Dubai World Cup Night Preview

The opening race on World Cup Night at (#Meydan) and was won last year by Skysurfers from Stall 13, under a good ride from Frankie Dettori. The son of E Dubai doesn’t line up this year, and neither does runner up Mufarrh which leaves Red Jazz as a representative of that form from twelve months ago. The five-year-old son of Johannesburg was third in this race last year under Michael Hills and it is interesting to see him return after his trainer suggested he didn’t enjoy the surface as much as he does turf.

African Story tops the market after an impressive display over course & distance last time up, and a repeat of that performance would make him seriously hard to beat here from a plum draw in Stall 4. Saeed Bin Suroor’s gelding has steadily progressed since being out here in Dubai, and clocked one of the fastest speed figures I’ve ever awarded out here with his most recent performance.Shamalgan, First City and Dux Scholar have plenty to find on what they’ve put forward thus far on their speed figures out here and I struggle to see any of these getting involved at the business end.

Do It All stole a tactical race to win the Zabeel Mile (Group 2) last time, and his numbers suggest he too will struggle against the higher quality of opposition on offer.

Haatheq is one I could genuinely give a chance of making the frame too, but he hasn’t been given any help by his draw widest of all in box 14. The same can be said for Snaafy who followed home African Story last time in the Burj Nahaar but never looked like winning at any point – he continues to run some rather large figures but doesn’t win when his figures suggests he can, which suggests he is either unlucky, or saves a little for himself.

Viscount Nelson is untried thus far on anything other than turf, so it is interesting to see Mike De Kock switch him now, but in all honesty he has plenty on his plate in this grade, and think he’ll be finishing mid-pack at best.

Sandagiyr clocked a good time on Tapeta but failed to follow that up on turf in a slowly run Zabeel Mile last time and could return to a similar level back on this surface but is priced up about right at 11/1.

Two which interest me in this race at prices are Western Aristocrat and Derbaas. Jeremy Noseda’s four-year-old clocked a massive time on the Polytrack at Kempton that would give him every chance at pitching in at this level, and duly followed up with a win in America taking the Jamaica Handicap (Grade 1) at Belmont. While Derbaas has clocked several large speed figures on the Dubai circuit, he has struggled to win this season and has been presented with easier opportunities than what he’ll face tomorrow, but is still overpriced at 20/1.

The second race on the World Cup Night, and this was a very tactical affair which was decided last year by those racing up on the pace.

Mikhail Glinka clocked one of the best figures I’ve ever awarded him for his run last time, but he raced in a good position last year and failed to stay the distance (and hung left) into the home straight, and with this being a stronger renewal I worry for his chances of taking top rank.

Opinion Poll came third in this race last year, from a position which wouldn’t of best suited him in the way the race panned out, and once again you’d expect him to play a hand in the finish here, but he was held last time by Fox Hunt over two furlongs less, and the former Mark Johnston in-mate can confirm that form over the longer distance, before making his name as one of the smartest two mile flat horses in the country this season (in the UK).

Grand Vent doesn’t look good enough, nor does he look certain to stay this trip and similar can be said of Averroes. Unusual Suspect hasn’t taken to racing out in Dubai so far and although the trip will help him, he doesn’t look classy enough to play a hand in the finish here.

Zanzamar has shown good form in Dubai over trips shorter than a mile and a half, but is bred to absolutely relish this longer distance, and he has place claims under Richard Hills.

Joshua Tree is another who looks likely to come up short here but shouldn’t have any troubles lasting out this longer trip, and throw into the unknown Makani Bisty from Japan it makes for a rather tricky race.

My idea of the winner though is the Alan Bailey trainer Barbican who is bred to stay longer than the mother-in-law, and has shown very smart form over middle distances in the UK as a three-year-old. He is bred to improve with age and will be much stronger this season, I expect him to be winning good staying prizes this season for his Newmarket handler, and what better way to start?

