All eyes will be on Ghaiyyath as the star five-year-old makes his reappearance in the Dubai Millennium Stakes at Meydan on Thursday.
The son of Dubawi begins his campaign in this Group Three contest over a mile and a quarter ahead of his main early target, the Dubai Sheema Classic next month.
Ghaiyyath showed his class last season with a 14-length romp in the Grosser Preis von Baden in Germany, although his season ended in disappointing fashion in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Trainer Charlie Appleby feels the timing between races is just right and expects Ghaiyyath to be all the better for the run.
“He’s the highest-rated horse in the race and we know he predominately runs well fresh, so that’s why we are working backward from the Sheema Classic,” said Appleby.
“That’s why I have come a couple weeks forward, rather than the usual trial route in the (Group Two Dubai City of Gold on March 7). I thought this was timing-wise better for him.
“Preparation has gone well. He looks well and he’s fresh, so we expect a good run out of him on Thursday. Again, the target is the Sheema, so he’s not fully wound up by any stretch of the imagination.
“He’s fit enough to come out and run. If he turns up (victorious) there, he’s the class horse in the race, anyway. Whatever he does, hopefully we have the improvement there for the Sheema Classic.”
Appleby also runs Spotify while Godolphin have a third representative in Royal Meeting, trained by Saeed bin Suroor. David Simcock runs Desert Encounter and Mick Channon has Certain Lad.
Mythical Magic, from the Appleby yard, bids to win the Zabeel Mile for the second successive year after finishing second in the Al Fahidi Fort last month.
“Mythical Magic is doing the same sort of route as last year and then hopefully he can step forward one place and go very close there in the Zabeel Mile,” said Appleby.
“He’s come out of the Al Fahidi in good order and the step up to a mile was always going to suit him, so he was always going to be a major player and the one to beat.”
Among his rivals is stable companion Zakouski, who won over the course and distance last month following a 267-day absence.
Appleby said: “Zakouski is a horse who’s obviously won nicely in his handicap debut there and he’s definitely come forward for that run.
“He has been tried at Group company in the past in the Craven, but he’s a different individual and character now and we’ve gelded him since then.
“This is his first step back up into Group class again, but we feel he deserves to have a crack at it and he’s the younger pretender compared to Mythical Magic, who’s sort of been there and done it.”
Charlie Hills sees the Group Two Meydan Sprint as a stepping-stone to the Al Quoz Sprint for Equilateral, who was an impressive winner of the Dubai Dash four weeks ago.
“It’s always been the plan to run him in this race so that we had a chance to freshen him up,” said Hills.
“We have had a couple of very nice pieces of work with him and James Doyle came and sat on him and was very pleased. I couldn’t be happier with how he’s training and how he looks.
“He’s put his weight back on and his coat is coming through nicely, so I think he really enjoys it over there. The track also suits him, being a flat, fast course.
“If he runs well, we’ll keep training him the same way and if he goes on to the Al Quoz Sprint, I think we could still see some improvement from him.”
Fellow UK-trained speedsters Caspian Prince and Angel Alexander are among his nine rivals.
Dubai Love, trained by Saeed bin Suroor, tries to follow-up her UAE 1,000 Guineas victory in the UAE Oaks.
“Dubai Love won nicely in the UAE 1,000 Guineas and the step up in distance will suit,” said bin Suroor.
“She is in good form and I am looking forward to seeing how she gets on.”