Dubai World Cup Night 2013 (Tapeta Races Only)


Won last year by the Godolphin runner African Story in blistering fashion, the son of Pivotal has this year been rerouted towards the Dubai World Cup after an explosive performance over a mile on his comeback run this campaign.

I can see the logic in the Godolphin thinking given how open and poor quality of opposition the Dubai World Cup has attracted this time round – a year in which it wouldn’t be surprised to see the Winter Derby winner (Farraaj) end up the season rated higher than the winner of the Dubai World Cup.

Mike De Kock saddles the favourite in Soft Falling Rain who comes into this contest off the back of two impressive victories out in Dubai, most recently in the UAE 2000 Guineas (Group 3). He was the champion two-year-old in his native South Africa and remains unbeaten in his career to date but hasn’t been given an ideal draw in stall 13, on the outside of likely pace-setter Capital Attraction with Saamidd to his outside who will also be looking to drop in.

Moonwalk In Paris has twice run to a mark of around 113 on his two most recent Dubai Carnival starts but hasn’t been given any help with the draw out in box 15, and is ridden by the enigma that is Ahmed Ajtebi.

Barbecue Eddie is a very likeable sort and a stalwart out on the Dubai scene but he has been handed a draw out in the car park in stall 16, and whatever chance he appeared to have before the draw was announced soon evaporated.

Surfer is one you have to give a chance to, he has been handed an assortment of high draws throughout this campaign and gets a decent draw position for the first time in a short while. A decent run the last day when fourth over the long distance to Dubai World Cup favourite Hunter’s Light and must surely place a role in the finish here.

From memory there appeared to be a fairly slow and tactical running of the Godolphin Mile last year with those positioned closest to the pace benefitting from soft early fractions. I am hoping that Tadgh O’Shea can grab the lead without as little exertion as possible aboard the Ernst Ortel trained Capital Attraction and lead them all from pillar-to-post in a performance similar to last time when only bettered by African Story in the Burj Nahaar.

Should they go too quick in the early exchanges it will be worth looking out for Weichong Marwing aboard Rerouted who will be finishing fast and late down the centre of the track and wouldn’t be a forlorn hope at double-figure odds.


Strictly speaking a repeat performance of his victory in the Al Bastakiya will be more than enough to see Secret Number take out this Group 2 contest. A winner of his sole start as a juvenile in the UK, Secret Number put in a huge performance when winning that contest off just his second lifetime start.

Losing lengths at the start of the contest he endured a terrible trip throughout keeping widest of all to avoid any trouble in what was a tactically run affair throughout. The fact he still had enough engine to roll over the top of them into the straight, let alone to win convincingly signalled this is a top class colt in the making and he really should win this race tomorrow afternoon.

I have him running to 112+ when winning the race, that is without even accounting for the distance lost at the start and the amount wider he travelled further than his rivals throughout (which equates to around 10L) it wouldn’t be inconceivable to think he is a legitimate 120 horse based on that performance.

Of course we have a couple of American’s in the field who are untried on the surface, along with Keiai Leone a raider from Japan who has to be respected. Add to that the twist of the European duo of Lines Of Battle (Aidan O’Brien) and Law Enforcement (Richard Hannon) this makes up into a half interesting race in what has been suffering in recent years.

Mahmood Al Zarooni also saddles Now Spun who was an impressive winner on the Dubai turf on his most recent effort and makes the switch to the Tapeta for the first time, and must have impressed enough to warrant a run in this contest.

Of the remainder the two which interest me most are Shuruq and Snowboarder and I’ve included them in a couple of small each-way multiples on the card despite being against the hotpot favourite of Secret Number. Both have run to decent figures out in Dubai and could easily make the frame here in what is an open contest.


Won last year in somewhat of a shock by Krypton Factor who basically picked up the pieces after Rocket Man, duelled so hard at an electric pace in the opening exchanges with Giant Ryan to grab the lead he had nothing left when Kieran Fallon bought his mount upsides.

Krypton Factor was a disappointing second behind Reynaldothewizard the last day in the Mahaab Al Shimaal and it would genuinely be a shock were he to retain his crown in this contest against much stronger opposition.

Mental made an impressive debut in the UAE with a strong late burst to snare the Al Shindagha Sprint back in February. He was held back off a hot pace in the first half of the race so understandable finished powerfully as those in-front of him had already given their all. He is without doubt a class horse and ran to around 122 when winning that race last time, and he could well have the race set up for him again with the two American horses looking likely to duel on the lead early.

Trinniberg winner of the Breeders Cup Sprint when last seen at the close of 2012 he looks a big price at around the 8-1 mark based on that performance. He likes to go forward and get things done and looks sure to run a big race along with fellow American Private Zone who will likely be ridden attackingly also.

Frederick Engels was a good horse in the UK as a juvenile and has since developed into one of the best sprinters in Hong Kong since being sold by Pearl Bloodstock, and he would be a very interesting recruit on the first time switch to Tapeta. He is an unknown quantity on this surface (a similar thing can be said about much of this opposition) and he ranks a fair price at around the 10-1 mark.

Of the remainder Gordon Lord Byron has developed into a smart horse but looks much too short at the prices, and only won an egg and spoon race at Dundalk the last day.

I honestly can’t see Reynaldothewizard being good enough to land this Group 1 prize despite being transformed since wearing blinkers and I’d be disappointed were he to get his head in-front of these based on what I’ve saw.

I guess the one I’d chance at this stage would be Kavanagh from the Mike De Kock yard who was ridden closer to the hot pace than Mental when these pair last met in February and has since accounted for some high-grade sprinters on the turf in impressive style. He is currently around the 10-1 mark and if ridden more conservatively off the likely quick pace early on he’ll be in with a say in the finish as they turn for home.


A very poor renewal of the world’s richest race and considering the prize money on offer you’d expect a better turnout for this event.

Last year’s winner Monterosso was so disappointing on his return to action behind this year’s favourite Hunter’s Light in the third round of the Al Maktoum Challenge, but his trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni appeared to suggest the run was needed and he’d left plenty to work with. A repeat of his victory in this race last year would be good enough to win this I reckon, but I struggle to see him finding enough improvement in such a short space of time.

Hunter’s Light has done nothing wrong since the middle of the summer in 2012 and has further enhanced his reputation with his performances out in Dubai this winter. He is the one they all have to beat and has been given a good draw in stall four, he looks likely to go very close but consequently isn’t a big enough price to get excited about.

I can’t have either of Royal Delta who looked absolutely clueless on the Tapeta in this race twelve months ago and I can’t see any reason why she should improve dramatically on that effort and is clearly a better animal on the more conventional dirt in her native America – or Dullahan who is a massively overrated animal.

Kassiano has progressed nicely through handicaps this campaign in much the similar way Capponi did twelve months previously but hasn’t been helped with a wide berth in this contest and although will be dropped in early on will need plenty of luck in running in what is a usually tactical affair.

African Story switches to this race instead of trying to defend his crown in the Godolphin Mile, and on ratings alone is one of the best horses plying his trade out in Dubai in recent years. Quite whether he’ll be good enough over this longer distance remains to be seen but if his stamina holds out he holds massive claims.

Meandre is too slow to get competitive over this distance, and Treasure Beach should have gone for the Sheema Classic.

Capponi is one who could surprise a few here if Mahmood Al Zarooni has him forward enough for this assignment and given the value of the race you’d have thought he’d have him spot on.

My idea of the bet though has to be Planteur who won in a massive time on the Polytrack at Lingfield a month or so ago, despite looking awful in the pre-parade ring beforehand. He ran third in this race last year despite sweating up badly at the start, he was caught wide throughout and came home really well from off the pace. Providing he is ridden closer to the pace this time round, and doesn’t lose his head in the preliminaries he looks a sure bet to be in the first three for me, and rates a fairly strong bet at the prices.

[notification_box]My Bets:
1pt each-way Capital Attraction @ 20-1 (1/4 odds) with Boylesports
4pts win Secret Number @ 2-1 (Generally)
1pt each-way Kavanagh @ 11-1 (1/4 Odds) with Boylesports, Bet365 & Ladbrokes
3pts each-way Planteur @ 12-1 (1/4 Odds) with Boylesports & Bet365. [/notification_box]


Meydan Thursday’s

Thursday afternoons rarely have a purpose other than bringing the workforce another half day closer to that Friday feeling. That is unless you’re a fan of quality flat action as those wealthy fellas out in the Emirates are about to host another weekly Carnival of racing- I have been counting down the days until I can switch from Leicester and Ludlow to Meydan!

Never short of a grand idea or two, the Dubai Racing Club turned Nad Al Sheba from wasteland in 1991 to hosting the world’s richest race four years after the racecourse was officially opened. The Dubai World Cup remains the centrepiece of the final day of the Carnival and the race’s value has increased to over eight figures, quite ridiculous in comparison to some of the Group Ones run in front of us on European soil. Since Cigar was wooed into taking part in – and winning – the inaugural World Cup in 1996, Dubai has witnessed some outstanding races as the fields have grown in quality almost year on year- Dar Re Mi’s Sheema Classic struck me personally as being one of the best Group Ones I had seen in a long time. Below the top level the value of the handicaps week in week out ensures that there is high-quality representation from Europe and the rest of the world – almost every race run at the Carnival would feature prominently on a Saturday afternoon in Britain – and with horses from places like South America, the US and Australia clashing with our own recognisable animals there is almost always an interesting feature of every race. More than likely this sounds like PR for the DRC, but I find the whole thing fascinating- I wrote on Student Racing about how I completed most of my dissertation in Ladbrokes watching what was probably the first year of racing at Meydan, and I do think that without it on the LBO screens the 10,000 words might have sent me over the edge.

The most famous race/performance at the Carnival is still Dubai Millennium’s sensational effort in the 2000 World Cup, and to be honest they could probably race in the desert for another hundred years without seeing anything like it. It’s still on YouTube and well worth replaying a few times! An immensely athletic beast who was only beaten once when a blatant non-stayer in the 1999 Derby, Dubai Millennium would in my opinion have given Frankel an awful lot to think about. My own personal favourite race from the Emirates was much more low-key and in fact when I look back at it on the Racing Post site now it was only a 40k conditions race. The event was a one mile race featuring even money favourite and established high-class performer Eagle Mountain as well as four other horses rated 110 or better. 95-rated maiden winner Skysurfers made them all look like they’d been nailed to the Tapeta and I think he became my favourite horse in training there and then. I think we were on a bit of an all-dayer at uni at the time which would probably explain the overreaction to what I thought I’d seen but I was still pretty gutted when he couldn’t beat the likes of Yaa Wayl and Penitent back on turf in Britain.

