Storm Belt can headline another massive world-wide weekend for More Than Ready in Dubai on Saturday night.
The Vinery champion is more than capable of siring stakes winners in Dubai, Australia, South Africa and North America.
Storm Belt (6h More Than Ready – Mari´s Thunder by Thunder Gulch) is striking Group 1 company for the first time in the Al Maktoum Challenge (2000m) at Meydan. He earned the chance to take on last year’s Dubai World Cup winner African Stormy with a very impressive last-start victory albeit in a handicap.
“He won his first two outings for us at Sharjah,” trainer Doug Watson said after his most recent win in record time on February 19. “We have always held him in the highest regard.”
Storm Belt is owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum and is from a half-sister to Group 1 racehorse and sire Congaree.
More Than Ready’s Australia-bred colt Banaadeer continues his Gulf campaign in the G3 Meydan Sprint (1000m). He failed first-up away from home but improved noticeably when placed behind hard-knocker Caspian Prince last time out.
Banaadeer (4c More Than Ready – Provence by Redoute’s Choice) was purchased by Sheikh Hamdan for $700,000 at the 2013 Inglis Easter yearling sale and sent to South Africa. He cantered home by 8 lengths on debut in March last year for champion trainer Mike De Kock and doubled up within a week when landing the LR Storm Bird Stakes at Turffontein.
In North America, More Than Ready colt Daredevil will make the most of a delayed return to racing in the G2 Swale Stakes (1400m) at Gulfstream Park on Saturday.
The scheduled Swale meeting last weekend was postponed after five races due to torrential rain and thunderstorms. “It’s not ideal but everyone’s in the same boat,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “He’s a very cool customer and nothing fazes him.”
Daredevil (2c More Than Ready – Chasethewildwind by Forty Niner) opened his racing career with a 6 length romp in September and then accelerated to a dominant Group 1 victory in the Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park.
He was installed a favourite for the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile but was never in contention at Santa Anita. “I’m not really sure what happened,” Pletcher said. “He got a wide trip on a track that probably wasn’t playing that way, and he had had three races in a short period of time.
“Daredevil is a very talented horse. He showed that in his first two starts last year and he’s come back and trained very well. He’s a very efficient mover and just has a terrific action to him.”
Closer to home on Saturday, More Than Ready mare Mihiri is the opening favourite for the G3 Wenona Girl Hcp ( 1200m) at Randwick. Class sprinter Knoydart can double up for the Vinery champion in the G2 Challenge Stakes (1000m).
At Flemington, Ready For Victory is making his debut in the LR Festival Of Racing 1000 for trainer Mick Price. He was a $240,000 yearling buy for Eliza Park International and is out of a half-sister to Group 1 winning 2YO Meurice.
Another interesting Australian bred More Than Ready is first-starter Entisaar at Turffontein. Trainer Mike De Kock has thrown her in at the deep end against six last-start winners in the LR Ruffian Stakes (1000m).
Entisaar (2f More Than Ready – Purrpurrlena by Catbird) is from an Australian G3 performer and was a $300,000 buy for Sheikh Hamdan before being exported to South Africa.