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.
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]