Trainer John Moore will tweak tactics tomorrow to have his horse, Xtension, ridden near the speed in the US$5 million Dubai Duty Free, but fears local nemesis Ambitious Dragon will be 'right on his tail' and ready to strike at the World Cup meeting.
The lack of natural front-runners in the 1,800m turf race at Meydan could make it hard for the three Hong Kong-trained runners - the other being California Memory - as they are all horses that usually settle in the back of the field and benefit most from fast-run races.
Moore said jockey Jeff Lloyd would be instructed to surge forward on Xtension from barrier nine, hoping to snare a coveted position just behind the speed.
'Jeff will be looking to jump, get across to the fence and lay-up in the box seat just behind the pace,' he said.
'We've got a versatile horse who we can put in the race and we don't have to worry about the other horses. From there it doesn't matter so much what the pace is in the race. If there is none we're handy enough to take advantage, but if they run along we get the right run, too.'
While Moore was hoping for the box seat, he suggested Ambitious Dragon would be a length closer than usual and would be hard to hold out.
'One lives in hope of turning the tables on the champion, but I don't think a lack of speed makes it anymore likely,' Moore said.
'I can't see Ambitious Dragon, from barrier four, getting further back than midfield and I think they'll be a place closer than they usually are. He'll be one better than midfield and he'll be right on our tail.
'And if he is right on our tail, he'll be hard to beat.'
California Memory would be the horse most affected by a dawdling speed as he is usually ridden cold, but trainer Tony Cruz wants Matthew Chadwick to position the horse handier from gate eight. 'He's drawn right in the middle so I'm very pleased with that. If we can get him running in midfield I'll be very happy,' he said.
All three horses have settled in well, according to their trainers, with Cruz saying the hard work had been done with his grey gelding.
'The horse lost about 20 pounds on the flight over, but he put it all back on very quickly,' Cruz said. 'He had a trial last week so there's no need to do a lot with him here. He had a nice breeze yesterday and we gave him an easy canter this morning. He's a very genuine horse. When you ask him what you want he gives it to you. He waits on the signal from the jockey.'
California Memory's feet had also improved to the point were the trainer has dispensed with the glue-on shoes he wore last start.
'We have shod him normally and he should run his heart out,' Cruz said. 'He loves it here and the turf track has a good covering of grass. It's perfect ground for him.'
Xtension worked on the Tapeta artificial surface, Jeff Lloyd giving the stallion a solid workout.
'He cantered the 1,100 metres and just asked him to pick up, and he kept giving. It was good work. He felt it and had a proper blow.'
Moore said the post-work recovery was due to the heavy surface. 'I thought he galloped very nicely, but he found the going a little bit tough on the Tapeta and was labouring through it,' he said.
Ambitious Dragon repeated his now familiar routine of a quiet and early canter around the Meydan all-weather under Bev Millard, wife of trainer Tony Millard.
'We put the hood on him this morning as his canter was just a little quicker. He's very happy,' she said.