Top international galloper Unusual Suspect will kick off his Dubai Gold Cup (3200m) campaign at Meydan racecourse tonight.
Melbourne trainer Mick Kent prepared the American stallion for last year’s Melbourne Cup after Thirroul’s Peter Lord bought into the outstanding racehorse.
Unusual Suspect has been in Dubai since the middle of January and Kent is setting his sights on the $1 million Dubai Gold Cup on March 31.
The former American trained eight year old is stepping out in a 2000m Handicap against fifteen rivals on the turf track and will be ridden by UK champion apprentice Ryan Moore.
Lord said that everything was going well with Unusual Suspect and once an invitation to Dubai was received, the opportunity of a lifetime was too hard to knock back.
‘‘Aside from the experience, it’s one of those countries that any owner would like to look at,’’ Lord said.
‘‘Not only from a prestige perspective, but also in money, this is one of the richest races in the world with $30 million in prize money on that particular night.
‘‘To be able to think you’ve got a horse that’s good enough to go there is a thrill.
‘‘And from the horse’s perspective, if he is to be successful his value as a stallion will certainly increase.
‘‘For us to be able to send him up there and for him to be in an environment that he’s still comfortable racing in – that was also a consideration.’’
Unusual Suspect had four runs for Kent in the spring and although he didn’t get a win he ran a creditable ninth behind Dunaden in the $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) last November.
When trained in America by Barry Adams before last year’s Spring carnival, Unusual Suspect was a winner of nine of his 56 starts and collected almost $1.5m in prizemoney.
Kent put Unusual Suspect back into light work at the end of November and has sent him to Dubai to prepare for Gold Cup in a reasonably forward condition with two trials under belt.
With Unusual Suspect going into tonight’s race in a fairly fit, Kent is hoping he’ll be ready to peak on that World Cup night.
After the World Cup Carnival is over, Unusual Suspect will be returning Australia for Kent to prepare this year’s Melbourne Cup.
‘‘He’ll then go back to Cranbourne and hopefully follow the same path as what he did this year,’’ Lord said.