David Marnane has high hopes for his three-strong team as he launches his 10th successive raid on the Dubai Carnival in the new year.
Alfredo Arcano, Freescape and Settle For Bay form his party in Dubai – which has been a happy hunting ground for the County Tipperary trainer since his first runner there, Dandy Boy, was successful in 2011.
Horses such as Nocturnal Affair, Elleval, Jamesie and He’s No Saint are others to have flown the flag successfully for the Marnane stable.
“This is our 10th Carnival in a row – and we had a winner with our very first runner, Dandy Boy in 2011,” he said.
“We’ve had seven or eight winners there, and they’ve all run really well.
Alfredo Arcano ran three times on the turf at Meydan last winter, but this time will be tried on the dirt surface.
Marnane added: “He’s going to do something a bit different.
“We took him there last year, and he got beat half-length on the opening night on the turf..
“We had a good horse called Tato Key last year to run on the dirt, and he did really well. He was touched off in Group races and ran on World Cup night, but the owner took him to Australia after that – so we lost him.
“This year we’re going to campaign Alfredo Arcano on the dirt. He’s going to run in the same race as Tato last year. He’s a keen, forward-going horse – which is what you want.
“He trained very well on it last year. It’s a brand new game, and we don’t know how he’ll handle racing on it, but from my experience out there I’d say he’s one of the few European horses who fit the bill for it. On his pedigree, there is optimism he will handle the dirt.
“He runs in a Group Three sprint on the opening night (January 2). Dandy Boy won off the plane after about six days – so it can be done.”
Alfredo Arcano returned from a break to win on the all-weather at Dundalk this month, as did Freescape.
Marnane said of the latter: “He won his prep, a 25,000-euro handicap, off a break – and beat some good, solid horses in a good time.
“He was third in the Meydan Classic as a three-year-old and went back last year. To be fair, he ran well but got very wide draws. Things didn’t go right for him, but he still ran well.
“He’s going out this year and looks a more furnished type of horse. He saw the mile out well the other night, and I’m excited he’s going out there because he loves the place.
“He looks a better model – so with a bit of luck, he can be very competitive out there.
“He’s only five years of age, and this is his third carnival, so that’s exciting. He will start off on the ninth (of Januray) in a mile handicap.”
Settle For Bay had no luck in two runs at Meydan in 2019, but Marnane is hoping his 2018 Royal Hunt Cup winner can return to form.
“He’s had a stop-start career since he won the Hunt Cup in 2018,” he said.
“He hadn’t run since the Hunt Cup this year until the other night.
“I wanted to get a run into him before I sent him out. He jumped out and travelled well and he quickened up and took quite a big blow. He would have needed the run – and he is notorious for that.
“He will run either on the second night (January 9) or more likely the following week. Both are mile handicaps. The first one is Freescape’s race, and the other is a higher grade one on the 16th. We’ll probably run him in that.
“With him especially, it would be good if he can get three or more runs in a row at the Carnival on his preferred ground.”