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Haggas looks to Alenquer and Dubai Honour to lead Meydan challenge

William Haggas is limbering up for perhaps the most important weekend of his training career with Alenquer and Dubai Honour spearheading his Dubai World Cup team in a twin-pronged assault at the Group One $6 million Longines Sheema Classic.

The Somerville Lodge handler also has Frankel colt Mohaafeth and My Oberon pointed at the $5 million Dubai Turf and Grocer Jack facing a big step up on class in the World Cup itself at Meydan.

And not content with this formidable desert challenge, Haggas will field ante-post favourite Mujtaba in the first big race of the UK Flat season, the SBK Lincoln at Doncaster, also on Saturday. The Dubawi four-year-old was unbeaten in three 2021 starts.

Dubai Honour (right) goes for Sheema Classic gold
Dubai Honour (right) goes for Sheema Classic gold (David Davies/Jockey Club)

After arriving trackside at Meydan on Wednesday morning, Haggas summed-up his hopes for his respective candidates and said: “We’ve always strived to get a better team and I feel we’ve got our best group of horses this week.

“There are always two things that can knock you back which are complacency and disease, but we have some great people here who are all happy with the conditions facing us.

“I will give the horses a stretch tomorrow.”

Alenquer will be partnered by Tom Marquand in Dubai
Alenquer will be partnered by Tom Marquand in Dubai (Steven Paston/PA)

Of the Sheema Classic pair, he said: “Alenquer (Tom Marquand) is in good shape after winning easily at Lingfield, and I think this is the sort of race he should be running in.

“He put in a very good run in the Sandown Classic Trial last year when beating Adayar, who went on to win the Derby and the King George. He then ran another fine race when second (to Mishriff) in the Juddmonte at York.”

Dubai Honour (James Doyle) was a prolific scorer in 2021 and Haggas reflected: “Dubai Honour is very straightforward to train. He went from strength to strength last year when winning two Group Twos in France, before his good run (second) in the Champion Stakes, but this will be his first run over a mile and a half.

“I know he likes cut in the ground, but he was fourth in the Hong Kong Vase on quicker ground. My concern is that his feet are like soup plates but who knows?”

Haggas thinks Mohaafeth's issue has now been resolved
Haggas thinks Mohaafeth’s issue has now been resolved (David Davies/PA)

Of Dubai Turf duo Mohaafeth and My Oberon, the trainer observed: “I didn’t think Mohaafeth was running as well as he should have done, but we then discovered he had a compressed testicle and was a rig.

“We know that the problem has gone and it won’t bother him any more, and I suppose that is one less excuse. My personal feeling is that last run (when fourth in the Juddmonte at York) was his weakest, but he has a nice draw and he has a chance in a strong race.

“My Oberon earned his place when he won on the new track at Southwell, but has it all to do on the book.”

Assessing Oasis Dream horse Grocer Jack’s chance in the World Cup, Haggas added: “He’s hit a strong race, that is for sure. In Saudi (fifth in the Neom Turf Cup) he broke slowly from the four gate and in truth I would prefer him to have been drawn wider. I’m hopeful he will go on the dirt, but it’s a tough ask.”

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