Space Blues will try to graduate from a supporting role to centre stage at Meydan on Saturday by making the most of drop in class in the Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint.
Charlie Appleby’s runner will switch to six furlongs for the Group Three contest as he seeks to claim a first victory since taking a Listed event at Epsom last June.
In three subsequent outings, Space Blues filled the runner-up spot in the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Group One Prix Jean Prat at Deauville, along with finishing third in the Maurice de Gheest back at the French track.
Appleby said: “Dropping back to six furlongs will be the question mark, but I had been toying with the idea after Ascot.
“This has been the long game of waiting for that opportunity to do it. He goes into the weekend fresh and well, and his home work has been sharp.
“He is a solid seven-furlong horse, but hopefully as he has got a bit stronger, he will have built up a bit more speed.
“He needs to be winning something like this to justify a spot in the Al Quoz on World Cup night, but he is the class horse in the race.”
Tom Dascombe hopes Angel Alexander can rediscover the level of form that saw him capture the Ayr Gold Cup in September by making his third start at Meydan a triumphant one.
He said: “He ran a perfectly fine race first time out, though we were a little bit disappointed. We dropped him back to five just to give him another run and he actually ran a little better.
“This is his level, he has proved that, and this is more his trip, but he needs to show up.
“On ratings and form, he is up there with them. He seem fit and well – from day one of being here he has seemed spot on, but it hasn’t quite gone as we thought it would.”
Saeed bin Suroor is optimistic Desert Fire will handle the switch to a dirt surface on his Group One debut in Round Three of the Al Maktoum Challenge.
He said: “He is in good form and working well. It will be his first run on the dirt, so it will be interesting to see how he performs.
“We will give him a chance and see how he goes.”
A tilt at the UAE Derby could await Ya Hayati, according to Appleby, if the son of Dubawi can prove as effective on the dirt in the Listed Al Bastakiya.
He said: “He has got a pedigree that could be interesting on the dam’s side in that she is a dirt winner. He has won his last two starts, one on synthetic and one on turf, and this is his first switch to the dirt.
“His home work has been nice on it, but the challenging part for him is going to be the draw in 14, as we know that is not a kind draw.
“If he was lucky enough to win or run well, he could potentially be a UAE Derby horse.”