02/14/2012 3:25PM

Dubai: Master of Hounds shortens up for Al Fahidi Fort

Barbara D. Livingston
Master of Hounds ran third in the second round of the Maktoum Challenge.

Master of Hounds is one of 13 horses entered in the Group 2, $250,000 Al Fahidi Fort Stakes on Thursday night at Meydan, a race that comes up just one week after Master of Hounds finished third in the Maktoum Challenge Round 2.

Second in the 2011 UAE Derby on Dubai World Cup night and fifth in Kentucky Derby last spring, Master of Hounds was purchased from Coolmore by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum last fall as a prospect for the 2012 Dubai World Cup. Trainer Mike de Kock has termed Master of Hounds a World Cup hopeful this winter, but his entry in the Al Fahidi Fort marks a step off the traditional local path to the race.

[MORE: Watch Dubai race replays and read pre-race analysis]

The Al Fahidi Fort is a grass race, and Master of Hounds has made both his starts this winter on Meydan’s Tapeta surface. Moreover, Master of Hounds had stretched out from a one-mile comeback race on Jan. 12 to 1 3/16 miles in his start last week, and the Al Fahidi Fort marks a step down in trip to one mile, thought to be shorter than Master of Hounds’ best distance. Christophe Soumillon retains the mount, with Kevin Shea aboard another de Kock-trained entrant, Viscount Nelson.

Post time for the Al Fahidi Fort, one of six races on the Meydan program, is 11:55 a.m. Eastern.

Earlier on the program, the classy turf miler Delegator is scheduled to race in the $150,000 Range Rover Evoque Trophy Stakes, a seven-furlong turf race.

Cirrus des Aigles to prep on synthetic

Cirrus des Aigles, who won a 2011 Cartier Award as the top older horse in Europe, is being pointed for a start on the Dubai World Cup program and will have a prep race for his major target on March 4 in France.

Winner of the Champion Stakes over So You Think last fall, Cirrus des Aigles could finish onlky fifth in his most recent start, the Dec. 11 Hong Kong Cup, but the 6-year-old gelding had been third or better in 10 previous 2011 races, all at the Group stakes level.

Trainer Corine Barande-Barbe said Cirrus des Aigles would be considered for one of three major races in Dubai: the World Cup, the Duty Free, and the Sheema Classic. The Duty Free and Sheema Classic are on turf, and Cirrus des Aigles’s prep race next month at Chantilly will come over the course’s new all-weather racing surface.