01/18/2017 9:11PM

Noah From Goa to make Dubai debut in Al Fahidi Fort

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The Group 2, $250,000 Al Fahidi Fort, which marks the Dubai debut of the highly regarded South African colt Noah From Goa, headlines the Thursday card at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai.

The Al Fahidi Fort, contested over 1,400 meters (about seven furlongs) on turf, is the fifth of seven races on a card that also includes the UAE 1000 Guineas Trial for 3-year-old fillies. First post is 9:30 a.m. Eastern, while the feature goes at 12:25 p.m. Wagering and a live video feed is available at bets.drf.com.

Noah From Goa is one of 10 in the Al Fahidi Fort, a first step during the Dubai World Cup Carnival toward the Group 1 Dubai Turf over nine furlongs on the World Cup Card on March 25. Noah From Goa, a 4-year-old by Tiger Ridge, has won five of seven starts and is a Group 1 winner, but he is racing for the first time since Jan. 9, 2016, and trainer Mike de Kock warns that Noah From Goa is not yet fully fit for his best.

“Noah From Goa spent a long time traveling, and his training was interrupted by a substantial setback at Newmarket, but nothing’s come in the way since his arrival here in Dubai,” de Kock said on his website. “He’s doing well, and we’re expecting a good run short of his peak; he will improve for it.”

The de Kock-trained 9-year-old Anaerobio won this race in 2014 (Donn Handicap winner Mshawish was second) and was reported by his trainer to be training like a horse who will earn a top-three placing if he runs to his works.

Flash Fire and Championship figure to be formidable if Noah From Goah does need a start. Flash Fire, a Godolphin 5-year-old, could be the horse for the moment, having won a Meydan handicap over this distance on Jan. 5 by 2 1/2 lengths. The performance probably was a career best, but Flash Fire might well repeat it.

Championship set the pace and was narrowly run down by the promising de Kock-trained South African Light the Lights last out in the Singspiel Stakes, though he was already making his third start of the Dubai racing season and probably has little room for improvement Thursday.

In the Guineas Trial, race 2, Godolphin’s Really Special could be the one to watch. The daughter of Shamardal and the Monsun mare Rumh won her career debut Oct. 6 over the all-weather surface at Chelmsford, then scored a sharp front-running win over the Newmarket turf in the listed Montrose Fillies Stakes.

Trainer Doug Watson, always dangerous on the Meydan dirt, sends out two entrants, Spanish Moon and Mabrouka. Spanish Moon started twice in her native Russia, and her form is impossible to gauge, but Mabrouka probably has a decent chance. She made the third recorded start of her career in her Dubai debut Dec. 1, set the pace in a Meydan dirt race, and held second in a start that she might have needed. The race’s winner, Nomorerichblondes, returned to finish a decent fourth of eight against potentially useful company in a conditions race Dec. 29.