03/21/2011 11:21AM

Dubai World Cup card loses Bold Silvano, Snow Fairy

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Snow Fairy sustained a leg injury, preventing her from a start in the Dubai Sheema Classic.

Turmoil struck the run-up to Dubai World Cup Night over the weekend when two of the most highly regarded horses on the card, Bold Silvano and Snow Fairy, were withdrawn from their respective races.

Bold Silvano, second favorite behind Twice Over for the Dubai World Cup, suffered “a tweak or pulled something” according to trainer Mike de Kock, and will miss the world’s richest race. On Saturday, trainer Ed Dunlop took four-time Group 1 winner and Dubai Sheema Classic favorite Snow Fairy out of that race after the filly suffered a minor injury to her right front cannon bone.

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As a result of Bold Silvano’s defection, William Hill has made Twice Over its 2-1 World Cup favorite, making the Aidan O’Brien-trained Cape Blanco its new second favorite at 5-1. The Japanese filly Buena Vista is 8-1 with the Christophe Clement-trained Gio Ponti, fourth in last year’s World Cup, at 10-1 along with Godolphin’s Poet’s Voice and Japan’s Victoire Pisa. Team Valor’s Gitano Hernando is 12-1 with the Tim Poole-trained Fly Down at 20-1. De Kock will have a runner in the race in Golden Sword, a two-time World Cup course-and-distance winner against lesser this winter who is listed by William Hill at 12-1.

The Clement team was upbeat about Gio Ponti’s World Cup chances despite the 6-year-old not having had a prep race.

“It’s a bit ambitious, said Clement’s assistant Christophe Lorieul, “but he does run well fresh. Hopefully, his class will prevail.”

Gio Ponti galloped 10 furlongs on the Meydan Tapeta surface on Monday morning and was schooled at the gate.

Fly Down galloped the same distance on both Sunday and Monday in preparation for his first start on a synthetic surface.

“He’s never run on anything but dirt,” said exercise rider Tiffany Green, “but he seems to love this surface. He’s seems to be skipping over it, but you never know until they run on it. He’ll continue to gallop and gate school on Thursday or Friday.”

With the withdrawal of Snow Fairy, who will now be pointed at the 1 1/4-mile Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 15, the 1 1/2-mile Sheema Classic is more wide open than ever. American hopefuls Champ Pegasus and Bourbon Bay, who were separated by just a nose at the front end of the San Luis Obispo at Santa Anita on Feb. 19, have improved chances, and will have a conditioning edge over Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Dangerous Midge, Godolphin’s Group 2 Great Voltigeur winner Rewilding, and United Nations winner Chinchon, all of whom will be making their seasonal debuts on Saturday.

Eoin Harty supervised the five-furlong Meydan turf breeze of his Dubai Duty Free candidate Victor’s Cry on Monday. “He looked good to me,” the trainer said, “I let him stretch his legs and he went very easily.” Recently third in the Grade 3 Thunder Road Handicap at Santa Anita, Victor’s Cry was ridden by Irishman Tim O’Shea on Monday but will have regular rider Victor Espinoza in the saddle on race night.

But with the likes of Bankable, Presvis, Mendip, Debussy, and Wigmore Hall in the Duty Free, Victor’s Cry faces a tough task, although Harty is unfazed. “His style of running is conducive to the way they run here,” he said. “He can sprint to the line with the best of them.”

A tilt at the Kentucky Derby after a run in the UAE Derby is not out of the question for Sweet Ducky, despite the Holy Bull runner-up having been recently purchased by Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov and switched from Kelly Breen to the South African-based trainer Herman Brown.

Brown termed Sweet Ducky, a son of Pulpit, “babyish and immature” after the colt arrived in Dubai on Thursday. He said that he would prefer to rest Sweet Ducky after the UAE Derby, but that if he ran well on Saturday, “the Kentucky Derby would be a tempatation. I don’t know if that would be the right thing to do, but it will be up to the owner to decide.”

Sweet Ducky will work four furlongs on the Meydan Tapeta surface on Tuesday. His main opposition in the 1 3/16-mile event will probably come from three fillies, Godolphin’s UAE Oaks winner Khawlah, and a pair of De Kock trainees, Deem and Mahbooba.