The midterm points leader on the European Road to the Kentucky Derby, Godolphin’s homebred Royal Marine is expected to try dirt for the first time in Dubai Thursday.

The Saeed bin Suroor trainee is among a large group of preliminary entries for the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial at Meydan. The metric mile event serves as a course-and-distance prep for the February 7 UAE 2000 Guineas (G3), part of the Dubai Carnival’s series for three-year-olds that culminates in the March 30 UAE Derby (G2) on World Cup Day.

Plans call for Royal Marine, last seen capturing the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1) on the ParisLongchamp turf, to be in the line-up once final declarations are published Tuesday.

“He is a lovely colt, who has done very well since arriving here in Dubai,” bin Suroor told godolphin.com last week.

“The plan is to run him…in the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial at Meydan to see how he runs on a dirt surface. If he performs well on it, then we will press ahead with the Guineas here in Dubai, and after that, the (UAE) Derby.

“But first, he must show us he is comfortable running on dirt.”

Royal Marine’s pedigree and running style both imply that he can adapt to the dirt. By Raven’s Pass and from a deep female line, Royal Marine is a half-brother to Dubai dirt veteran Secret Ambition, who placed second in the 2018 Burj Nahaar (G3) at this track and trip.

Bin Suroor has three others in the mix at this stage, most notably Royal Meeting, the Criterium International (G1) winner who is cross-entered to a turf race Thursday.

Royal Marine’s potential rivals from other barns include unbeaten Walking Thunder, two-for-two on the Meydan dirt; Al Seel Legacy’s, a debut winner here for top UAE trainer Doug Watson; Argentine import Faith and Fortune representing Carnival fixture Mike de Kock; and Simon Crisford’s Group 3 scorer Sporting Chance, successful on both turf and all-weather but untried on dirt. 

Royal Marine photo by Frank Sorge/Horsephotos.com