Dubai Mile Put Through His Paces Over The Rowley Mile

Group 1 winner Dubai Mile (Ire) (Roaring Lion) galloped over the Rowley Mile in Newmarket on Wednesday. The Ahmad Al Shaikh silksbearer is being primed for a possible start in the G1 QIPCO 2000 Guineas over this course on May 6.

Trained by Charlie Johnston, the 3-year-old was originally pencilled in for the G2 Al Basti Equiworld Dante S. at York in mid-May, but connections are weighing the G1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud hero’s chances in the run-up to the G1 Betfred Derby on June 3.

“We’ve been having a debate internally all spring really regarding what is the best route for this horse,” said Johnston. “We’re pretty confident his optimum trip this year will be a mile and a half plus and you can see in his work there that he’s not travelling hard on the bridle behind the other horse. He’s a very laid-back horse who is behind the bridle and his last furlong is his best furlong.

“But, having won a Group 1 as a 2-year-old, your route to the Derby is narrowed down quite dramatically. You either have to have to step down in grade or you have to go to the Guineas. From an early point it’s been either Guineas-Derby or Dante-Derby. The way they’re in the calendar this year running in all three is pretty unrealistic.

“I’ve spent most of the spring leaning on the side that he should be going Dante-Derby, but Ahmad is always keen to take on a challenge and take the ambitious route–and when you’ve got a Group 1-winning 2-year-old, the reality is winning the Dante is not going to add anything to this horse’s stallion profile, whereas finishing third in the Guineas would be a big asset to him.”

The chestnut won at second asking over a mile at Windsor last August and added an all-weather mile contest at Kempton later that month. Second over the Guineas course and distance in the G2 Royal Lodge S. in September behind Thursday’s G3 bet365 Craven S. entry The Foxes (Ire) (Churchill {Ire}), the son of Beach Bunny (Ire) (High Chaparral {Ire}) thrived in the heavy going at Saint-Cloud in his top-level score a month later.

Johnston added, “We’re all well aware that this horse is being trained and going to be campaigned as a top-class mile-and-a-half horse, it’s just what we do in the early season to get him there.

“I’d love a soft ground Guineas, then he really would be a player because we know he handles testing conditions, and one asset you can never take for granted here is he’s run over the course and distance. Danny says you don’t even notice the dip on him, he just floats down it and out the other side. The Guineas is not a race you go into as a prep race, but if he was running in many ways it would be a prep race for the Derby.”

Also taking a spin over the course on Wednesday was the Charlie Hills-trained two-for-two Circero’s Gift (GB) (Muhaarar {GB}) with Kieran Shoemark at the controls. The Rosehill Racing-owned colt worked in company with stablemate Saratoga Gold (GB) (Mayson {GB}) under Michael Hills, however, his participation in the Newmarket Classic is not definite. He won both his Newbury debut last autumn, and a Wolverhampton all-weather affair on Mar. 30.

“He worked well and had a nice little blow afterwards as well actually, so it was just what we wanted I think,” said Hills. “He’s obviously had two starts and two wins and we’re just trying to feel our way really and see exactly where we are and find out a bit more about him. Today he behaved great, had a nice bit of work and did what we asked him.

“We didn’t really want to run in a trial and put three quick races into him. It’s going to be a long season, so we’ll just try to keep him as fresh as we can.

“We’ll see how the week unfolds with the trials and make a decision next week. There is a conditions race at Goodwood around the same weekend as the Guineas, so that could be another route to take, but I’m pretty open-minded at the moment.

“He’s a nice horse and there’s only one Guineas, isn’t there? If we decide against it you’ve got Goodwood and the Dante at York and the [G3] Hampton Court [S.] at Royal Ascot, something like that. I think I could see him stepping him up in trip later in the year.”

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