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Racing: Nayef on course for Dubai crown.

RICHARD Hills was left in high spirits ahead of tomorrow's Dubai World Cup after he and Nayef completed their big-race build-up with a work-out at Nad al Sheba yes t erday.

The favourite's jockey, who also won the race in 1999 aboard Almutawakel, has been joined in Dubai by twin brother Michael and father Barry ahead of the prestigious meeting.

Nayef impressed clockwatchers as he enjoyed a blow-out over four furlongs of the tracks, leaving Hills to describe his mount as ``absolutely spot on''.

``We had Ekraar and Albareq on either side, but it is not a case of getting him used to the kickback. He has been drilled in that department for the last two or three weeks and has taken it well,'' he said.

``Some people might be surprised that we gave him another proper breeze, but he takes more work than a normal horse.

``He has strengthened up since last year and is now eight kilos heavier. He gives me the same feeling he did before he won the Sheema Classic here last year and if we get lucky again I'll be running around the plane on the way back to Heathrow on Saturday night!

``I am chuffed to bits that daddecided to join Michael (who also has two rides at the meeting) on the plane out. He has been here a few times and usually brought me luck, so I hope it rubs off again.'' Even Nayef's arch-pessimist trainer Marcus Tregoning admitted that after seeing his charge work that he was feeling hopeful of a bold showing in the Emir-ates-sponsored pounds 6m contest. ``He needed to do a little bit because he gets pretty fresh sometimes, but he really is in great form,'' said Tregoning.

``The signs are all there to make us hopeful. All we need to do now is get him through the next night and we will give it our best shot .''

CAPTION(S):

DUBAI HOPEFUL Nayef in action in last year's The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes at Ascot.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 28, 2003
Words:340
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