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.
DUBAI WORLD CUP
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.
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]