Aidan O’Brien has saddled the winner of the UAE Derby in each of the last two runnings and is responsible for two of the 12 entries this year.
With the trainer’s son Joseph unable to ride at 55 kilograms, Ryan Moore comes in on Giovanni Boldini, making him the stable’s first choice on the face of it. Moore rode 2013 UAE Derby winner Lines Of Battle, who went on to compete in the Kentucky Derby.
Giovanni Boldini, a West Virginia-bred, has a listed stakes win on the all-weather surface at Dundalk, and he was runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf when last seen in November.
Colm O’Donoghue, who won the 2012 UAE Derby on O’Brien’s Daddy Long Legs -- who also competed in the Kentucky Derby -- is aboard O'Brien’s second runner, Sir John Hawkins, bred in Kentucky.
Prior to O’Brien’s recent success, this race was dominated by Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor and South African Mike De Kock with seven and five winners respectively.
On Saturday, De Kock has Jallota (GB), and Bin Suroor saddles Paximadia (AUS) and Emirates Flyer (GB) -- but all three look to have something to prove in this field.
Godolphin’s second trainer, Charlie Appleby, saddles his exciting UAE 2000 Guineas hero Long John (AUS), winner of last year’s Group 1 Caulfield Guineas for his previous trainer, Peter Snowden. Should he or any of the other Southern Hemisphere-bred starters win or hit the board, the corresponding Kentucky Derby points will not be redeemed. They are 4-year-olds under North American rules.
Long John (pictured above) was impressive in the UAE 2000 Guineas.
“As I keep saying, Long John shows next to nothing at home, but we had been forewarned that was the case,." Appleby said. "It was a big win in the UAE 2000 Guineas, but that was 1600 meters and we have another 300 meters on Saturday in better company. I think he will stay and he is in great nick coming into the race.
“We also have Safety Check in the field and the trip should certainly suit him.”
Long John is not the only group winner from the Southern Hemisphere in the field . Doug Watson brings Cooptado (ARG) to the UAE. He is a group 1 winner in his native Argentina and is well berthed in stall three.
“He is a nice new recruit and seems to handle the all-weather after a couple of good gallops on it. He is fit and well,” Watson said.
Asmar (IRE), representing Bahraini owner/trainer Fawzi Nass, made his debut in January and, having finished fifth behind Long John in the UAE 2000 Guineas, shed his maiden tag in the Al Bastakiya. He made virtually all the running at the track going the UAE Derby distance.
“He was always going to be better the further he went, and this was the obvious target after Super Saturday," Nass said. “It is a better race, but he is in good form.”
The two challengers from the UK are interesting, with Jamie Osborne saddling Toast Of New York, the Kentucky-bred winner of his two most recent starts by a combined margin of 28 lengths. This is a big step up in class, but both those wins were on Polytrack at Wolverhampton, offering every hope the Meydan Racecourse all-weather surface will suit him.
Meanwhile, Sir Jack Layden, trained by David Brown, was third in the Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket when he was last seen in September.
Edited Dubai Racing Club release with additional content by Dick Downey