Abbey in good nick for huge prize pot
Aidan O'Brien's St Nicholas Abbey will attempt to land a mind-boggling £1,840,491 by winning the Sheema Classic at Meydan today – but that's only the starter ahead of the main course.
The race that follows – the Dubai World Cup – is the world's richest, worth a cool £3,680,982 to winning connections.
The whole card carries prizemoney of almost £18,000,000.
St Nicholas Abbey (7-2) – ridden by O'Brien's 19-year-old son Joseph – is said to be in great shape ahead of his crack at the big-money race.
Tipperary-based O'Brien's top-class middle-distance performer was last seen finishing a close third when defending his crown in the Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita in early November and has pleased connections since arriving in Dubai.
O'Brien's travelling head lad Pat Keating said: "Everything is fine – we couldn't be happier with all the horses."
Favourite for the Sheema Classic is exciting Japanese raider Gentildonna (13-8).
Jockey Yasunari Iwata said: "Everything is a new experience for her, including the night race in Dubai."
Favourite for the Dubai World Cup is Hunter's Light (7-2), trained in Newmarket by Saeed bin Suroor for Godolphin and ridden by Silvestre De Sousa.
• JUNIOR has been given the go-ahead to attempt to defy top weight in the Ladbrokes Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse on Monday.
The David Pipe-trained 10-year-old has been a tremendous servant, winning at both the Cheltenham Festival and Royal Ascot.
He fell in last year's John Smith's Grand National at Aintree and has been out of luck in his three starts since landing the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle in December.
"He'll go for the Irish National," said Pipe.
• SIR Peter O'Sullevan remained in hospital overnight after he suffered a nosebleed while being discharged yesterday.
The legendary 95-year-old retired BBC racing commentator was set to leave Charing Cross Hospital in London after showing marked improvement from a mild stroke on Sunday.
O'Sullevan stayed in hospital for observation, and is instead likely to be discharged today.
Mike Dillon, the PR director for Ladbrokes and a close friend of O'Sullevan, said: "He was all dressed and packed up and ready to leave hospital, but then he had a nosebleed. There is no cause for alarm, but it's always safety first."
• IMPERIAL Commander, the 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, will take his chance under top weight in the Grand National at Aintree tomorrow week.
Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies said: "It looks like he'll be running, unless it's very deep. It's exciting."