03/27/2012 1:43PM

Dubai: Motion pleased with Lucky Chappy

Andrew Watkins
Lucky Chappy (right) trains with Royal Delta on Tuesday at Meydan.

Trainer Graham Motion and his family arrived in Dubai on Monday afternoon, only to find out their reservation at the Meydan Hotel had been canceled.

Perhaps the hotel clerk went ahead and canceled the reservation after reading that Animal Kingdom wouldn’t make it for the World Cup.

But Motion is here with Lucky Chappy, who is a serious contender in Saturday’s $2 million UAE Derby. Motion got his first look at Lucky Chappy on Tuesday morning and though the trainer admits his 3-year-old is “not an impressive horse to watch train,” he does like how things have gone for Lucky Chappy since his arrival in Dubai.

Accustomed to training with other horses back in the United States, Lucky Chappy has found a morning friend in Royal Delta, the champion 3-year-old filly trained by Bill Mott. Royal Delta and Lucky Chappy have galloped alongside each other the last several mornings.

Motion said his assistant, Alice Clapham, said Lucky Chappy has handled the trip to Dubai “as well, maybe better” than his trip to Golden Gate Fields, where he finished second in the El Camino Real Derby.

“I couldn’t be happier with how everything’s gone,” Motion said.

Smart Falcon faces biggest test

Smart Falcon brings a nine-race winning streak into Saturday night’s $10 million Dubai World Cup, but his connections know this will be the toughest race of his career.

“The Dubai World Cup is not an easy race, because every nice horse from all over the world comes,” trainer Ken Kozaki said Tuesday through an interpreter. “This is tougher than Japanese racing. We’re just trying.”

Last year, Japanese-based horses finished first and second in the World Cup. The horse that finished second, Transcend, is a horse that Smart Falcon defeated last November.

Kozaki said he had considered sending Smart Falcon here last year, but said the horse was knocked out from his 2010 campaign, in which he won five of seven races.

Smart Falcon is 23 for 33 overall, but has never run on a synthetic surface. On Tuesday, Smart Falcon worked five furlongs in 1:04.90, getting his final three furlongs in 36.70 seconds with his exercise rider asking him to finish through the lane.

Godolphin’s Aussie duo work sharp

Godolphin Racing entered 21 horses for the first eight races on the Dubai World Cup card. Two of their runners have come from Australia in Helmet for the UAE Derby and Sepoy for the Golden Shaheen.

On Tuesday morning, both horses blew out a sharp three furlongs over the Tapeta surface. Helmet went three furlongs in 36.20. A short time later, Sepoy went three furlongs in 35.27. Jockey Kerrin McEvoy, who rides Godolphin’s horses in Australia, was in the irons for both works.

Peter Snowden, who trains for Godolphin in Australia, thought both horses handled the surface well. Both have raced exclusively on turf in Australia.

Snowden, who is making his first appearance in the World Cup, was particularly impressed with Sepoy, who had been a little slow to get accustomed to the Tapeta since arriving here nearly three weeks ago.

“Sepoy worked quicker than I wanted him to, but he did it” well, Snowden said. “It tells me he’s in the right frame of mind and in the condition he needs to be in.”

Sepoy has won 10 of 12 career starts. His two losses have come by a total of 1 1/2 lengths.

Helmet has won 6 of 12 starts, but will be racing beyond one mile for the first time in his career.

“He hasn’t won over that trip before, but he’s very competitive up to a mile,” Snowden said. “He’s another horse who has raced at the highest level. He’s a three-time Group 1 winner and I think [1 3/16 miles] will be okay.”