While Skysurfers was only making waves inside my flat near Headingley, today’s card features one of the most universally popular horses at the Carnival in Barbecue Eddie. The now nine-year-old Eddie lines up in the first round of the Makhtoum Challenge over a mile at 5.20 and is the general second favourite on early prices in the shops. The old boy will complete a four-timer should he get his head in front on the jam stick in the Group Two event but there is intriguing competition from Godolphin entries Out Of Bounds and Fulbright as well as another Hamdan runner in Mufarrh. BBQ backers will be hoping his fitness edge can help him overcome ex-American Out Of Bounds- a colt who apparently looked very smart when taking a Grade Three on the dirt over the pond- and also Mufarrh who was second to my boy Skysurfers in the 2011 Godolphin Mile but has only been seen once since when below his best. Fulbright brings Group Two turf form to the table and seeing as his jockey will be wearing blue it’s hard to rule out him being even better over there on his Tapeta debut. I’m not sure the Newmarket form is that great, however those colours really improve a couple of pounds out here… Marco Botti may well have travelled over in First Class after the gamble he landed at Leafy the other day and Fanunalter could go well at a double figure price despite running poorly on his last two starts. I’m not inclined to have a bet in the race but will be watching Out Of Bounds with great interest given his profile and the fact I have no idea about him. If forced then a couple of quid each way on Fanunalter could be the way to go considering he won the Summer Mile off a similar break to the one he’s had before today’s race but I doubt any roubles will be leaving my pocket this afternoon.

The rest of the card contains plenty of interesting runners:

3.05: Akeed Wafi– Looked potentially smart when he won his maiden in Ireland for John Oxx and was second fav for a Irish 2000 Guineas trial over there when second to Furner’s Green. Fifth (and last) to Takar in dismal ground the only other time he’s been seen and his mark of 102 is likely to be higher by the end of the Carnival.

Oasis Dancer – Much more thoroughly exposed than Akeed Wafi and had a rocky 2012. Had threatened to be better than a 102 horse when winning an all-weather Listed sprint in the early part of the year but form collapsed in a bit of a heap over the same trip afterwards. Gave a glimmer of hope that he was turning a corner when beaten four lengths by Belgian Bill over 7f at Kempton last time and could pop up in Dubai.

3.40: A couple in the race from abroad who can be filed in the ‘could be anything’ bracket in Govinda (Germany) and Benji’s Empire (Hong Kong). The market prefers the Asian challenger and to be honest I don’t know anything about either so couldn’t say if either is well handicapped.

Temple Meads: Looked a sprinter with loads of potential when he won the Mill Reef in 2010 but had a horrid 2012 after missing the whole of 2011. Ran alright behind Ballista at Leicester in September and on old form 105 would be very appealing.

Bear Behind: Very smart for one who has only won once. Mark of 104 looks fair considering his exploits behind Ballesteros and slightly in front of Hamish McConagall (when disqualified and placed second) and as with plenty before him he found everything happening too quickly on fast ground in the Epsom Dash. May need it today but could make up to be a very nice type.

4.15: Rocks Off and Farrier have tidy form figures out in the Middle East and could both be well handicapped. Again I’ve got no real grasp on the form out there so I’d be guessing but no surprise if one of them was good enough. Mark Johnston’s Universal was progressing very nicely until possibly undone by the heavy ground at Chester on his last run and 9/1 is quite appealing. Kassiano is similar to Rocks Off and Farrier in that his form figures (completed hat-trick last time) look nice but I really don’t know about their worth while one of the other Godolphin runners Royal Empire has only had five runs and is likely to end the Carnival off a mark a fair bit higher than 100. The rest are exposed to varying degrees except for Mushreq at the top of the weights, and while he’s been running in Group Ones he’s been beaten far enough. Start Right would interest me at 20/1 on the piece of form he produced at Goodwood but the Tapeta isn’t overly conductive to hold-up tactics and if I were to have a punt I’d probably side with Universal at 9/1.

4.50: Sharestan: has the potential to be really smart for Godolphin having looked good in winning Listed races in Ireland last year. Ran Famous Name to a head and on the figures is a worthy 11/8 shot. although after his absence I’d rather not be involved. While plenty of horses improve dramatically in these colours at the Carnival more than the odd one has tailed off completely so I’d rather watch in this case.

So Beautiful: Unexposed French Group Three winner. That’s about what I know so far having never seen her race. None of the three to chase him home did too much for the form next time but he adds another interesting element to the race.

Red Duke: Could benefit from the ease in grade as he’s competed in much better races than the rest of these – bar Al Shemali – according to the book. Maybe surprising that he’s an each way price and is one of the few tempting bets on day one.

6.00: Just a fair ending to the day by the looks of things. Amanee won a Grade Two in South Africa and a mark of 102 could wildly underestimate her if similar past Mike De Kock runners are anything to go by. Otherwise the highly regarded Arnold Lane is of interest off 105 having been third in the Newmarket Group Two won by Fulbright and Don’t Call Me’s first and second in big Ascot handicaps at the end of the turf season suggest he could keep improving at six-years-old. Lockwood – the Godolphin second string – has a French Group Three on his CV and was highly regarded enough to be sent off 6/1 for the Maurice de Gheest. 9/1 off 109 is semi appealing.

Krypton Factor to aim for all top Dubai Carnival sprints

When Krypton Factor took to the track at Meydan Racecourse at the start of last season, he was a handicapper rated 100.

This season he will embark on the defense of his 2012 US$2m Dubai Golden Shaheen Crown a Group 1 winner rated 123.

Within the span of just four races last term the highly progressive gelding worked his way through the ratings to earn a spot in the Group 1 Dubai World Cup day all-weather sprint alongside the likes of the contest’s 2012 winner, Rocket Man and Bob Baffert’s The Factor.

“I think a lot of people were questioning whether he had the class,” says owner-trainer Nass of his first Group 1 winner. “In a very short span he went from being a handicapper rated 100 to being a Group 1 winner. He wasn’t the favourite and I don’t think anybody expected him to win in the way he did. He looked the winner around 200m out.”

This season the handsome bay won’t get onto the track until the Al Shindagha Sprint rolls around in February.

“There isn’t really a race for Krypton Factor until February,” says Nass. As well as conditioning 11 horses in Dubai, the handler also maintains a 42-strong yard in his native Bahrain and has a small number of horses in training in the UK. Among them is the promising Mujazif, a three-length winner of a nice maiden for Brian Meehan in Newmarket this October.

“I’ll be looking at the Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint in mid Febuary and the Mahab Al Shimal on Super Saturday for him,” he says.

Krypton Factor was the popular success story of the Dubai World Cup Carnival last season. His duels with Hitchens captured the imagination of race fans. Hitchens first beat Nass’s charge by a short head in the Al Shindagha Sprint before the fast-improving Krypton Factor turned the tables on David Barron’s sprinter in the Mahab Al Shimal.

Then on World Cup day Krypton Factor, ridden by regular jockey, Kieren Fallon, claimed the biggest sprint prize, dashing the hopes of Pat Shaw’s defending champion, Rocket Man as well as pre-race favourite, The Factor to claim the Golden Shaheen.

Now Nass is looking forward to seeing whether his stable star can defend his Golden Shaheen Crown on March 30, 2013.

“He went to Singapore and Ascot and encountered soft ground and he’d done some travelling so we didn’t see him at his best,” he says. “But he loves the all-weather in Dubai and he is back here now. He’s doing very well but he’s still far away from being ready for his first run, which won’t be until later in the season.”

But Nass has plenty to keep him busy until then. He recently purchased Carnival runners, Lui Rei an old Dubai campaigner and two-year-old Hototo, who finished sixth in the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes for former trainer, Kevin Ryan, in October.

“Lui Rei is rated 102 and has run around Meydan a few times,” says Nass. “He’s not a young horse and we are just hoping that he bounces back to his best form. Hototo is rated 104 and he looks like a consistent youngster that I’m hoping can maintain that same form over here.”

With 42 days to go until the Carnival, Nass is set to saddle his first runner of the new season tomorrow (Friday) at Jebel Ali Racecourse.

Critical Moment goes to post in a 1,600m maiden at the Sheikh Ahmed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum-owned course under jockey, Pat Cosgrave.

“He ran in the UAE last year having come over from England rated 100,” says Nass, who won’t be in attendance at the races on Friday as he also has runners in Bahrain. “He’s now rated 88, which hopefully should be nice competitive mark. He stayed here in Dubai over the summer and I’m looking forward to seeing how he comes on.”

Also carrying the Nass colours this season will be Forevertheoptimist and Journalistic who will make their seasonal debuts at Meydan on Thursday December 6.

“Forevertheoptimist is in the same boat as Critical Moment,” says Nass. “He came here last year but we could not get him right so he didn’t run. He’s dropped from a mark of 97 to 91. Journalistic is a maiden who had five attempts in England, coming second once and third twice. I’m hoping that the break has helped him come on since his last run.”

Also due to have pre-Carnival runs are Finest Reserve, Shamsheer, Muraweg and Rocks Off.

“I bought them over from Bahrain and they’ve all run there apart from Finest Reserve,” says Nass. “They have good race records and they are just horses that I thought would take to the all-weather.”

Dubai World Cup Night Preview

The opening race on World Cup Night at (#Meydan) and was won last year by Skysurfers from Stall 13, under a good ride from Frankie Dettori. The son of E Dubai doesn’t line up this year, and neither does runner up Mufarrh which leaves Red Jazz as a representative of that form from twelve months ago. The five-year-old son of Johannesburg was third in this race last year under Michael Hills and it is interesting to see him return after his trainer suggested he didn’t enjoy the surface as much as he does turf.

African Story tops the market after an impressive display over course & distance last time up, and a repeat of that performance would make him seriously hard to beat here from a plum draw in Stall 4. Saeed Bin Suroor’s gelding has steadily progressed since being out here in Dubai, and clocked one of the fastest speed figures I’ve ever awarded out here with his most recent performance.Shamalgan, First City and Dux Scholar have plenty to find on what they’ve put forward thus far on their speed figures out here and I struggle to see any of these getting involved at the business end.

Do It All stole a tactical race to win the Zabeel Mile (Group 2) last time, and his numbers suggest he too will struggle against the higher quality of opposition on offer.

