Having progressed serenely through his work programme at home and in the UAE, Defoe will line up against 10 rivals as he makes his Meydan debut in the G2 Dubai City Of Gold on Saturday afternoon.

The grey came through a piece of work in the UK in style, heading to Dubai in great form, and although the aim is very much the G1 Sheema Classic on World Cup night he is in a good place in the build up to this first run since July. Prior to that well below-par run in the King George the Sheikh Mohammed Obaid-owned gelding had put up two career best performances in the G1 Coronation Cup & G2 Hardwicke Stakes, giving confidence that despite being a six-year-old he is only now reaching the top of his game.

Although two years Defoe's senior it's a credit to his trainer David Simcock that Desert Encounter will line up as our most obvious rival on paper. Andrea knows him well having been in the saddle when the 8yo won both of the his Group 1s in North America, although his running style lends itself to the ice cold abilities of Saturday's rider Jamie Spencer. Having had a run a couple of weeks ago he does look to be the clear danger to Defoe on ratings and performance. That's not to say there aren't others capable of landing the decisive blow - Pablo Escobarr has progressed well and clearly relishes the 12f without having yet picked up a Group race prize, and the Godolphin challenge is typically numerous without being as strong ratings-wise as you could expect in this race having won it with Old Persian and Hawkbill most recently.

Hopes are high that Defoe can replicate Postponed's efforts in 2016, Sheikh Obaid's star having been electric in this race before following up in the Sheema Classic.