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.