Victories for the likes of Admire Moon (Dubai Duty Free), Stay Gold and Heart’s Cry (Dubai Sheema Classic) and Utopia (Godolphin Mile) have seen the Hinomaru (Japanese flag) flown over Nad Al Sheba with pride in the past and this year it appears they could have their strongest team ever.
Matsurida Gogh, fourth in last year’s Japan Cup, is being aimed at the Dubai Sheema Classic, where he could well be joined by 2007 Melbourne Cup runner-up Pop Rock, while last year’s Dubai Duty Free fourth Vodka will return for another crack at the $5million race.
Globetrotter Casino Drive, who won in America last year before contesting the Breeders’ Cup Classic, would hold a live chance in the Godolphin Mile and could emerge as a Dubai World Cup contender.
Prep races on Super Thursday are reportedly under consideration for many of the Japanese stars who could be joined by the likes of Tascata Sorte, Black Emblem, Silent Pride, Kikuno Salire, Wonder Speed, Provinage, Suteka Shinsukekun, Tosen Captain, Swift Current, Suni, Incentive Guy, Agnes Jedi, Satono Kokudo and Earth Living who have all been allotted Carnival berths in what promises to be a very strong Japanese challenge.
Black Emblem, winner of the Group 1 Shuka Sho over 2000m on turf in October, could be their first representative this season with a tilt at the Group 3 Cape Verdi Stakes, over 1600m, under consideration by trainer Shigeyuki Kojima.
The Group 3 1777m Balanchine Stakes would then be her next planned start.
Meanwhile, handler Michihiro Ogasa is considering both the Listed UAE 1000 Guineas, over 1600m on dirt, and Oaks, over 200m further for Earth Living, an American-foaled daughter of Yonaguska who made a winning debut and was second in Group 2 company on her only subsequent start.
Super Thursday could well see the aforementioned duo Vodka and Casino Drive contest the Group 2 Jebel Hatta, the prep for the Dubai Duty Free and the Group 2 Maktoum Challenge III over the Dubai World Cup trip respectively.