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.
2pt win Nocturnal Affair @ 7-1 with Ladbrokes
3pt win Laajooj @ 8-1 with Bet365, Boylesports, Ladbrokes [/notification_box]