03/03/2011 2:26PM

Twice Over much the best in Round 3 of Maktoum Challenge in Dubai

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Andrew Watkins
Twice Over (right) may have earned himself favoritism in the Dubai World Cup on March 26.

Twice Over moved into the Dubai World Cup catbird seat with a decisive victory in the Group 2, $300,000 Maktoum Challenge at Meydan on Thursday night. Trained by Henry Cecil for Juddmonte Farms, the 6-year-old son of Observatory rallied widest of all to defeat the Mike de Kock-trained Musir by 2 3/4 lengths with Team Valor’s Gitano Hernando third, a nose behind the runner-up. Twice Over, who had not run since Oct. 16 when winning Newmarket’s 1 1/4-mile, Group 1 Champion Stakes, was immediately installed as the general favorite by British bookmakers for the March 26 World Cup.

Only 10th in last year’s World Cup in his seasonal debut, Twice Over was much better prepared by Cecil for his first start of the season this time. Never far away, he quickened well under Tom Queally off a slow pace, clocking 2:05.44 for the 1 1/4 miles on the Tapeta surface.

The race was not without incident, however, as Etched, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin to win the Monmouth Cup in October, broke down in his first start for Godolphin’s Mahmood Al Zarooni at the halfway point after having raced in the middle of the 14-runner field. Richard’s Kid, now trained by Satish Seemar after victories for Bob Baffert in the Pacific Classic and the Goodwood Stakes, showed little in finishing unplaced.

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Wigmore Hall, best remembered in America for his second-place finish to Paddy O’Prado in the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park last August, rallied wide and late to get up on the line in the Group 2, $250,000 Jebel Hatta, a course and distance prep for the 1 1/8-mile Dubai Duty Free. Given a perfectly timed ride by Jamie Spencer, the Michael Bell-trained son of High Chaparral prevailed by a neck from Godolphin’s Queen Elizabeth II Stakes winner Poet’s Voice with the favored Presvis, who victimized himself once again by missing the break, a nose back in third.

The Group 2, $250,000 Dubai City of Gold proved to be an inconclusive prep for the $5 million Dubai Sheema Classic when the Godolphin favorite Simon de Montfort tied up halfway through the 12 furlongs after having trailed the field. With Interaction leading the way through a half-mile in 53.80, Simon de Montfort was always in trouble, even before he tailed off under Ahmad Ajtebi. Monterosso, the winner of the 1 1/2-mile, Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, rallied to lead late, defeating his Mahmoud Al Zarooni-trained Godolphin stablemate Calvados Blues by 1 1/4 lengths with Mr Brock third. Ridden by Mikel Barzalona, Monterosso was timed in a pedestrian 2:36.09.

Conveyance appeared to have the Group 3, $200,000 Mahab Al Shimaal won in his first start since finishing 17th in the Kentucky Derby, but the Indian Charlie colt was caught late by the favorite Bankable, who recorded a one-length victory under Ryan Moore while getting the six furlongs on Tapeta in 1:11.52. Making his first start for Satish Seemar, Conveyance led from the gate but could not withstand the last-to-first charge of Bankable, who had won last winter’s 1 1/8-mile, Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort on turf. The first two will meet again in the Dubai Golden Shaheen on World Cup Night.

Mendip had to work much harder than expected to land the Group 3, $200,000 Burj Nahar, the local prep for the Godolphin Mile. Well placed by Frankie Dettori in fifth, the odds-on choice, a 4-year-old son of Harlan’s Holiday, struggled in finally managing to lead in the shadow of the wire, defeating the unheralded Zafeen Speed by just a neck with As de Trebol a half-length farther back in third. Having run the Tapeta mile in 1:36.77 while carrying the colors of Sheikh Mohammed’s son Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Mendip was following up on a much easier 2 1/4-length victory going a mile in Round 1 of the Grade 3 Maktoum Challenge.

Reem was the easiest of winners in the listed $250,000 Al Bastakiya. The 3-year-old Southern Hemisphere filly slammed a field of modest colts as she drew clear in the UAE Derby trial for a 5 1/4-length cakewalk over Godolphin’s Ahlaain, getting the 1 3/16 miles in a tepid 1:59.90. The Mike de Kock-trained daughter of Galileo was coming off second-place finishes to stablemates River Jetez and Mahbooba in the Group 2 Balanchine Stakes and the listed UAE 1000 Guineas, and is clearly improving as the distances grow longer.