Dubai Turf and Saudi Cup winner Panthalassa is among the first group of horses who have arrived in Dubai ahead of the Dubai World Cup meeting on 25 March. The Yoshito Yahagi-trained Panthalassa became the third highest earning Japanese-trained horse of all time after his victory in Riyadh, which was gained in style from the front, always holding off Country Grammer.
The latter, the reigning Dubai World Cup champion, also flew in from Saudi Arabia and will attempt to become only the second dual winner of the $12 million race. Panthalassa has been nominated for the Dubai World Cup and the Dubai Turf, with trainer Yahagi to announce a decision closer to the big day.
GRAMMER BACK IN COUNTRY
Country Grammer was joined on the short flight by the Steve Asmussen-trained Gunite, nominated for the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen. Winner of the Grade 2 Amsterdam Stakes at Saratoga last summer, the 4yo finished second to Breeders’ Cup winner Elite Power in the Riyadh Dirt Sprint on Sunday.
Third in the Riyadh Sprint was 4yo Remake who has also travelled where he will take his chance in the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen, as will Justin, who contested the dirt dash in 2021. In total, 13 Japanesetrained horses made the onward journey. They include Bathrat Leon, winner of the 2022 Group 2 Godolphin Mile, who landed the 1351 Turf Sprint in Riyadh but is now likely to switch back to dirt for a title defence.
Vin De Garde, placed in the last two editions of the Dubai Turf for trainer Hideaki Fujiwara, is also back, while Lauda Sion will attempt to better his ninth in last year’s Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint. Crown Pride, winner of the 2022 Group 2 UAE Derby, will form part of a strong Japanese challenge in the Dubai World Cup, in which he will be joined by Grade 1 February Stakes hero Café Pharoah, who finished third in the Saudi Cup.
Geoglyph, fourth in that race, is another nominated for the big race, as is Jun Light Bolt who was seventh in Saudi. The Japanese will have a strong hand in the Group 2 UAE Derby with Derma Sotogake, third in the Saudi Derby over a mile, having travelled onto Dubai, as has Continuar, who finished fifth.
The recently landed team is completed by the Hideyuki Mori-trained Echt, seventh in the Red Sea Turf Handicap, who is likely to head to the Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup. The Japanese team on the big night is expected to be bolstered by Grade 1 Arima Kinen winner Equinox, the highest rated 3yo in training of 2022, who runs in the Dubai Sheema Classic along with defending champion Shahryar, while Serifos and Do Deuce have accepted invitations to the Group 1 Dubai Turf.
Meanwhile, Japan Cup winner Vela Azul will switch to dirt for the World Cup, where he will be joined by Ushba Tesoro and T O Keynes, all of whom will fly straight from Japan. Another early arrival was Grade One winner Shirl’s Speight, trained by Roger Attfield and settled into International Stables ahead of his run in the Dubai Turf.