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By Ikram Khan | 19 Mar 2024 |

The countdown for the showdown at the iconic Meydan racecourse for the Dubai World Cup, a global racing spectacle has begun and all the 13 likely contestants are on top of their game in their bid to land the riches in the S12 Million racing  extravaganza  sponsored by the Emirates Airlines.  

The pride and joy of Japan, Ushba Tesoro, who galloped to fame last year is back, bidding to emulate Godolphin’s Thunder Snow, solitary back-to-back winner of the mega event in (2018-19 ).  Most knowledgeable including the famed pundits across the globe are of the view that the Japanese mainhope has the required class and potential to register his second straight success in the champion event and the top English bookmakers  too have opened Ushba Tesoro,  a (9/4) firm favourite ahead of Derma Sotogake offered at (9/2).   

The favourite who produced an astounding gallop to stun the classy field last year appears in fine nick and his connections including trainer Noboru Takagi are confident that the fancied Japanese defending champion will again stand tall at the podium. Despite the fact that he lost out to Senor Buscador in a pulse-pounding finish in the Saudi Cup last month, Ushba Tesoro enjoys top billing and the Japanese contingent is bullish of his chances to scale a new high.

Another frontliner in the fray is Derma Sotogake. Winner of the UAE Derby, Derma Sotogake finished a creditable second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November, but his effort in the Saudi Cup, finishing a tame fifth behind the winner Senor Buscador and the runner-up Ushba Tesoro only indicates that he needs to make a marked  improvement to hit the top spot in the big clash.

Senor Buscador from Todd Fincher’s yard after his shock victory in the Saudi Cup appears to have improved most and taking into account that he has touched peak form and raring to go after his maiden Group I success, Senor Buscador is in the mix for the rich top international prize.

Kabirkhan is the one, who many old hats in the game reckon has the required credentials to upset the applecart of Ushba Tesoro. Twice winner on synthetic surfaces in the United States, this star performer under the care of Doug Watson has scored twice this season at Meydan including his victory in the Group I Al Maktoum challenge in January. This  is a much bigger challenge and  Kabirkhan is ready for the big battle.

Arabian Knight from Bob Baffert’s yard and Crown Pride are the two long shots who could add pep to the finish. The former, winner of a Group I at Del Mar in September is on the up and Crown Pride appears in good shape after coming up tops in the Korea Cup at Seoul, though his Saudi Cup form is not very encouraging.

So all said and done the stage is set for the big global racing spectacle and the thunders of hooves on Saturday, March 30 will provide a lyrical ring at the Meydan on the big night.