Haatheq is one I could genuinely give a chance of making the frame too, but he hasn’t been given any help by his draw widest of all in box 14. The same can be said for Snaafy who followed home African Story last time in the Burj Nahaar but never looked like winning at any point – he continues to run some rather large figures but doesn’t win when his figures suggests he can, which suggests he is either unlucky, or saves a little for himself.

Viscount Nelson is untried thus far on anything other than turf, so it is interesting to see Mike De Kock switch him now, but in all honesty he has plenty on his plate in this grade, and think he’ll be finishing mid-pack at best.

Sandagiyr clocked a good time on Tapeta but failed to follow that up on turf in a slowly run Zabeel Mile last time and could return to a similar level back on this surface but is priced up about right at 11/1.

Two which interest me in this race at prices are Western Aristocrat and Derbaas. Jeremy Noseda’s four-year-old clocked a massive time on the Polytrack at Kempton that would give him every chance at pitching in at this level, and duly followed up with a win in America taking the Jamaica Handicap (Grade 1) at Belmont. While Derbaas has clocked several large speed figures on the Dubai circuit, he has struggled to win this season and has been presented with easier opportunities than what he’ll face tomorrow, but is still overpriced at 20/1.

The second race on the World Cup Night, and this was a very tactical affair which was decided last year by those racing up on the pace.

Mikhail Glinka clocked one of the best figures I’ve ever awarded him for his run last time, but he raced in a good position last year and failed to stay the distance (and hung left) into the home straight, and with this being a stronger renewal I worry for his chances of taking top rank.

Opinion Poll came third in this race last year, from a position which wouldn’t of best suited him in the way the race panned out, and once again you’d expect him to play a hand in the finish here, but he was held last time by Fox Hunt over two furlongs less, and the former Mark Johnston in-mate can confirm that form over the longer distance, before making his name as one of the smartest two mile flat horses in the country this season (in the UK).

Grand Vent doesn’t look good enough, nor does he look certain to stay this trip and similar can be said of Averroes. Unusual Suspect hasn’t taken to racing out in Dubai so far and although the trip will help him, he doesn’t look classy enough to play a hand in the finish here.

Zanzamar has shown good form in Dubai over trips shorter than a mile and a half, but is bred to absolutely relish this longer distance, and he has place claims under Richard Hills.

Joshua Tree is another who looks likely to come up short here but shouldn’t have any troubles lasting out this longer trip, and throw into the unknown Makani Bisty from Japan it makes for a rather tricky race.

My idea of the winner though is the Alan Bailey trainer Barbican who is bred to stay longer than the mother-in-law, and has shown very smart form over middle distances in the UK as a three-year-old. He is bred to improve with age and will be much stronger this season, I expect him to be winning good staying prizes this season for his Newmarket handler, and what better way to start?

3:25 – UAE DERBY (GROUP 2)
A rather competitive renewal of a race which has seen some really good winners over the years. From the likes of Asiatic Boy, Discreet Cat to more recently Musir. This has been a race which has been farmed by Mike De Kock and Saeed Bin Suroor who have trained all 12 winners of this race between them.

Saeed Bin Suroor has trained 7 winners of this race, and this year he doesn’t have an entry in this race, so if the trend is to continue then it all comes down to Mike De Kock to expand on his current 5 winner haul, and he saddles Mickdaam who has gradually been brought along to peak tomorrow night.

There isn’t much between them all, but from what I hold before me the current favourite Wrote is massively underpriced at 4/1, and I’ll be looking to get him beaten. I will also be doing similar with Daddy Long Legs who too, at 7/1 is grossly underpriced considering what he has actually done on the clock, and seems to have been priced up more on who is connections are, as opposed to what he has actually done.

Kinglet has done nothing wrong so far, winning the UAE 2000 Guineas in a fair time, he is looking to complete the double here but I do worry his ability to stay this longer trip given how keenly he can race throughout his races. He is ridden by Frankie Dettori who is likely to hold him up and come with a late effort, but he will need all the luck in-running.

Helmet comes across from Australia with plenty going for him, but has been disappointing on his last couple of outings. He looked like he’d really go on to big things after beating Manawanui in the Caulfield Guineas but he just hasn’t gone forward from that. Kerrin McEvoy hasn’t been helped by the draw out in 14 either, and the talented Aussie rider will need to use all his magic to get this head-case home in front.

Red Duke is bred to go well on this sort of surface, and has solid form in the book. He has been given a tough draw out wide, but he is a tough durable horse and my guess is he’ll be plenty fit enough for his seasonal return.

Lucky Chappy has been all the race with the American’s ahead of this event, but he hasn’t really done it on the clock until a fair effort last time, and there is a case to put him forward at 16/1 but there is something about him I just don’t like, but can’t put my finger on what exactly.

Entifaadha looked so promising in the early stages of his career but has disappointed the last twice. William Haggas reaches for the blinkers for the first time, and that could work the oracle on a clearly talented individual.

Two which take my eye are Genten, and Maritimer and I’m struggling really to split the pair. The former came second to one of the smartest three-year-olds in Japan on his most recent start at Tokyo, and is crying out for the extra yardage being offer in this race tomorrow, he is a massive price at 33/1. The latter clocked a few decent Beyer’s last backend at Woodbine, and providing he has progressed for the switch to Herman Brown he is overpriced here at 25/1 given the data I have before me – and I’ll be having a saver on him at the prices.

Finally Balada Sale comes into this as an unknown quantity, and like Helmet has the advantage of being bred in the Southern-Hemisphere and should be more forward than most for trainer Pascal Bary.

Upgraded to Group 1 status this year, and is race which has already attracted a good competitive field and this year is no different.

This race always signals the start of the turf races on World Cup Night, and has been won twice by J J The Jet Plane.

This field looks stacked with plenty of pace with a heap of course and distance winners in the line-up should ensure this is a very fast and competitive renewal.

Addictive Dream won a couple of early turf races at the Carnival in decent times for Dandy Nicholls, and returns to that surface after a failure on Tapeta last time. He will be given an attacking ride by son Adrian, and will be in the shake up.

Another who will be up there throughout is Nocturnal Affair who has shown improved form for the fitting of a tongue-strap and would like the ground quicker the better. He has some rather excellent figures in his locker, and looks sure to play a hand in the finish.

Monsieur Joe is quirky but very good, and has somewhat been rejuvenated by current trainer Robert Cowell, he will be played late and gets the assistance of one of the best riders of sprint races in Pat Cosgrave.

Regally Ready winner of the Breeders Cup Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs last year, made a very moderate debut appearance at the track earlier in the month. He’ll need to improve stacks on that to feature tomorrow night, but he is a high class animal and needs to dominate.

Prohibit will be suited to any fast fractions, and will be running on through horse late and is ridden by the excellent Jim Crowley who gets on well with him. Johnny Murtagh renews his partnership with Sole Power who looked the winner for a long way last time out, but was collared up the inside by Invincible Ash and Jamie Spencer. Sole Power loves a strong pace, and runs best when getting it, clocking some huge speed figures in the process and looks sure to play a hand in the finish.

Two which take my eye are August Rush who ran well on Tapeta last time behind Krypton Factor, and the switch back to turf and dropped to five furlongs could work the oracle, he is overpriced at 22/1. The second to take my eye is Eagle Regiment who is bred on exactly the same line as sprinting hero Silent Witness (El Moxie x Bureaucracy Mare) was. He has won two good races over the minimum distance and ran well for a long way behind Joy And Fun over six furlongs last time out, he holds solid claims at around 10/1.

A race in which Hong Kong trained Rocket Man is looking to retain his title after an imperious success in this race last year. A couple of people I have spoken to (one of them being @DavidHaddrell) believe he isn’t as good as he once was, and is starting to decline.

I am not so sure. His rating when winning this race last year puts him with a clear advantage over these, he is drawn on the inside and looks sure to go and sit handy before putting in a telling burst of acceleration turning for home.

According to my figures his biggest danger is the Bob Baffert trained The Factor who is drawn in the centre of the track, and will go forward from the gates. He has posted a couple of decent successes in his last two efforts, and clocked a career best Beyer figure of 106 two runs ago, and backed that up with a 104 last time.

Just behind those is Lucky Nine who is birthed out in the widest stall, Giant Ryan who clocked well when winning the Vosburgh but raced on the bias and bombed out at Churchill Downs last time.

Hitchens and Krypton Factor are next best, but I struggle to believe either of these are good enough to take out this Group 1 prize, and although they’ve clocked good numbers I just can’t have them.
Which leaves me with the unknown of Sepoy. He is one of the smartest sprinters I have ever seen, topped only by Black Caviar and possibly Dayjur. His weight carrying performance last time in the Oakleigh Plate was a fabulous effort and he could be completely different class to these tomorrow. He is unraced on the Tapeta though which is a worry, but has the assistance of the excellent Kerrin McEvoy in the plate.

A tough race really with one I haven’t got a real opinion about. I expect Rocket Man to win it really, but couldn’t rule out The Factor under Raphael Bejrano, and then throw in the unknown of Sepoy it quickly becomes a ‘watching’ race for me.

No horse has managed to retain their crown back-to-back since the inception of this race in 1996, so it makes Presvis task a mammoth one, considering he comes here off the back of two disappointing efforts this campaign. The draw isn’t much of a problem given his running style, and there looks to be more pace here than what he has had to run at on his last two outings.

City Style has shown improved form this campaign and comes into this off the back of solid placed efforts behind both Musir and Master Of The Hounds but I struggle to see him being good enough to get involved here.

Wigmore Hall returns here after finishing third behind Presvis in 2011. He made a reasonable return in a race which was fairly tactical and he struggle to land a blow at any point, but that would have blown away with cobwebs with a view to a tilt at this coveted prize.

Dubawi Gold I’m not sure will stay, and hasn’t been helped by the draw either and if I’m honest I don’t think he is good enough to win this either. Same can be said of Rio De La Plata apart from knowing he will stay, he is getting on in years and doesn’t look the force of old.

Cityscape is an admirably consistent sort for trainer Roger Charlton and really deserves to land a Group 1 prize, however I think this trip will stretch him and he’ll be running on empty inside the final furlong – really do wish him well though, a lovely horse.

Dark Shadow is a big dark horse in this race, and one I expect to go very close under Yuichi Fukunaga. He has solid form with Tosen Jordan and Hiruno D’Amour and looks to be running in the first-time cheekpieces which could make all the difference.

