Christophe Lemaire, who since basing himself in Japan has modelled himself into one of the best go-to jockeys in the world, feels he has possibly the best book of rides he has ever assembled for a major international meeting at Meydan on Saturday.
The Frenchman has six mounts on the Dubai World Cup card, but it is Japanese aces Schnell Meister and Authority that he hopes will give him a valuable postscript to his famous haul in Saudi Arabia last month.
Lemaire enjoyed a stellar day at Riyadh racecourse, riding four winners including Neom Turf Cup victor Authority and Red Sea Turf Handicap hero Stay Foolish – both of whom run in Dubai.
The rider observed: “Riding in Dubai, it’s always a pleasure to compete against the best riders and horses in the world and I feel confident because two of the horses I won with in Saudi are running again here.
“I think the main reason for the success of racing in Japan is that they breed to a very high level, while the owners and breeders invest heavily in the purchase of mares and yearlings. They are buying horses with tremendous pedigrees, while places like Dubai and the United States really suit the Japanese horses.”
Authority is carded to start favourite for the Sheema Classic and Lemaire said: “He will be running over a mile and four furlongs and is more used to that trip than 2,000 metres (one mile and two furlongs). He stepped up last time, and as a runner-up in the Japan Cup, is a proper Group One horse.
“Also, I think he has improved from last year when he was beaten by Contrail, a champion in Japan. He has stamina and is an easy ride, and not as keen as he was.
“On Saturday it depends on the pace. If it’s strong he can sit third or fourth, but if not he can make the running.”
Stay Foolish is Lemaire’s mount in the Dubai Gold Cup and the jockey explained: “His win in Saudi was a bit of a surprise. He went there in excellent condition, but I didn’t expect such domination from him.
“It was his first try at 3,000 metres (one mile and seven furlongs) and he really liked it. On Saturday, I hope he will be comfortable and improve his pace in the final straight.”
There is talk of Stay Foolish heading for Australia later in the year and Lemaire added: “Japanese horses have performed perfectly well in the Melbourne Cup and he’s got the ability to do well in it. He’s an easy ride and I think he would be comfortable on Flemington race track.”
Schnell Meister is another big arrow Lemaire has to fire in the Dubai Turf. The jockey is confident that if the likely strong pace materialises, his horse will take a hand in the finish.
He said: “Schnell Meister is a very good horse and has improved again this year. He’s a good miler but I feel he will be better over a longer trip, and 1,700 metres (one mile and one furlong) is perfect for him. He’s a tough horse and a very strong finisher.
“He beat Songline and then that horse won in Saudi, form which is really good. I rode him yesterday and he looks in very good condition. I’m expecting a big run from him and the pace will help him finish off his race at the end.”