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 – 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.

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Thanks for reading.