I’m not too au fait with the form of Ambitious Dragon, California Memory and Xtension but I am informed by a very good judge that he fully expects Ambitious Dragon to sluice up, but the price does absolutely nothing for me. Xtension was decent over in the UK and he could have improved for the switch to Hong Kong but you’d struggle to see him winning a race of this nature if I’m brutally honest.
I don’t think Delegator will stay nine furlongs in a horse box let alone running it, so he too is passed over. Green Destiny has clocked some massive times on the turf last season, and promises to win a big prize like this but he’ll need to improve heaps off the back of a lacklustre comeback effort behind Capponi on Tapeta last time.

Rajsaman is a good horse but simply isn’t good enough, and Await The Dawn has questions to answer on his comeback run (and wants further) he can’t be backed with any confidence whatsoever.

Which leaves us with the De Kock pairing of Mutahadee and Musir. Mutahadee was set an impossible task in the Jebel Hatta last time and had previously lit up the clock with some impressive performances against lesser company. He has the assistance of Christophe Soumillon who is either brilliant, or painfully bad with no in-between and is priced about right at his current odds. Then you’ve got Musir who although he has proven himself as an immense synthetic horse, gets the assistance of Kevin Shea and has proven himself to be equally adept on turf throughout his career. His speed figure in the Rashidiya was nothing special, but had previously proved his wellbeing in hacking up over a mile in an electric time.

I think his current odds of 14/1 scream value, and with a good draw I think he’ll take some beating for Mike De Kock, and can hopefully give his trainer a third win in this race.

A select field for this Group 1 middle distance prize, won last year by the subsequently ill-fated Rewilding.

This is a classy renewal which sees Breeders Cup Turf winner St Nicholas Abbey kick off his seasonal campaign in pursuit of another Group 1 success to add to his increasing tally.

Aidan O’Brien also saddles Treasure Beach who’s form actually reads a lot better than it looks. He was ridden far too forcefully in the Grand Prix De Paris, and was flogged as a pacemaker in the Arc De Triomphe. I see him developing until a high class middle distance colt this season, and expect him to go close in this under the excellent Jamie Spencer.

Despite a good second last time Cavalryman looks pitched in too deep against this sort of company, and the same can be said of Jakkalberry. Shimraan is another who despite cutting out a favourable impression last backend, has disappointed on his two outings in Dubai thus far.

Cirrus Des Aigles needs to return to form that saw him land the Champion Stakes (Group 1) at Ascot last season, and was handed a shock defeat at Chantilly last time by World Cup aspirant Zazou. He is no doubt a top class performer but I do question his ability to stay a mile and a half against top class opposition, and he the petrol gage could be running on empty inside the final furlong.

Mahbooba clocked a massive time when beating Laajooj over nine furlongs, but was beaten in a muddling race over a mile next time (when I backed her at short odds). She returned to form last time with a good success, but although she won over this distance at Newmarket last year, it was against muppets and I worry about her ability to last out this sort of trip at the highest grade.

Bold Silvano is another who has disappointed this season, and couldn’t carry forth any real confidence heading into such a race, and could pick up some place money.

Beaten Up is a horse I hold in the highest regard, and is one I am adamant will win a Group 1 before the end of the season. Quite whether he will be streetwise enough for this first time back remains a question, especially being so lightly raced in comparison to his rivals, and he doesn’t really represent much value at his current odds.

Which leaves me with Songcraft, which readers of my blog will see I put him forward as a potential for this race when he beat Belgian Bill three runs ago. He is a high class horse who has had problems travelling through his races in the past, but it’s interesting to see that Saeed Bin Suroor has reached for the first-time headgear in the shape of a visor, and that could work the oracle under the masterful Silvestre De Sousa, and he too wasn’t suited by the make-up of the race last time. He is massively overpriced at 20/1, and is worth considering in an otherwise open and competitive heat.

One of the strongest renewals of this race I think I’ve ever seen, it looks like having plenty of pace in unlike what happened last year.

Historically on World Cup Night all the top grade races turn into tactical affairs and thus giving those who like to sit up with the pace a significant advantage but with plenty who like to go forward in this race, it could look to go with something with a high cruising speed, that’ll sit just off the pace.

Smart Falcon who comes here off the back of a winning streak of 9, stretching back to September 2010 looks likely to put the pace to the race under Yutaka Take. He has a formidable record on dirt in his native Japan, and that form usually transfers well onto the Tapeta out in Dubai (Victoire Pisa, Transcend last year). He has said to have lost 20kg in transit over to the UAE, and that is far from ideal, and I expect something to run him down in the straight.

So You Think is a tough durable sort who probably didn’t right the heights those expected of him last season. However he posted some immense speed figures throughout the campaign and highlighted himself as a top class racehorse. He returns for another campaign this season and is drawn well, and it’s impossible to expect anything but a good run from this great bull of a horse.

It is quite amazing to see how much Capponi has improved since being out in Dubai. Going from just a handicap winner at Doncaster a couple of seasons ago, to easily winning the Al Maktoum Challenge 3rd Round (Group 1) last time is some feat by trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni, and from the speed figures I have in-front of me, I fully expect a bold show from this really likeable son of Shamardal.

Quite why Frankie Dettori has chosen Prince Bishop over both Capponi and Mendip is somewhat of a mystery, as what I have before me suggests it can’t win, despite an impressive first time out performance here three starts ago, he has been readily held since and I can’t see how he can reverse form.

Game On Dude despite a second-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic needs to improve to feature here, and his career best Beyer figure of 102 leaves him a short-way off what is required to win this race, but is ridden by an absolute darling in Chantal Sutherland.

Silver Pond ran well first time up on synthetics, he came second to Capponi but wasn’t catching him as the line came so it’s hard to see how he can reverse that level of form, but has a great jockey in Johnny Murtagh booked.

Royal Delta isn’t good enough, and despite looking like he would be Master Of The Hounds doesn’t look to be good enough either based on his performances this campaign. I did think after his comeback run behind Mendip he would do so much better than he has, and perhaps he’ll come right tomorrow night but I can’t possibly have him.

Planteur is very much an unknown and brings forward an infallible first time out record (111) and is now in the care of one of the shrewdest trainer in the business in the shape of Marco Botti. That said I genuinely can’t find a reason why he can win this race, and has been somewhat of a disappointment from what he promised as a three-year-old.

Zazou comes into this an unknown quantity after smashing Cirrus Des Aigles on the polytrack at Chantilly and remains unbeaten on that surface. His turf form while very decent wasn’t exceptional and it could be that being a son of Shamardal he might find the artificial surfaces more to his liking and that last win reads very well, but I’m still a little suspect in regards the level of his ability.

Monterosso was third in this race last year and made a reasonable comeback behind Capponi last time. He is expected to tighten up plenty for the run, and wouldn’t be without a shout (would of gone close last year) and has to be respected, given he’s stamina assured and will be finishing late under Mickael Barzalona.

Eishin Flash is another with a massive chance in this race, after initially showing big promise as a three-year-old he hasn’t won for a while, but his second place to the mighty Orfevre in the Arima Kinen showed the fires still burn brightly in this one. Bred to go well on this surface, he is of high interest on my list and can see him taking plenty of beating.

Finally my idea of the winner is Mendip. Believe it or not he is an absolutely unreal value bet at the current odds of 33/1. Forget about his last run when posting a below par effort (he banged his right hind on the starting gates) and although passed okay to run by the veterinary officer he never looked happy. His run before that posted a massive speed figure when readily accounting for Master Of The Hounds and Prince Bishop suggesting he still has the ability to win a big race like this after promising so much.

His run before that he looked like he’d come on heaps for and was slightly unruly at the start so you can forgive him that effort too. His form figures on synthetics without these two blips read impressively (1113111). I think he is an insane price despite his awkward draw out wide, and he can take a mid-division position and stalk the likely strong pace. He gets the assistance of the brilliant Silvestre De Sousa and he can guide him home to victory at huge odds.

The Duke’s Value Bets:
1pt each-way Barbican @ 10-1 with Betfred, Totesport, PaddyPower
0.5pt each-way Genten @ 33-1 with Bet365, PaddyPower, Coral
0.5pt each-way Maritimer @ 25-1 with BetVictor
0.5pt each-way August Rush @ 25-1 with PaddyPower
1pt win Nocturnal Affair @ 11-1 with PaddyPower
1pt win Eagle Regiment @ 11-1 with Bet365
1pt each-way Musir @ 14-1 with Boylesports, Betfred, PaddyPower
1pt each-way Songcraft @ 18-1 with PaddyPower
1pt each-way Mendip @ 33-1 with Bet365, Boylesports, Ladbrokes
1pt win Eishin Flash @ 14-1 with Bet365, Boylesports, Betfred, SportingBet [/notification_box]


Dubai Racing Carnival – 16th February 2012

This afternoon sees the return of the Dubai Carnival at Meydan for the ninth meeting of the campaign, and this is certainly one of the trickiest and most competitive cards I have come across in recent weeks, but I believe there are a couple of bets to be had here.

The last meeting here saw us round off the day with a profit of (+8.88) to advised stakes and prices, and I had toyed with the idea of tipping up Mendip before deciding against doing so, and as the law of sod dictates – he won.

We kick things off at (2:30) with a handicap over a mile on the Tapeta and this is definitely one of the trickiest handicaps I have come across whilst previewing the Carnival meetings for the blog, but one thing I can be sure of the race is likely to be run at a solid tempo. With the likes of The Rectifier, Navajo Chief and a couple of others in the line up that like to go forward, it is a really tough race to get a handle on but wouldn’t be surprised to see Red Gulch or Yaa Wayl there at the finish. However it is impossible to form a solid opinion about the race and is best left alone from a punting perspective in my opinion.

Moving swiftly on to the (3:05) and things really don’t get much easier, as this is another race that delivers us a puzzle which is near enough indecipherable. A race which sees Mike De Kock’s South African import Anaerobio switch back to the Tapeta after a couple of solid efforts on turf recently. The added distance should be another factor likely to suit him but he has been far from convincing away from grass in his previous efforts and I’ve formed an opinion that he is a better horse on turf. Strictly on my figures it looks between Nationalism and Prince D’Alienor although I’d be taking a slight risk on the French horse as that rating behind Iguazu Falls last time wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. He does however have the fact he is unbeaten on all-weather in two attempts, and switched back to Tapeta after a recent blow out on turf suggests he is primed to run well, but whether he is up to beating Nationalism is anyone’s guess, and I’d probably narrowly favour Nationalism under Frankie Dettori but this is another race I would simply watch, rather than bet in.

