Sakhee tops Dubai World Cup field

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  • The attention of racing enthusiasts turns to Dubai this weekend for the £4.5m Dubai World Cup

    As befits the best racehorse in the world, Sakhee plays the lead role on the opening night of this year’s international season in the £4.5m Dubai World Cup at Nad Al Sheba on Saturday.

    At odds of 4-9, Sakhee, brilliant winner of last year’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, is considered by many to be unbeatable. An impressive show under the floodlights of this racecourse on the edge of the Arabian desert will set the scene for another campaign of globetrotting.

    Frankie Dettori, his regular rider, was oozing confidence at Godolphin’s Al Quoz stables earlier in the week. “When Sakhee was beaten by Tiznow in the Breeders’ Cup Classic last autumn he was beaten by a champion,” he said.

    “But if Sakhee remains the same horse as he was then he will be the best in the world this year. He is stronger and will be hard to catch wherever he runs.”

    Sakhee’s long-term objective is another crack at the Breeders’ Cup Classic in Chicago in the autumn. But if all goes well on Saturday he could be heading for the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.

    There has been growing confidence all week behind Japan’s Agnes Digital, winner of the Hong Kong Cup last December, while Sakhee’s stable companion Street Cry has thrived since his recent reappearance.

    Marcus Tregoning’s Nayef, winner of the Champion Stakes at Newmarket, has been switched from the World Cup to take up the easieroption in the Dubai Sheema Classic where he meets Amanda Perrett’s Demophilos, second to Milan in the St Leger last September.

    Yorkshire trainer Richard Whitaker has spent much of the winter in the Dubai sunshine preparing his classy Captain Rio for the Dubai Golden Shaheen. Captain Rio will encounter the formidable American pair of sprinters Xtra Heat and Caller One, winner of the race 12 months ago.

    “I know the American horses are very fast,” said Leeds-based Whitaker. “But Captain Rio has taken well to the conditions out here and we are hoping for a big run.”

    Sussex Stakes winner Noverre reappears in the Dubai Duty Free and is expected to encounter strong opposition from Francois Doumen’s Jim And Tonic and Mick Channon’s Golden Silca.

  • Doncaster stages the first big handicap of the new turf season, the randombet.com Lincoln. This tricky handicap may be best left to the Barry Hills-trained Calcutta, ridden by Irish ace Johnny Murtagh.

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