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Haggas retains full faith in Mohaafeth ahead of Dubai Turf return

William Haggas has not given up hope Mohaafeth could yet make his mark at the highest level ahead of his return to action in the Dubai Turf at Meydan on Saturday.

The son of Frankel looked every inch a top-class colt in the making when completing a hat-trick in a Listed event at Newmarket last spring.

He subsequently missed the Derby but won the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot, before he came up short in both the York Stakes and the Juddmonte International at York.

Haggas, however, believes he has discovered a viable excuse why Mohaafeth underperformed last summer.

He said: “When he was purchased, Mohaafeth was a rig – meaning they only have one descended testicle – and we didn’t think in his last races he was running as well as he possibly should have. We investigated and decided to take it out.

“My personal feeling is that in his last few races, his last furlong over a mile and a quarter was weak and it certainly looked like it could be that which was troubling him.

“He’s got a nice draw (stall five) in a very strong race, but he’s got a chance.

“He’s got a bit to find with the top-rated horses, but he’s in good form and we hope he’ll run a good race – he’s certainly got the scope to improve on his rating.”

The top two in the market for the Dubai Turf are Japanese raider Schnell Meister and John and Thady Gosden’s defending champion Lord North, who finished second in the Winter Derby at Lingfield on his comeback run four weeks ago.

Lord North winning the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2020
Lord North winning the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2020 (Edward Whitaker/PA)

Lord North is joined by stablemate Harrovian, while a strong British contingent also includes Jane Chapple-Hyam’s top-class filly Saffron Beach and David O’Meara’s admirable veteran Lord Glitters.

“He’s very well, we’ve our fingers crossed for a good run from him,” said O’Meara.

“I’m out here with him now and I’m really happy with the horse. He’s in very good form, he was second in the Lincoln in 2018 and he’s still going strong, so it’s great.”

A major American challenger is the Todd Pletcher-trained Colonel Liam, dual winner of the Pegasus World Cup Turf.

“He’s won back-to-back Pegasus Turfs and is one of the best turf horses in the US,” said Pletcher.

“Let’s see how it stacks up, but I’m very pleased with him.”

One of the big British-trained hopes on the night is Manobo, who is odds-on to successfully defend his unbeaten record for Charlie Appleby in the Dubai Gold Cup.

The Sea The Stars gelding won at Newbury, Kempton and twice in France last year – and made a successful Meydan debut in last month’s Nad Al Sheba Trophy.

Appleby said: “I’m delighted with Manobo – he’s an exciting horse

“I don’t think he’s the type of out-and-out stayer who would end up being a Gold Cup horse back in Europe, but on what we’ve seen here he was very impressive on his only start.

“He did have a weight advantage there, but he has come out of the race well and he will go off a worthy favourite.”

Irish hopes are carried by Baron Samedi, who has won seven times for Joseph O’Brien and was last seen finishing fourth in the Red Sea Turf Handicap on the Saudi Cup undercard.

“He ran very well and we think the bigger track and the longer straight at Meydan will be to his liking,” said O’Brien

“Obviously it is a very competitive race, but he is there in good nick and we are hoping he can collect some prize-money.”

Simon and Ed Crisford’s Algiers, the Charlie Hills-trained Pogo and Saeed bin Suroor’s pair Dubai Icon and Storm Damage are among those set to go to post in the Godolphin Mile.

Bin Suroor’s outsider Island Falcon is the only European-trained runner in this year’s UAE Derby, while Ismail Mohammed’s Good Effort flies the flag in the Golden Shaheen.

A consistent sprinter on the all-weather in Britain, the seven-year-old proved his ability handle a dirt surface when runner-up in Riyadh a month ago, but has plenty on his plate taking on the Americans.

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