The third race on the card (3:45) is an excellent handicap on the turf which see’s recent Al Shindagha fourth Captain Obvious, top the weights back on turf for the first time after a couple of solid efforts on Tapeta, but the grey would need to put up his best performance yet to win off top weight against classy rivals but it wouldn’t be out of the question.

One thing I am fairly confident about is that the former Michael Stoute trained Dux Scholar needs more distance to be seen at his best; this looks like a prep-run for something over a longer distance and is worth keeping an eye on. Five Cents has been improving rapidly this season on his second season out in Dubai winning a string of races at Jebel Ali but he hasn’t been so good here and a mark of 107 will make things difficult for him.

Rerouted ran big last time behind Hitchens in the Al Shindagha and ran the fastest closing sectional in the race out of the whole field after being out with the washing turning in. The return to turf and a longer distance here will certainly suit him, and he does have good turf speed figures in his locker from his juvenile season to suggest he has very solid claims off a very low weight, but a wide draw and the enigma that is Christophe Soumillon on top could make things difficult.

If this race was on Tapeta I would have to give a solid chance to Tamaathul who has come right back to the form he promised since being fitted with the tongue-strap but there is a question mark over if he is as good on turf as he is on the synthetics and he isn’t helped by the draw either.

On a tenuous line through Super Easy, The Comedian has form to go very close with Captain Obvious getting 9lb in the weights and is another import from Singapore that has potential to run big first time up. Last time out he defeated the yards Al Fahidi Fort runner Always Certain by 3.25L in receipt of 15lb and looks to be thriving at present, and with the first time tongue-strap applied to his usual blinkers you have to expect him to be on the scene late in the day under Vlad Duric.

One final angle worth looking at here is the class angle in the race Delegator who despite racking up a few respectable wins in his career to date has been somewhat a disappointment after early promise shown at three. However when you look into his form a pattern emerges, suggesting the horse is at his very best on his first outing off a layoff. If you take his runs off a break of 3 months or more his figures improve to (111) each of those runs coming on his seasonal re-appearance. He does however have to put behind him two rather abysmal runs but he will be primed to run well today one would imagine and can slot in from a wide draw.

All of this presents a rather large conundrum, of which I’m not sure I have the answer and although I’d initially harboured thoughts about a small play on Tamaathul, my attentions then switched to The Comedian through Captain Obvious, and then the freshness angle on Delegator confused me further, all in which my knowledge of these situations tells me to sit back and enjoy the race, from a non-financial point of view.

Back onto the Tapeta for race four at (4:20) which see’s Swedish raider Verde-Mar top the weights off a rating of 110. His rating here last year behind Our Giant would give him a squeak but nothing more, and has a real task on hand to give away weight and a beating to these rivals, let alone doing it from stall 13.

Looking through there appears to be plenty in way of pace, and you can expect the likeable grey As De Trebol to blast out given his usual ‘point and shoot’ running style, but he disappointed last time after going steady fractions in the early stages and needs to bounce back here.

Happy Dubai despite coming back to form at Jebel Ali last time is held on these terms by Reynaldothewizard who once again gets a good draw, and didn’t have the run of things in a conditions race behind Captain Obvious and posted the second fastest closing sectional in that race behind Hitchens, who went on to be successful in the Al Shindagha next time. They clearly have enough ability to be winning a handicap off this current rating of 108, and I feel he holds the aces over the remainder of the field.

Of the rest Ariete Arrollador looks likely to hit the places once again, but has it to find on the ratings with Reynaldothewizard and I don’t think 6lb is enough to stop the Satish Seemar trained six-year-old.

The (4:55) sees the best race on the card in the shape of the Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort, a race which brings back fond memories of the excellent Gladiatorus making all to win in style at Nad Al Sheba in 2009, before following up in the Dubai Duty Free on World Cup Night. This is a race I have had decent success in having backed last year’s winner Derbaas at double figure odds, sadly he couldn’t follow up like Gladiatorus did on World Cup Night but ran a respectable race in defeat.

It is a tough race to pick apart really with Master Of The Hounds probably topping the ratings with back-to-back performances on the clock, but he returns to turf for the first time since his juvenile days, and it is questionable if he is as good on the turf as opposed to synthetics and I’m not sure I have the answer.

Always Certain is a big price given the form of the Singapore imports so far, but he will find life difficult having to give away 5lb to this level of opposition which includes Viscount Nelson, who comes here after a solid second the ever impressive Mutahadee last time out. Strictly on my ratings he has it to find with a few of these and is underpriced in the market. I am surprised Rio De La Plata hasn’t been tried out here more given his owners patronage of the Dubai scene, but he was very disappointing here in the Zabeel Mile in 2010 and the first time cheek-pieces suggest the evergreen seven-year-old is thinking about things these days, and is seriously short at the head of the market.

Albaasil comes into this in good form after narrowly being denied by Dark Matter, but is 9lb worse off with Time Prisoner for 0.25L, and you’d have to expect the son of Elusive Quality to reverse that form with a more tactically astute ride. There is a question mark over whether he’ll stay the extra furlong here running a mile for the first time, but I can’t see any reason why not after an attacking ride last time out, and he should be about 5-1 which makes his current price of 15-2 value.

Maraheb clocked a big rating for his latest win on Tapeta; following up a similarly big rating behind Capponi on his race previous (watch out for Nationalism earlier on the card). He is unexposed on turf but I can’t see him improving much on that last effort given how sternly he was ridden to the line, and he is likely to come up just short at this level I think but is a big price at 14-1 should he improve.

One which really catches my eye though is Derbaas, who gets to run back on turf for the first time since his comeback run when third to Mahbooba in January beaten 6.5L. In my experience Derbaas isn’t a horse that runs his best fresh and usually takes a few runs to come right so his proximity to Mahbooba and Laajooj in what was a very quick time reads really well considering he had been off for almost a year. He has since followed up with two solid runs which have posted big figures on the Tapeta but he is arguably a better horse on grass according to my figures.

He is looking to defend his crown having won this race last year, and posted a rather excellent speed figure in the process. I think he will be primed to run to around that level over what without doubt is his trip and is an excellent price at 11-1, and his prominent racing style should negate his bad draw.

The closing race on the card at (5:30) is another race on the turf, this time a ten furlong handicap with the class angle Shimraan heading the weights under Frankie Dettori. A repeat performance of that third placing behind Byword and Cirrus Des Aigles could turn this into a rout and is a very dangerous prospect in a typical competitive handicap.

The question is just how forward Shimraan is for this outing, and is he being aimed at something more valuable on World Cup Night? Something like the Sheema Classic looks most likely but he is difficult to get a real handle on.

Quick Wit posted a big figure when winning over this course and distance last time, and did it with some authority too under today’s pilot Silvestre De Sousa. He has risen 5lb for that run, and is clearly still improving at the age of five and his turf form is far superior to his synthetics (21121) – he holds Fallen Idol on that outing and I can see him confirming form again, but he is priced about right in the market.
Al Shemali ran well back on turf last time to finish third behind Quick Wit and is weighted to go close again here. He was a Dubai Duty Free winner in his day and although not getting any younger at the age of eight, it would be churlish to rule him out.

Treble Jig comes into this contest off the back of being (to my knowledge) the first horse ever to complete the Jebel Ali Stakes, Jebel Ali Mile double and won both races with some authority over really good horses. The form of his last win has been boosted by Haatheq running a close second to Mendip in an electric speed figure and if Wayne Smith can harness this free-going sort into a nice rhythm at the head of affairs, he is sure to go very well – despite there being a bias against front-running sorts on the turf track at Meydan.

Finally my selection Belgian Bill comes back onto the turf track after disappointing behind Capponi on the Tapeta last time (Maraheb would be a good pointer to his chances). However his run prior to that over this course and distance behind Songcraft (since repeated that rating to win again). He is 2lb higher for that run which put him forward is a potential Group 2 performer, and off a mark of 104 with a favourable draw and a good pace to track he really should be going close here under Ted Durcan.

My Bets:
1pt win Derbaas @ 14-1 with Bet365
1pt win Belgian Bill @ 16-1 with Ladbrokes [/notification_box]


Dubai Racing Carnival – 9th February 2012

It has been a while since I last put together a piece on the Dubai Carnival (#DRC) over at Meydan (#Meydan) so with half an hour of spare time I thought I’d give tomorrows card of simply excellent racing a second look.The six race card featuring three group races including the UAE 2000 Guineas, opens with the Dubal Casthouse Trophy Handicap at (3:05). A race run on Tapeta over eleven furlongs, the forecasted favourite Jamr has every chance of following up recent win over this course and distance and is looking to take his record in the UAE to 4 from 4. He is now 4lb higher than for that success last time and was given an excellent ride by Pat Cosgrave who kicked for home some way out before having just enough to hold off Measuring Time in an all-out drive to the line – an excellent judgement of pace.The Mubarak Bin Shafya trained four-year-old faces stiff opposition once again, this time in the shape of Godolphin trio Spring Of Fame, Holberg and Honour System. Strictly on form Honour System is held by Spring Of Fame on their run at the Carnival last year with the latter getting an 11lb swing in the weights for a beating of 1.5L, and although he kept on well enough under Mikael Barzalona last time I wasn’t too impressed with how lethargic he seemed in the early stages, which culls any excitement about forming a position on him. It is also difficult to get a line on just how ready Holberg will be for this tomorrow after a really long layoff when tailing off at Ascot back in June.

Of the remainder Sirvino brings forward Jamr form on their last meeting but I can’t see him reversing form with the son of Singspiel based on that, although this will only be his second run off the turf so is capable of improving. One final mention is worth giving to Ottoman Empire who brings forward some rather excellent speed figures from the polytrack and fibresand over here in the UK, and made a pleasing return from a mammoth 436-day layoff when a little keen on his UAE debut on the turf behind Naqshabban. You would expect him to come on plenty for that outing and is an interesting proposition back on this sort of surface, and wouldn’t be a forlorn hope in any form of the imagination.

After we have witnessed the opening race we then get our first taste of the classy stuff on the card as we have the UAE 2000 Guineas (Group 3) up at (3:45). With firms slow to price up this race (nobody has done as yet) I am drawn to forming my judgements off the Racing Post forecast with a view to what the likely prices will be.

