01/29/2013 4:22PM

Meydan: Godolphin has three entrants in Al Rashidiya


The winner of the $200,000 Al Rashidiya Stakes on Thursday night at Meydan in Dubai probably is part of the Godolphin operation. The question – as so often is the case at the Winter Carnival – is which Godolphin runner is the right one.

There are three in Al Rashidiya, a turf race over about 1 1/8 miles, with Sharestan and Aesop’s Fables being the principal combatants. The former has strong recent form to recommend him, the latter a Group 1 win in France earlier this year.

A winner once at 2, Aesop’s Fables was stepped up into group stakes competition early last year at 3, and handled the jump in class. He finished third to the top French mare Moonlight Cloud in June, and went on to capture the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat in July at Chantilly. After a second-place finish in a Group 2 in August, Aesop’s Fables was done for the year, emerging this winter as part of trainer Saeed bin Suroor’s string at the Al Quoz training center a couple miles from Meydan.

Kieran Fallon is named to ride Aesop’s Fables; meanwhile, Sivestre De Sousa, a jockey higher up the Godolphin pecking order, has a return call on Sharestan, who delivered a blowout victory Jan. 10 in the Al Rashidiya Trial Stakes, a race he won by four lengths. Sharestan, a 5-year-old by Shamardal who also is trained by bin Suroor, had demonstrated ability in the past, winning a pair of listed Irish stakes early last summer. His recent Meydan performance revealed a horse well suited to the local conditions, and Sharestan should be taken seriously again Thursday.

Light Heavy, another Dubai first-timer, also bears mention on the strength of a fourth-place finish behind Snow Fairy and Nathaniel in the Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes last summer. He, like Aesop’s Fables, might be more in need of a start than Sharestan.

Earlier on the card, Group 1-winning South African sprinter Shea Shea, trained by Mike de Kock, is the horse to beat in a straight-course turf-sprint handicap

World Cup has 270 nominations

Nominations were announced Tuesday for the Dubai World Cup program, with 270 horses from 23 countries passing the earliest entry phase for the $10 million Dubai World Cup. Among the World Cup nominees are defending champion Monterosso, as well as U.S.-based Royal Delta, Animal Kingdom, and Dullahan. Igugu, the star South African mare who should see racing action in coming weeks, was nominated to the World Cup and the two major World Cup Card turf races, the Duty Free and the Sheema Classic.

Early World Cup nominations are free. Paid supplemental nominations are accepted on three later dates.