Royal Marine | Scoop Dyga

Royal Marine (Ire) (Raven’s Pass), winner of last year’s G1 Jean-Luc Lagardere, makes his 3-year-old debut and tries dirt for the first time in a one-mile conditions race at Meydan on Thursday that is a trial for the G3 UAE 2000 Guineas. The Saeed bin Suroor-trained Godolphin colourbearer broke his maiden going seven furlongs at Doncaster last September before taking France’s premier juvenile race over this trip. Oisin Murphy was aboard on both of those occasions, but Christophe Soumillon takes the reins on Thursday.

If Royal Marine transfers his talents to the dirt he will be tough to beat, but there are a few other lightly raced colts with last-out wins that could threaten. The Phoenix Ladies Syndicate’s Walking Thunder (Violence) is unbeaten in two tries over this course, the most recent a 4 1/2-length score going this trip on Dec. 6. Giant Hero (Giant’s Causeway) has run just once, back in July, but that was a four-length victory going five furlongs for trainer Steve Asmussen at Ellis Park. Al Seel Legacy’s (Uncaptured) was a debut winner over 1400 metres at Meydan on Dec. 20 for trainer Doug Watson.

While all of the aforementioned are looking to earn the crown as the UAE’s best 3-year-old, one who was in that position last year, Godolphin’s Gold Town (GB) (Street Cry {Ire}), returns from defeat by Mendelssohn (Scat Daddy) when fourth in the G2 UAE Derby in the G2 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 over a mile. Prior to that, he had romped in both the UAE 2000 Guineas and its trial. Heavy Metal (GB) (Exceed and Excel {Aus}) won this last year and closed out the season with a victory in the G2 Godolphin Mile over Muntazah (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}). North America (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) placed last year in this race and Round 2 before winning the G1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3, but he’ll have to bounce back from a heavy defeat in the G1 Dubai World Cup when last seen. Kimbear (Temple City) was also well beaten on World Cup night when sixth in the Godolphin Mile, but he has a win over this track and trip in last season’s G3 Burj Nahaar and could have a fitness advantage over some of these, having been third in a listed race at Meydan on Dec. 12.

Earlier on the card, Simon Crisford’s G3 Prix Eclipse winner Sporting Chance (GB) (Kodiac {GB}) makes his seasonal debut in a 1400 metre turf conditions race. In the evening’s final race, a mile turf handicap, Joseph O’Brien sends out his first Dubai runners, King’s Field (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}) and Equitant (GB) (Equiano {GB}), who were 1-2 last out in a 1600 metre Dundalk handicap on Dec. 7.

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