Dark Matter helps head the market as joint-favourite with Kinglet, but as I alluded to in my previous blog about this race, Kinglet made up an incredible amount of ground from an unpromising position and accelerated into a quickening pace, making him a theoretical moral 5.5L winner using the data provided by Trakus. I have him recording his final 200m split in 11.62sec (also from Trakus), and given that Dark Matter had the run of the race, and has since gone on to frank that form winning a handicap off 110 recently – makes Kinglet a very solid betting proposition tomorrow, with no apparent excuses to add to Rassam either.

After Kinglet (hopefully) wins the 2000 Guineas it’s onto the turf track for third race of the card, and a top class handicap over the course and distance of the Dubai Sheema Classic scheduled to jump at (4:20).

Joshua Tree tops the weights off a mark of 113, and William Buick will have to use all of his powers in the saddle to get his head in front off that weight in what is an open contest. The Mike De Kock trained Irish Flame is next in and he too will need to improve on what we have seen of him so far.

The two which catch my attention are from the trio of Godolphin runners in the shape of Songcraft and Laajooj. I was impressed with the way Songcraft won over a couple of furlongs shorter the last day, and he will improve for the extra distance also. I had him pencilled in as a potential Sheema Classic horse so he’d need to be winning this off a mark of 110 to put those dreams into reality and Silvestre De Sousa is the man entrusted with the steering once again.

Laajooj also boasts similarly good ratings and although from a speedily-bred dam, has shown he isn’t short of stamina so is worth a try over this longer trip. All in all this race is really tough to get a handle on and although forming a narrow preference for Songcraft his projected price isn’t really enough to be tempting me into parting with my cash, so I’ll be a watcher rather than a player on this I reckon.

Following that is a Group 3 over a mile scheduled for (4:55), and a race in which sees the return of the well-regarded Mike De Kock trained Bold Silvano. The son of Silvano created a big impression when readily accounting for his field when landing the second leg of the Maktoum Challenge, and although the form hasn’t really worked out since with those in-behind gracing the winners’ enclosure just twice from 36 attempts, you have to think this classy recruit is a class above that level of competition anyway. He has been kept off the track with injury since that run, but reports coming from those close to Mike De Kock suggest he has been showing the right signs in his homework and is ready to roll tomorrow afternoon.

Should Bold Silvano fail to show any semblance of his previous ability then the race is likely to fall to the likes of either African Story or Derbaas who are both capable of running good figures on this surface which would give them every chance of snatching success.

Next up at (5:30) is Round 2 of the Al Maktoum Challenge, a group 3 event over 9.5 furlongs and sees the Mike De Kock trained Master Of The Hounds head the market at 9-4 (Bet365, WilliamHill). The four-year-old son of Kingmambo made eye-catching late headway down the centre of the track from an impossible position to finish second to stable-mate Musir in Round 1, and looks sure to go close with the extra distance here to play to his strengths.

Pisco Sour has his first run for Godolphin and is likely to race up with the pace, and is one I can see being suited to how races are run out here but has yet to prove his ability over this Tapeta surface and is one I can’t get excited about getting involved in. Dubai Prince is another who is bred to go well on this sort of surface being a son of Shamardal but is another to have yet raced over anything other than a turf surface, and needs to put behind him a lacklustre effort at Ascot when last seen.

I am firmly of the belief that Prince Bishop is overrated and his price of 7-2 and massively overestimates his chances of taking this and despite his wide-margin success over Spring Of Fame when last seen the time was only ordinary.

One which is worth giving another chance to is the Saeed Bin Suroor trained Mendip who providing he can put behind a disappointing effort last time is a massive price at 9-1. He has some of the fastest figures I’ve awarded horses out here in Dubai (Musir is the other), so his running last time can’t be his true form and it could be he wasn’t quite fully wound for that assignment. The distance shouldn’t be a problem, he has won over it and the time he came third in the UAE Derby (btn 3L by Musir) he raced a lot closer to the pace than the front two and was slightly hampered when making his effort so can be upgraded from that, his only other try at this sort of trip was on turf (a strange idea).

Ultimately it looks like a race which should go to Master Of The Hounds given his previous efforts over this surface and ground but write Mendip off at your peril, and I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if Mendip went very close in this contest under Kieren Fallon.

Finally we are left with the (6:05) a nine furlong handicap on turf and one in which Mutahadee heads the market after an impressive display over this course and distance when last seen (he absolutely blitzed the last furlong in 10.54sec) and suggested he could have won by even further had his jockey wanted him too – a rather taking performance.

A race which I think the form is worth a second look at comes from Blue Panis’ win over a mile on the same day Mutahadee won and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see an improved performance from Navajo Chief this time equipped with a better draw. Drawn wide the last day Kieren Fallon blew his absolute brains out getting him to the lead, and the horse simply had nothing in reserve as they challenged upsides two furlongs out. Masteroftherolls is another graduate from that formline and he looks to have a solid chance off exactly the same mark given he had the remainder beaten, and looks sure to run well again under Mikael Barzalona – at 13-2 he is about the most attractive proposition in the race, and if repeating that last run would take an act of god to get him out the frame.

Secrecy was no match for Musir when last seen in Round 1 of the Al Maktoum Challenge and reverts to turf here to try his luck. He is a tough horse to get a handle on as strictly on his UK form you wouldn’t expect him to be winning this rated 109 especially on my speed ratings but that was a good run behind Musir last time and he isn’t without his chances.

All in all it wouldn’t be a surprise were Mutahadee to win this with a degree of comfort, but off top weight against experienced top-drawer handicappers the current odds of 9-4 really doesn’t get the juices flowing. At a larger price I think Masteroftherolls at 13-2 rates a better bet, and can even give a very small mention to outsider Navajo Chief with a better draw this time round.

[notification_box]Overnight Bets:
1pt each-way Masteroftherolls @ 13-2 with Ladbrokes, WilliamHill [/notification_box]


[notification_box]Morning Bets:
3pts win Kinglet @ Highest Available Morning Price [/notification_box]


Dubai Racing Carnival – 26th January 2012

Today sees another instalment of the excellent Dubai Racing Carnival (#DRC) over at Meydan, and there is plenty of competitive action to get our teeth into. A meeting like this is really appreciated by us flat fans at this time of year, especially with the current dross on offer on the home front it helps warm the cockles and brings April that little bit closer.

I didn’t expect much from Ariete Arrollador last time, but the son of Kingsalsa travelled extremely well on the inside rail, and looked like throwing down a challenge to Barbecue Eddie at one point until flattening out inside the final furlong. The time for the race was fairly respectable, and you’d expect him to go pretty close this afternoon based on that effort from a decent draw.

Strictly on figures the race is topped by Silaah based on his rating behind Captain Obvious last time, but I just can’t see him being able to give away weight to this field off a mark of 105, and is more likely to lead them in and weaken on the approach to the final furlong as the weight begins to tell. Another which will go well dropped back in trip is Krypton Factor who undoubtedly got the run of the race last time up behind Iguazu Falls but has posted some good figures on the Tapeta in the past, and back down to six ought to suit him, but is most likely to find one or two too good for him.

In the next race (3:20) and I really like the claims of As De Trebol, who is massively overpriced in this at around 7-1. Third in the Burj Nahaar last year behind Mendip on the Tapeta, the time clocked for that race was brilliant and would give As De Trebol a favourite’s chance of winning this, if you can forgive him his run in the Godolphin Mile (went off too quick) then he looks a solid proposition back on the Tapeta for the first time.

Last time out on the turf and his first run in Dubai he set an absolutely outrageous pace with the Mubarak Bin Shafya trained Iguazu Falls. They’re miles clear on the approach into the straight and As De Trebol quickens away from that horse travelling extremely well. He continued to roll up until around the furlong marker, until Time Prisoner comes through and picks him off and the closers begin to reel him in inside the final furlong, to eventually finish fourth.

Iguazu Falls was well beaten in the end, but came out and won next time out at 25-1, beating Krypton Factor who has posted some good figures for me at the Carnival last year, so I think it is worth upgrading this run of As De Trebol given his jockey blew his brains right across the desert.

Hopefully Borja Fayos can ride the grey son of Tapit with a little more restraint on the front end and with more tactical nous and I think he’ll go very, very close. Should he go off too quick, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Spectacle Du Mars pick up the pieces with a sustained late burst, and he is too big at 16-1 in the current market.

Next up at (4:00) is a competitive seven furlong handicap on the turf which see’s last time out impressive winner Time Prisoner returns to do battle. He has to give away weight to 2000 Guineas Trial winner Dark Matter, but I really think that horse was a beneficiary of how the race panned out the last day, and arguably would have been beaten by Kinglet, had that got a better run at things.

Time Prisoner is having to give away 8lbs to Dark Matter, but on my figures he should be up to doing just that and although I think he will win there is no value in his price at 7-4 (Boylesports).

Next up the (4:40) and a handicap back on Tapeta where if Belgian Bill can produce his latest turf effort should make this pretty much a formality. His speed figure last time was that of a group class animal and has only been raised 2lbs for that effort, and considering he has ran well on all-weather before you’d have to think he’ll have no problems with the Tapeta surface.

One I expect a better run from is Nationalism who was given no chance by Ajtebi last time out, but kept on eye-catchingly well into the straight down the widest outside and narrowly missed out on third place behind Rostrum. He is untried on all-weather/Tapeta and is potentially the type of horse that’ll go well on it, he has his chances at around 12-1, and is a few points overpriced in my view.

Sarrsar is unbeaten on the all-weather and ran well to run down Capponi last time (who had run of race and no excuses) but the time of that contest suggests they’ll have to improve rapidly to feature with the principles in this, and as such they are massively underpriced.

Up at (5:15) is the Al Rashidiya which sees Musir return after an imperious success on the Tapeta last time. Trying turf this time he has to give away 3lb to Presvis the Dubai Duty Free Winner from 2011, and the pair are very closely matched on my numbers. I think at the prices Presvis would be a better bet of the two but neither price makes me want to get involved really, so I’m going to sit back and just enjoy the contest – I also expect a big run from Win For Sure at around 16-1, and he could rank as an each-way alternative to the front two.

Finally we round things off at (5:50) with a handicap on the turf where Fallen Idol is priced up as 3-1 favourite. I said something similar last week with Naqshabban being the most ridiculous price I’d ever seen at Meydan and it ended up winning but I think this one is very similar in levels of ridiculousness.
His best form as come on right-handed tracks hasn’t looked the quickest of individuals and generally doesn’t win very often yet somehow has found himself at the head of the market here – I’d be looking at taking him on for sure.

