again in Dubai

Article excerpt

Byline: GRAHAM CUNNINGHAM

IT'S winter racing but not as we know it.

The Dubai International Carnival begins tomorrow with a seven-race card live on Racing UK and At The Races, providing a tempting option for punters who have grown weary of seeing old-plodders racing in front of three men and a dog at Britain's allweather tracks.

The numbers involved in a programme which peaks with the 10th running of the Dubai World Cup on 26 March make it easy to understand why trainers from all over the world have have decamped to the booming Arab emirate.

At the start of a year when British racing is facing up to [pounds sterling]10m in budget cuts, the Maktoum family have bankrolled an 11-meeting festival offering over [pounds sterling]13m in prize money and generous travel allowances.

Mick Channon, Mark Johnston, Jeremy Noseda and Clive Brittain have all seized the chance to swap the chill of Southwell for the sunshine of Nad Al Sheba, while Gerard Butler is hoping to get off to a flyer in tomorrow's feature when Jack Sullivan tackles round one of the Maktoum Challenge.

The four-year-old reached the frame in two valuable races in Dubai last spring and, according to Butler, has been trained with a return in mind.

"He's definitely a dirt horse and put up a very good performance to win at Lingfield in November," he said. "He was very unlucky to get stuck in a pocket there last time out, but I'm sure he'll do well this year."

Whether he will do well enough to beat Tropical Star in tomorrow's Group 3 contest is another matter.

The locally-trained Machiavellian gelding thrived in 2004 and ran a blinder to chase home Firebreak in the Godolphin Mile on Dubai World Cup night.

A bloodless win over six furlongs two weeks ago indicates that he has returned better than ever, and the fact that Frankie Dettori will ride him for the first time in public is another major plus. …

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