A devastatingly close second in the weekend’s colts and geldings’ Prelude has earned the Peter & Paul Snowden-trained Pride Of Dubai a late entry into the 2015 Blue Diamond Stakes at the end of the month.
Co-trainer Paul Snowden confirmed on TVN on Monday morning that owner Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum was now convinced paying the hefty $55,000 late entry to get the Street Cry colt into the Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival classic on February 28 would be worth the investment.
Pride Of Dubai, currently back in his Randwick stables in Sydney, is now on way to the $1 million Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) where he’ll be facing his first elite level field at just his third career start.
On debut at Rosehill in Sydney during December the up-and-comer ran a close third when just a length off the John O’Shea-trained Golden Slipper-bound filly Ottoman in the $85,000 Tab Place Multi Plate (1100m).
He settled back into ninth place from his awkward barrier nine draw that day and did well to improve around the home turn despite travelling wide (with cover).
Looking pretty green he switched wide again with 300m left to travel, and rallied in the latter stages, but did finish off well in a promising debut that hinted at better things to come.
On the back of a winning 1040m Randwick barrier trial from February 2, over the weekend Pride Of Dubai debuted in Melbourne in the $150,000 Group 3 Blue Diamond Prelude (C&G) (1100m) where his improvement was evident.
On the line he and jockey Damian Browne were just a nose off the Mark Riley-trained winner Of The Brave.
Pride Of Dubai completed his final 600m in 34.10 seconds, which was the third-fastest of the day by juveniles, boosting the Blue Diamond confidence of the previously not-nominated colt’s connections.
“There is massive upside on the horse. He’s nowhere near wound up yet — there’s still plenty left in the tank,” Snowden said.
She pays $2.60 now to retain an undefeated record that was extended to three wins over the weekend when the daughter of Turffontein won the $200,000 Group 2 Blue Diamond Fillies Prelude (1100m) by one and three-quarter lengths off $31 outsider Miss Gidget.
Pride Of Dubai meanwhile has been slashed into a $5.50 chance ahead of his Prelude conqueror Of The Brave ($7) and third placegetter in the race Sampeah ($8).
Late Blue Diamond Stakes entries close at midday on February 23.
The final declarations revealing the field then shut at 9am the next day.
A bookie is still to be confirmed for Pride Of Dubai in the classic.
Hugh Bowman, aboard for the horse’s two trials and debut run, was offered the ride.
He won’t be riding in Melbourne that day however opting instead to stay in Sydney for a gun ride aboard multiple Group 1 winning mare Lucia Valentina, who returned with a fourth to Godolphin’s ace import Contributer in the Group 2 Apollo Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on the weekend, in Warwick Farm’s $500,000 Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m).
“The ride is up for discussion. I’ve had a couple put their hand up for it. We’ll probably know by the end of the week who will ride him,” Snowden said.
A Blue Diamond Stakes jockey is also yet to be confirmed for the Tony McEvoy-trained Stoker, a $17 chance after the gelding’s 2YO Inglis Premier win at Sandown on February 7.
There he defeated stablemate Manhattan Blues who McEvoy said could be another late entry into the race.