Racing

Elite Excalibur ready to cross swords

Kranji winning debutant in Dubai

Trainer Steven Burridge is having one more roll of the dice with Elite Excalibur tomorrow before making any decision about future Dubai plans.

After his highly successful first Dubai raid with Dark Matter, Ip Man (later renamed El Padrino) and Captain Obvious (four wins between them) in 2012, Burridge decided to renew the experience with another trio, but luck was not on his side.

To start with, only Elite Excalibur was able to race. Hermano Menor met with suspensory problems and Jay Eff Express broke down.

DEBUT WIN

Elite Excalibur, who boarded that Dubai-bound plane after the winning Kranji debut in November, has had two runs at Meydan, and though he was not outclassed, he has fallen a little short of expectations.

"Elite Excalibur was not outclassed at his two runs in Dubai," said Burridge.

"He was a bit unlucky at his first run (Jan 5). He jumped awkwardly and was a little interfered with in the straight but still ran on well for fifth.

"He had every chance at his second start last Thursday but he just could not dash through the gap."

Contrary to the first run where the Fastnet Rock four-year-old had a scrappy start and caused some interference in the home straight, he enjoyed a more straightforward run in transit at his second Meydan run, taking the box-seat behind the lead, but when the run presented itself along the rails, he just could not muster the necessary kick to give Burridge and his owners that overseas moment of glory.

Raced by Kranji newcomer, Elite Performance Stable, Elite Excalibur boasted a glowing resume in Australia where he won three races (1,200m, 1,300m and 1,400m) as River Wild, including two in city class (Randwick and Rosehill) for premier trainer Gai Waterhouse and was owned by Coolmore.

In Dubai, Elite Excalibur was beaten on both occasions by two horses hailing from another powerhouse, Godolphin.

The first horse from the "Boys in Blue" to beat him was Flash Fire (William Buick) in the US$135,000 (S$191,000) Longines Dolce Vita (1,400m), followed by Promising Run (Jim Crowley) in the US$200,000 Group 2 Al Rashidiya (1,800m). Flash Fire is prepared by Charlie Appleby while Promising Run comes under the care of Saeed bin Suroor.

Kranji jockey Michael Rodd, who actually copped a two-day suspension from that ride for allowing his mount to shift out in the straight, was aboard at the first outing but was taken over by South African jockey Bernard Fayd'Herbe in the Group 2 Al Rashidiya.

The heavyweight rider, who had a short stint at Kranji in 2013, will again take the ride in tomorrow's US$135,000 race over 1,600m.

BACKING HIM UP

"I'm backing him up this Thursday and dropping him back to the mile. Bernard will ride him again," said Burridge.

"The horse has pulled up well and I hope he can run a good race. The quality of horses running at the Carnival is getting better as the Dubai World Cup night approaches.

"We'll see how he goes and then make a decision if we press on."