There are a couple of alternatives in this in the shape of Rostrum (4-1) and Al Shemali (12-1) and I’ll take one of the two to get the job done here.

[notification_box]1pt win Ariette Arrollador @ 6-1 with Ladbrokes
2pt win As De Trebol @ 7-1 with Bet365, Ladbrokes
1pt win Belgian Bill @ 11-2 with William Hill
1pt win Nationalism @ 12-1 with William Hill. [/notification_box]


Dubai Racing Carnival – 20th January 2012

Today see’s more action from the excellent Dubai Racing Carnival (#DRC) at Meydan, starting earlier than usual at 11am (GMT) this time round.I’m afraid I am running a little late this morning so have to keep things pretty brief, and can’t go into the sorts of depths I was hoping to get into, hopefully you’ll be able to get enough information out of this to influence today’s betting opportunities.

The first race is too tricky really to be getting involved in, but Royal Destination is overpriced at 33-1, back over a more suitable trip it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise to see him run well – he has the figures in the book to do so.

My first bet of the day runs in the (11:35) where I am taking on the highly touted and much fancied stable-mate Prince Bishop, with Spring Of Fame. He has good form at the Carnival from last year and some really good speed figures in the book on Tapeta, he goes well fresh and I’m expecting a big run first time up.

My next interest comes in the (12:45), a conditions sprint over six furlongs. I’ve had a look through and my figures tell me it’s going to be difficult to split both Alo Pura and Reynaldothewizard, so I’m backing them both. Reynaldothewizard looks ready to run big second up off a break, and he did so over seven furlongs last season, whereas Alo Pura comes into this running the fastest time at Jebel Ali of the season on her most recent start, defeating in-form Mujaazef – she also has solid form at Meydan on the Tapeta and looks set for another big run.

The Cape Verdi Stakes is the feature race on the card, and the Group 2 event at (1:20) really should be going the way of Mahbooba. She exploded over an extra furlong last time up, and a repeat of that performance will see her destroy these and although I really get involved in backing short priced horses, she rated a pretty solid proposition at 8-13.

Finally the last race on the card (1:55) is a rather trappy handicap on the turf over a mile, whereby you can expect solid runs from both The Rectifier, Disa Leader and at the head of the market Start Right. However one takes my eye at a price, and despite the bad draw out wide, the style in which Navajo Chief runs in his race (prominent) should be able to overcome that draw and go very close off this mark at what is a massive price at 14-1.

Apologies for not being very in-depth today, got plenty of things I need to get done and not much time to do it in, hopefully a little more ‘together’ for tomorrow’s meeting.

[notification_box]My Bets:
1pt win Spring Of Fame @ 7-1 with Bet365, Boylesports
1pt win Alo Pura @ 7-1 with Bet365, Boylesports, Betfred
1pt win Reynaldothewizard @ 7-1 with Ladbrokes, Boylesports
3pts win Mahbooba @ 8-13 with William Hill
1pt win Navajo Chief @ 14-1 with Bet365, Ladbrokes[/notification_box]


Dubai Racing Carnival – Night 3 Roundup

Another good quality Meydan card for their third meeting of the Dubai Racing Carnival (#DRC), and without doubt the talk of the night was the explosive performance from MUSIR who got back to winning ways at The Carnival under Christophe Soumillon.

The six-year-old son of Redoute’s Choice put in a masterful performance on his first run back since his Veliefendi win in early September, and surely must have surprised even Mike De Kock with the manner of victory here – in a time just 0.08sec off the track record set by Skysurfers in 2011. Given the way he was ridden throughout the final furlong, it wouldn’t be insurmountable to suggest he could have set a new track record has he been ridden out to the line, but it is understandable with other targets in mind why Soumillon allowed him to coast home inside the final half furlong.

The performance that caught my eye was by that of stable-mate Master Of The Hounds, who hadn’t been seen since splashing through the mud in the Belmont Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park in the summer of 2011. He was a very good second here in the UAE Derby earlier in 2011 when narrowly worn down late by Khawlah, and judging by the run he posted here he has a major say in the outcome of the Dubai World Cup at the end of March.

Beaten just 3L by Musir in the end, Master Of The Hounds ran 9m further than his stable-mate which accounts for roughly 3.75L which given you’d expect Musir to be capable of pulling out a little extra under pressure would put these pair very close together indeed if both got ideal perfect trips.

A quick look back at the race replay footage on YouTube tells you just how big a performance Master Of The Hounds has put up to run second from as wide as he has, the remainder of the field seem to all (roughly) stay in the same position up the straight, on a day where the home straight at Meydan was riding like a scene of the travelator from Gladiators (thanks goes to Liam Kirk for that one).

My pace figures suggest Musir posted the best performance in the race overall, but Master Of The Hounds closed off the 6F -1M sectional the fastest in the race, and with an extra couple of furlongs and a better trip through the race, I think he is a live World Cup bet at this early stage – (16/1 StanJames, Bet365).

Earlier on the card there is little doubt in my mind that the Singapore raider Dark Matter stole the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial through the benefit of a perfect trip. Trained by Steven Burridge this win will provide great encouragement for fellow compatriots but I can’t see how this horse can get as good a trip as he did on Thursday, and until he does there is absolutely no way I can see him confirming form. [frame_right src=”” href=”#”]Dark Matter[/frame_right]

Ted Durcan rode the rail route aboard the son of Stratum, and had a perfect tow through from the free-going Rassam who raced with the choke out throughout. Once Rassam gave way at the furlong pole, Durcan allowed his mount to slip through up the inside and go and win his race off the back of very modest pace figures throughout – citing him the beneficiary of brilliant placing.

Watching back the replay it isn’t hard to be immediately drawn to Kinglet who was out with the washing being ridden along shortly before turning for home, but the way he has accelerated down the outside (particularly inside the last furlong) signalled to me that this horse is by far the best animal in the race, and that is also what my pace figures tell me. On my pace figures alone, Kinglet comes out on top by a margin of (+14) which may not seem like a lot, but when you factor in that he ran 14m further than the winner – which equates to around 5.5L, it is a somewhat brilliant performance to get as close as he did, especially given he ran the final furlong in 11.62sec (thanks Trakus).

I am extremely confident that Kinglet will turn out to be the best of these horses, and I fully expect him to account for the UAE 2000 Guineas when these next meet, and I wouldn’t rule out a possible tilt at the UAE Derby on World Cup Night in March perhaps?

Two other horses from the race which come out with some credit are both Prepared and Mickdaam, who finished 7th and 6th in the race come out 3rd and 4th best on my figures and I could see these horses taking a hand over further than this distance, and could both potentially pick up a decent handicap along the way.
[frame_right src=”” href=”#”]Naqshabban[/frame_right]

Away from these two principal races we had a couple of rather interesting middle distance handicaps on the turf, with the first of those being won by Naqshabban and Frankie Dettori. I had previously blogged the night before about what shocking value the 2-1 available price was for Naqshabban, but the way he won this suggests he will be winning more races at ‘The Carnival’.
Sat in roughly second place throughout off what was a pretty modest pace, he made his bid for glory shortly after turning into the straight and won the race a touch cosily in the end, outclassing his opposition with the benefit of a race run to suit his tactical position. A horse which caught my eye in this race was Emirates Champion, who has a pretty dire record on turf compared to Tapeta – but this was a really promising effort back in third. Considering he was towards the rear and making ground up the inside rail turning for home, but was hampered by Glens Diamond running into the rail, and had to re-gather his momentum after taking back on the heels of Glens Diamond before launching another effort up the home straight – plugging on into around a five length third at the wire.

If you take into account the trouble encountered, and where he was positioned in a tactically run affair, my pace figures suggest he could have pressed Jedi for second, and would probably have just taken it at the line – a return to Tapeta would be an interesting next move for this son of Haafhd but he is rated 10lb’s higher over it off 111, which makes life difficult for him, and rules out almost all handicap races.

The second of the two races of interest for me on the turf was the last race on the card, a handicap run over ten furlongs and won by the lightly-raced Songcraft who extended his unbeaten run to three. The manner in which this son of Singspiel recorded this victory suggested to me he isn’t going to be a handicapper for long, but he has been raised 5lb to 110 on both surfaces so has the option of taking in one more handicap for further education, before being pitched into group company. [frame_right src=”” href=”#”]Songcraft[/frame_right]

My pace figures for the race pretty much fall in uniform with the official result. The front pairing of Songcraft and Belgian Bill pretty much fall in-line with each other’s (very closely matched) until Songcraft put in a big final quarter mile and sealed the race with plenty of petrol in the tank.

I would expect both of these horses to go onto better things throughout the remainder of the Dubai Racing Carnival 2012, and a possible audacious tilt at the Dubai Sheema Classic wouldn’t be the worst suggestion on the cards for Songcraft, who clearly has plenty of class about him, in what will be an open year – but will he step forward and make himself known on a wider scale on his next start? We’ll have to wait and see!

Belgian Bill on the other hand has been raised 2lb for that effort to a mark of 104, which allows connections the opportunity to explore further handicap prizes before stepping him up in grade as the Carnival draws on. On the basis of this I see him as an absolute good thing for any handicap at around this distance, or possibly a furlong or so shorter – and would be strongly on his side when he next lines up (providing he isn’t a ridiculous price that is!).

Of the remainder I have to give a mention of Nationalism, who comes out third best on my ratings and after having a very slow start ran faster than Belgian Bill from 4 furlongs onwards, before clocking the fastest rating in the field between 6F-1M, and wasn’t far off Songcraft (-6) between 1M-1M2F and that is without factoring in that he ran wider round the last bend, and covered 9m more than the winner (approx. 2.25L), which would give him an honourable third placed position, narrowly ahead of Mikhail Glinka.

Trained now by Mahmood Al Zarooni, the Pivotal gelding remains of interest in his next couple of races providing he gets the right sort of trip to run at, and has been dropped 1lb off the back of that recent effort. I am almost certain he’ll take some beating in a similar handicap with better luck, and if he doesn’t win one he should go very close judged on this showing.

That is all for my views on the meeting from 12th January 2012. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this blog post and have hopefully gained a little extra insight into the racing over at Meydan.

For those of you on Twitter you can follow us @OHRacing, and for all things Meydan you can use the hashtags #Meydan, and also #DRC.

Thanks for reading.

