02/20/2007 1:00AM

Linngari defending in Dubai


Linngari defends his Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort title at Nad Al Sheba on Thursday night in the third of four local preps for the $5 million Dubai Duty Free on March 31.

The $250,000 turf mile has also attracted last year's runner-up, Lord Admiral, but while Linngari has since won the six-furlong Group 2 Goldene Peitsche at Baden-Baden and finished second in the seven-furlong Group 1 Prix de la Foret at Longchamp, there are two other European invaders with chances equal to his.

Killybegs, who was second to the Foret winner Caradak in the Group 2 Celebration Mile at Goodwood last August, was also a sharp second in Newmarket's seven-furlong Group 2 Challenge Stakes, a race won by Sleeping Indian, who was subsequently a luckless fourth in the Breeders' Cup Mile. Since purchased by Godolphin, the 4-year-old Killybegs will open his 2007 campaign with Frankie Dettori aboard, but he must beware of Court Masterpiece.

The winner of the one-mile Group 1 Sussex Stakes, Court Masterpiece will be making his first start for Ismail Mohammed. He is, however, unplaced in his only four tries outside of England in Japan, Hong Kong and Dubai, where he was sixth in last year's Godolphin Mile on dirt.

The wild card in the Al Fahidi Fort is Kapil. The winner of the Group 2 KZN Guineas at Greyville, Kapil is 6 for 8 lifetime in his native South Africa and is trained by the masterly Mike de Kock. He must, however, overcome an 8 1/2-month layoff.

The 9-year-old Nayyir, third in last year's Duty Free, is always a threat to crack the first three.