Hit The Bid kicks off what trainer Darren Bunyan hopes will be a profitable campaign on the opening night of the Dubai Carnival at Meydan.
The five-year-old was narrowly beaten by the late Dubai favourite Ertijaal on his first start of last year’s Carnival and went one better in another valuable handicap at the track in February.
He did not manage to win on turf after returning to Ireland during the summer, but ran well in a Listed contest at Tipperary and the Flying Five at the Curragh before finishing down the field in the Prix de l’Abbaye at ParisLongchamp.
Hit The Bid was last seen winning the Group Three Mercury Stakes on the all-weather at Dundalk in October and is reported to be thriving ahead of his return to action in Thursday’s Longines Ladies Record Collection Handicap over five furlongs.
Bunyan said: “He’s in great shape and we’re very much looking forward to running him.
“He loved it out here (in Dubai) last year and really learned to race properly. He came out here a boy and went home a man.
“It was just unfortunate that every time we entered him up when we got him back to Ireland it rained. It was unbelievable really considering what a dry summer we had.
“I’m sure he’ll improve for the run. He’s different to most horses in that he actually puts on weight when he travels rather than loses it – a bit like myself – but at the same time I’d be expecting a good show.
“I think we’ll see the real Hit The Bid this year, that’s the impression we’re getting from him – that everything up to now has been a bonus.
“Hopefully it will be an exciting year.”
Hit The Bid’s rivals include fellow Irish challenger Freescape – trained by David Marnane – and Paul Midgley’s British raider Orvar.
There is plenty of British interest across the card, with Godolphin trainers Charlie Appleby and Saeed bin Suroor unsurprisingly well represented.
Simon Crisford is triple-handed in the UAE 1000 Guineas Trial with Ghost Queen, Starry Eyes and Turn ‘n Twirl all declared.
David Barron saddles Above The Rest in the Group Three Dubawi Stakes, while the William Haggas-trained Seniority will carry the colours of the Queen in the Longines Master Collection Moon Phase Handicap.