What to look out for on day one of the Dubai Carnival

Emotionless: bidding to get career back on track on Meydan's dirt

PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos) What to look for on
day one of the Carnival
By Mark Scully 7:07PM 4 JAN 2017

THURSDAY marks the beginning of the Dubai World Cup Carnival. Some of the biggest and best names from the world of Flat racing will clash at Meydan in the coming weeks and with plenty of clues for our own Flat summer on offer too, it is not to be missed.

Emotionless is back

It is fair to say things did not go to plan for Emotionless last year. Second only to Air Force Blue in the betting for the 2,000 Guineas at the start of the spring, he missed the Classic and ran only twice – failing to land a blow in either the St James's Palace Stakes or the Thoroughbred Stakes.

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This is a new year though and trainer Charlie Appleby will be hoping to consign the son of Shamardal's annus horribilis to the history books, starting with the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge R1 over 1m on the dirt.

"Last year was a bit disappointing but if he can bounce back to his juvenile form he must have a good chance," said Appleby.

"He has loved it since he arrived in Dubai about two months ago and seems in great form. His pedigree offers every hope he'll go on dirt, and he's working very well on it at home."

Appleby himself will be able to continue the fine form his runners displayed in Australia late last year as he builds towards the European summer.

With plenty of Godolphin horses to have wintered in Dubai running so well in the spring in Britain last year, it could pay to keep a close eye on his and Saeed bin Suroor's charges.

Crowley goes to work

He may have had a couple of rides in the famous Sheikh Hamdan silks in Britain since starting his new job as the owner's retained rider, but Jim Crowley may feel the real work starts now.

The champion jockey has his first major ride in his new gig, partnering the former Sir Michael Stoute runner Munaaser in the Group 2 feature, now trained by Ali Al Rayhi – who sent out a 7,019-1 four-timer on this card last year.

Jim Crowley, Champion Jockey

Jim Crowley: became champion jockey for the first time in 2016

PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)

Munaaser won first-up last January, albeit in a lower grade than this but in a race not screaming out with quality, Crowley will be keen to get himself off to a flying start.

The gelding is one of five rides on the card for Crowley, which include two on horses that confusingly have the same name. In the Listed Singspiel Stakes on the turf he rides the Mike De Kock-trained Ertijaal who has been off the track since last April but ran a good fourth in the Dubai Turf on World Cup night last year.

Earlier on the card, he rides the Ali Al Rayhi-trained Ertijaal (this one is Irish-bred while the other hails from Australia). The best tip? Check your bets.

India ready to strike

Back in 2007, Mystical made the trip from India to Dubai with a huge reputation and delivered a pair of victories at Nad Al Sheba before failing to hit the heights in the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free.

A decade later and Indian hopes are high once again that Desert God could be ready to deliver more success.

Desert God has won each of his last nine starts and 12 out of 18 in total, including the Indian Derby and a pair of St Legers.

"It's very exciting to be here with a very good horse who seems to have settled in well," said trainer Sadakshara Ruben Padmanabhan.

"He's shown at home he's versatile as he has won at all the main tracks and always travels between venues well. Were happy with him and looking forward to him running."

The five-year-old lines up in the opening 1m4f handicap on the turf.

Veterans back for more

For those keen followers of Dubai action, there will be plenty of familiar names lining up once again. Le Benardin has four Meydan wins to his name since 2014, including in last year's Al Maktoum Challenge R1, in which he lines up again on Thursday.

Sir Maximilian Chester 7.5.14

Sir Maximilian: has won at Meydan in each of the last two years

PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)

Mike De Kock's Sanshaawes, set to contest the Singspiel Stakes, is another who has been frequenting Meydan since 2014 and has three wins to his name, while in the same race Maftool also has a couple of Meydan wins on his CV from the last two years.

Trainer Ian Williams also has the veteran sprinter Sir Maximilian back again to kick off in the 5f handicap on the turf.

Now an eight-year-old, Sir Maximilian blew away the cobwebs with a couple of runs at Lingfield and Chelmsford last month and has won at Meydan in each of the last two years, including in a Group 3 contest in 2015.

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