Dubai Racing Carnival – 12th January 2012

We’re back at Meydan again on Thursday for the third meeting of the Dubai Racing Carnival, and we have the delights of a mix of competitive handicaps and the first round of the Al Maktoum Challenge, a group 3 over a mile – throw in a UAE 2000 Guineas trial and it is by far the best quality of racing on offer on what has been a very quiet week so far.

We kick things off in the (3:05) after the Arabian event, with a handicap over seven furlongs on the Tapeta. It is looking like Red Gulch is going to head the market running for Godolphin for the first time and I can see him going off plenty short enough – which paves the way for Barbecue Eddie, who is a course & distance winner and pretty much a standing dish around here.

He missed the break last time and was rushed up into an otherwise modest pace, and I think had he broke on terms he would have got a lot closer to Reynaldothewizard who in my eyes, is a very nice ‘dark’ horse to keep on side at the Carnival this season. Third placed Russian Rock then won easily (by 4.5L) next time up beating Firestreak (who then won a competitive handicap on turf next time) so the form is being franked left-right and centre, and will probably be a value price against horses with good British form.

Global City is another that could be dangerous if he gets into the race, and shouldn’t be overlooked if doing so.

We then switch to the turf for a competitive handicap over six furlongs at (3:45) and after going through my ratings this is one of the tightest races I’ve ever seen at the Carnival since it being switched to Meydan.

There is one or two points separating the whole field, and while I feel he is better at five furlongs Addictive Dream holds a favourites chance after seeing off my selection Nocturnal Affair last time with a front-running display. I can also see a big run coming from Bohemian Melody who looked an improving type in the first-time blinkers when last seen, he could go close also – as could Rock Jock at a potentially double figure price.

All in this entire race is just screaming to be watched instead of played, and I simply cannot get involved.

Back onto Tapeta for the (4:25) and for the UAE 200 Guineas Trial where Rassam has already been strongly supported on Betfair. An easy winner on his debut at Kempton, he is lightly raced and looked a class act when making a winning debut in November. A repeat of that performance would hold him in good stead here, but he is far too short. If Mehdi could reproduce his turf efforts over shorter trips on Tapeta for the first time one would expect him to go close, but in truth this is another race I’ll be watching rather than playing in.

The (5:00) is a turf handicap over twelve furlongs, and another race in which I’m struggling to form a solid opinion about anything. Emirates Champion would have been a confident enough selection had this been on the Tapeta but his grass form hasn’t really looked all that in amongst some impressive synthetic form – which is a worry.

Naqshabban in truth is probably the most likely winner after a switch to Mahmood Al Zarooni but you’d have to be completely mental to be getting involved in this one at 2-1. He has decent form in the book to date, but has to be the worst price I’ve seen about a runner potentially at the Meydan Carnival ever, and therefore cannot be backed.

Another race which I’m struggling with really, and I’m going to leave this one alone also – it could literally go twelve or so ways.

Finally! We have some class amongst some competitive handicaps, and that comes with the first round of the Al Maktoum Challenge at (5:35). The favourite Mendip holds a solid favourites chance, and is a worthy favourite from what my ratings tell me – but he is just a smidge too short on the prices. He is top-rated out of all of these on (113) but there isn’t much meat in his 9-4 price tag, and for that reason alone I’m forced to look elsewhere (I do really like the horse though), but I expect a big performance back on Tapeta after a wild decision to run him on grass when last seen.

Musir is another with solid claims in this trappy event, but I expect to be getting bigger than 7-2 about this one as well to be honest, and he is another I have to pass up purely on that basis.

I can envisage a big run coming from Master Of Hounds now switched to Mike De Kock, and a repeat of his UAE Derby form would put him in the mix here, he ran to (105) on my ratings that day, and certainly isn’t a forlorn hope at around 12-1 in a tough race, and could be one for the placings, despite seemingly being the second string.

One which I’m going to side with though purely on a value basis is Snaafy. A horse which let me down for a massive five figure payout at the Dubai World Cup in 2009, this veteran son of Kingmambo has posted some serious numbers on both conventional dirt and synthetic over the last few years and is a much better animal than on turf. He may be an eight-year-old nowadays, but he showed no signs of age catching him up with a solid display behind Mendip when last seen on the racecourse, and has shown proven ability to go well first time up off a layoff in the past. At 20-1 he is ridiculously overpriced, and has run to a rating of (109) in his most recent starts, and simply cannot be left alone with Tadgh O’Shea taking over from the increasingly useless Richard Hills.

Which then leaves us with our final race on the card at (6:15), and we’re back on the turf for a handicap over ten furlongs. There are two or three which I don’t hold ratings for (Songcraft, Rostrum and Happy Valley), but I’m pretty much guessing they wouldn’t be troubling the judge if I had in any case to be honest.

Alkimos is high up on the shortlist after a good performance at Ascot when last seen in the summer, and has been given plenty of time to freshen up and strengthen over the last six months or so. Sadly his price is absolutely ridiculous at around 2-1, and although he could prove too good for these, he has to be taken on.

Zain Shamardal doesn’t look good enough on the ratings I hold, and Summit Surge has to prove he retains all ability on the return from a long layoff of 418 days – and I couldn’t really be talked into backing either.

My first interest is Belgian Bill, who at a 14-1 (Ladbrokes) wouldn’t be a forlorn hope in this race, and only has a couple of points to improve upon to have a say in the finish here. He hasn’t been beaten far in majority of his races to date, and was a good second to Dordogne at Veliefendi when last seen. He should improve on his three-year-old career this year, and it wouldn’t be the greatest surprise to see him go close here.

The main one in this race that catches my eye is Nationalism, who simply is a massive price at 16-1. He has solid form in the book with The Rectifier from Windsor, and wasn’t beaten too far behind French Navy at Goodwood on his final run of the season.

That Windsor form has worked out exceptionally well with winners galore coming from it, and I’ve always thought Nationalism would be the type to improve for the hotter climates of Dubai and expect him to play a big hand in this with how races are run out here. The first run for Mahmood Al Zarooni is an interesting angle, and although he gets plenty of stick Ajtebi rides this circuit pretty much better than anyone on his day – and he can’t be left alone at a massive price.

My Bets:
1pt win Snaafy @ 20-1 with Bet365, Ladbrokes, William Hill
1pt win Nationalism @ 16-1 with Bet365, Ladbrokes, William Hill
0.5pt win Belgian Bill @ 14-1 with Ladbrokes [/notification_box]


Dubai Racing Carnival – 5th January 2012

Day 1 of the Dubai Racing Carnival (#DRC) at Meydan today, and we kick things off with a small field handicap over nine and a half furlongs at (2:30). The race looks competitive as you would come to expect with the Dubai Carnival, but the one that catches my eye is the Dhruba Selveratnam trained Kal Barg, who comes into this race on his third run back after a break and should be at absolute peak fitness.

A winner at the Carnival last year off a mark of 100, he is 1lb lower than that for this race and according to Trakus recorded the fastest final 400m of the race last time when fourth to Submariner last time and the form is working out.

Next up is an eleven furlong handicap on the Tapeta, and although he isn’t a value price the (3:05) really should go the way of Honour System. A hold up performer, this son of King’s Best showed decent form on the surface at the Carnival last year and posted a good figure when beating Haatheq over ten furlongs off a mark of 100. Up just the 2lbs on that effort, the extra furlong will pose no threats and Frankie Dettori can cut them down inside the final furlong to record success.

The (3:45) is a low-grade affair really considering what one would expect at the Dubai Carnival and I’m not really keen on anything in the race. If I had to choose I’d probably side with Ali Al Raihe trained Mutayaser, who has scope to build on what he achieved in the UK at three, especially off a mark of 75. He is by Shamardal also so the chances are he will improve for the switch to synthetics and at around 7-1 (Coral) there would be worse bets.

On the turf for the next at (4:20), and it is a very competitive sprint handicap which sees the likeable Happy Dubai return to the scene of his greatest triumphs at the Carnival last season. I think it’ll be tougher for the son of Indian Ridge this time round though, and the Robert Cowell trained Monsieur Joe is weighted to reverse form (on MJ first run here).

Green Beret is a better horse on Tapeta and also over an extra furlong, but he ran well enough here in the Al Quoz to suggest he’ll play his hand in this race, but personally don’t think he’ll be good enough to serve it up to the lower weighted animals.

Both Zero Money and Addictive Dream are interesting types, and clocked big speed figures in the UK last season – both should go very well and one of them could potentially win (wouldn’t be a surprise). However the one I like is the David Marnane trained Nocturnal Affair, who comes into this off the back of a Listed race win at Dundalk and a big speed figure when winning the Portland Handicap at Doncaster mid-way through the season. The mark of 105 still looks winnable and he’ll be suited by conditions and the likely decent pace on offer and he can win this en-route to better things.

Back onto the Tapeta for the (5:00) and this is another (like the 3:45) where I don’t really have an opinion one way or another if I’m honest. The Mike De Kock could be an absolute shoe-in on his Argentinean form, but he is tough to get a handle on. Start Right is another that should run well out here and he has good turf numbers to his name, especially his most recent effort at Sandown in July.
However he is priced very short in the market at around 3-1, especially given we don’t know where he is in terms of peak fitness. Bridgefield would be my idea of the winner at around 18-1 (Bet365) but I won’t be backing it.

Back on the turf course for the (5:35) where the Mike De Kock trained favourite Mahbooba is expected to continue her decent record at the Carnival but I think she’ll come up short here. Derbaas is a likeable sort who improved out of all recognition at the Carnival last year, before a below-par effort in the Dubai Duty Free, and he can be given solid claims of building on that this year. One that takes my eye however is the Mahmood Al Zarooni trained Laajooj who comes here off the back of a sixth placed effort at Ascot in the summer, in a race which wasn’t run to suit in the slightest and I think he’ll make up into a very smart four-year-old.

A repeat of his Newmarket win would see him very hard to beat here, and I think under positive tactics Mikael Barzalona can lead these a merry dance, and at around 8-1 is an astonishing value bet at the price.

Finally we close things off with another turf handicap (6:15), this time over seven furlongs and plenty of runners it is a very competitive event, and I could foresee something like this falling to the prominent running As De Trebol who weakened out of things inside the final furlong last year over a mile on Tapeta, and the drop back to seven and switch to turf could work the oracle for this point and shoot sort. I think he is a little high in the weights off 106, but his price of 14-1 gives you a value edge, and is probably worth a small wager.
My Bets:
2pt win Nocturnal Affair @ 7-1 with Ladbrokes
3pt win Laajooj @ 8-1 with Bet365, Boylesports, Ladbrokes [/notification_box]