South African Group 1 winner Bold Silvano owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum and Mrs GT will miss the richest horse race on Saturday.
The colt, who won the Group 3 Al Maktoum Challenge Round Two, had been installed as the second favourite after Twice Over for the $10 million Emirates Airline Dubai World Cup at Meydan.
But Mike de Kock’s World Cup hope was scratched after pulling up lame following his final gallop on Sunday. He is the second high-profile horse to pull out of a World Cup day card after Snow Fairy was withdrawn from the Dubai Sheema Classic.
Bold Silvano, who was to be the mount of Belgian jockey Christophe Soumillon, missed his final prep for the 2,000-metre Dubai World Cup, the Al Maktoum Challenge – Round 3 with a foot bruise.
South African trainer and Dubai International Racing Carnival regular Mike de Kock will counter with English Group 3 winner Golden Sword, who will be entered in Bold Silvano’s place, and South Africa’s 2009 champion two-year-old male Musir.
“He worked well (on Sunday) but seems to have tweaked or pulled something,” de Kock said of Bold Silvano. “We cannot actually put our finger on it immediately, but it is enough to rule him out.
“It is a great shame as he is a genuine (Dubai) World Cup horse. It has not been easy with him this season, but we will be back next year. At least we have back up in the shape of Golden Sword, who will take his place,” he told Racing Post.
Golden Sword enters off back-to-back victories in a 1,900-metre handicap race on February 10 and a 2,000-metre conditions race on February 18, both at Meydan.
“It is no secret that we wanted to run Golden Sword in the Dubai World Cup as he has been a revelation on the all-weather (Tapeta),” de Kock said. “He is working very well and certainly seems to be back to something like his best. His form in Europe suggests he will handle conditions.”
Meanwhile, three-time champion Gio Ponti leads the American challenge as he takes his second shot at the world’s most lucrative thoroughbred race. His connections are hoping that a change in preparation will result in an improved performance.
Last year, the six-year-old Tale of the Cat horse finished second in the Tampa Bay Stakes prior to heading overseas, where he finished fourth – 1 ¼ lengths behind Gloria de Campeao (Brazil) – in the Dubai World Cup, his first start on the synthetic Tapeta surface.
This time, Gio Ponti will enter the starting gate for the race without a prep, having last raced in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) on November 6 at Churchill Downs.
Trainer Christophe Clement is hoping that a series of solid workouts will see him fit enough to take on some of the top runners in the world.
“I was very happy with his work,” Clement told Racing Post. “Everything is good. The horse looks good. He’s very sound, and in very good order. It’s easier to go into a big race like this with a prep race, but that did not work out.”
Gio Ponti is expected to face an accomplished group of 13 challengers in the 16th running of the Dubai World Cup, a cast that could include as many as ten Grade or Group 1 winners.
The other US-based runner expected to start in the Dubai World Cup is 2010 Belmont Stakes (G1) and Travers Stakes (G1) runner-up Fly Down, who now races for Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah and his sons.
Three-time English Group 1 winner Twice Over, who finished a disappointing tenth in last year’s race, is the favourite.