02/07/2012 5:12PM

Dubai: World Cup candidates on display

Kim Pratt
Master of Hounds rallied to be second in the Al Maktoum Challenge’s Round 1.

Two Mike de Kock-trained Dubai World Cup hopefuls, Master of Hounds and Bold Silvano, will see action on the Thursday program at Meydan, with Master of Hounds heading the field for the Group 2, $250,000 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2, and Bold Silvano returning from a year-plus layoff in the Group 3, $200,000 Firebreak Stakes.

[DUBAI RACING: Get free PPs and watch Thursday's card from Meydan live]

Master of Hounds was one of 11 entered in the second round of al Maktoum Challenge, a Tapeta race at about 1 3/16 miles. Fifth in the 2011 Kentucky Derby before going off form in the Belmont Stakes, Master of Hounds was privately purchased by Dubai connections last fall and turned over to de Kock, who regards Master of Hounds as a World Cup candidate. Making his first start since the Belmont, Master of Hounds made a favorable impression finishing second last month in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1, rallying from the back of the field in a one-mile race shorter than his best distance. That race’s winner, the de Kock-trained Musir, flattered Master of Hounds with a subsequent Meydan turf-stakes win, and Master of Hounds should be coming on in the second start of his campaign. Lead stable rider Christophe Soumillon takes over the mount from Kevin Shea.

The Al Maktoum Challenge race also includes Richard’s Kid, the one-time California handicap ace who hasn’t started since finishing 12th in the 2011 World Cup. Prince Bishop impressively won a lesser handicap race over 1 1/2 miles on Tapeta in his most recent start, but jockey Frankie Dettori leaves him to ride another Godolphin runner, Dubai Prince. Pisco Sour makes his first start for Godolphin and first against older horses, and merits consideration. A 4-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid, he won a Group 2 in France to close out his 2011 campaign and was victorious in his only previous synthetic-surface race.

Bold Silvano, meanwhile, should be favored to beat eight opponents in the Firebreak, a one-mile Tapeta race. The South African-bred Group 1 winner won the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 last winter before being sidelined by injury.

Guineas Trial top three meet again

Earlier on the card, the top three finishers from the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial – Dark Matter, Kinglet, and Rassam – meet in the Group 3, $250,000 UAE 2000 Guineas.

Dark Matter, an Australian-bred who campaigned in Singapore before wintering in Dubai, won the 2000 Guineas Trial by a head on Jan. 12 and has since squeezed in another start, beating seven older horses in a $175,000 one-mile handicap race on Jan. 26.

Kinglet and Rassam, Godolphin color-bearers both, could improve on their Guineas Trial performances. The two were making their first starts since October, whereas Dark Matter had gotten in a December start in Singapore.

◗ Joshua Tree, second in the Canadian International at Woodbine when last seen, is the name horse in the $175,000 Potlines Trophy, a 1  1/2-mile grass race.

Post time for the first Thoroughbred race Thursday at Meydan is 10:05 a.m. Eastern, while the Al Maktoum Challenge has a scheduled post of 12:30 p.m.

[DUBAI RACING: Get free PPs and watch Thursday's card from Meydan live]