3:25 – UAE DERBY (GROUP 2)
A rather competitive renewal of a race which has seen some really good winners over the years. From the likes of Asiatic Boy, Discreet Cat to more recently Musir. This has been a race which has been farmed by Mike De Kock and Saeed Bin Suroor who have trained all 12 winners of this race between them.

Saeed Bin Suroor has trained 7 winners of this race, and this year he doesn’t have an entry in this race, so if the trend is to continue then it all comes down to Mike De Kock to expand on his current 5 winner haul, and he saddles Mickdaam who has gradually been brought along to peak tomorrow night.

There isn’t much between them all, but from what I hold before me the current favourite Wrote is massively underpriced at 4/1, and I’ll be looking to get him beaten. I will also be doing similar with Daddy Long Legs who too, at 7/1 is grossly underpriced considering what he has actually done on the clock, and seems to have been priced up more on who is connections are, as opposed to what he has actually done.

Kinglet has done nothing wrong so far, winning the UAE 2000 Guineas in a fair time, he is looking to complete the double here but I do worry his ability to stay this longer trip given how keenly he can race throughout his races. He is ridden by Frankie Dettori who is likely to hold him up and come with a late effort, but he will need all the luck in-running.

Helmet comes across from Australia with plenty going for him, but has been disappointing on his last couple of outings. He looked like he’d really go on to big things after beating Manawanui in the Caulfield Guineas but he just hasn’t gone forward from that. Kerrin McEvoy hasn’t been helped by the draw out in 14 either, and the talented Aussie rider will need to use all his magic to get this head-case home in front.

Red Duke is bred to go well on this sort of surface, and has solid form in the book. He has been given a tough draw out wide, but he is a tough durable horse and my guess is he’ll be plenty fit enough for his seasonal return.

Lucky Chappy has been all the race with the American’s ahead of this event, but he hasn’t really done it on the clock until a fair effort last time, and there is a case to put him forward at 16/1 but there is something about him I just don’t like, but can’t put my finger on what exactly.

Entifaadha looked so promising in the early stages of his career but has disappointed the last twice. William Haggas reaches for the blinkers for the first time, and that could work the oracle on a clearly talented individual.

Two which take my eye are Genten, and Maritimer and I’m struggling really to split the pair. The former came second to one of the smartest three-year-olds in Japan on his most recent start at Tokyo, and is crying out for the extra yardage being offer in this race tomorrow, he is a massive price at 33/1. The latter clocked a few decent Beyer’s last backend at Woodbine, and providing he has progressed for the switch to Herman Brown he is overpriced here at 25/1 given the data I have before me – and I’ll be having a saver on him at the prices.

Finally Balada Sale comes into this as an unknown quantity, and like Helmet has the advantage of being bred in the Southern-Hemisphere and should be more forward than most for trainer Pascal Bary.

Upgraded to Group 1 status this year, and is race which has already attracted a good competitive field and this year is no different.

This race always signals the start of the turf races on World Cup Night, and has been won twice by J J The Jet Plane.

This field looks stacked with plenty of pace with a heap of course and distance winners in the line-up should ensure this is a very fast and competitive renewal.

Addictive Dream won a couple of early turf races at the Carnival in decent times for Dandy Nicholls, and returns to that surface after a failure on Tapeta last time. He will be given an attacking ride by son Adrian, and will be in the shake up.

Another who will be up there throughout is Nocturnal Affair who has shown improved form for the fitting of a tongue-strap and would like the ground quicker the better. He has some rather excellent figures in his locker, and looks sure to play a hand in the finish.

Monsieur Joe is quirky but very good, and has somewhat been rejuvenated by current trainer Robert Cowell, he will be played late and gets the assistance of one of the best riders of sprint races in Pat Cosgrave.

Regally Ready winner of the Breeders Cup Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs last year, made a very moderate debut appearance at the track earlier in the month. He’ll need to improve stacks on that to feature tomorrow night, but he is a high class animal and needs to dominate.

Prohibit will be suited to any fast fractions, and will be running on through horse late and is ridden by the excellent Jim Crowley who gets on well with him. Johnny Murtagh renews his partnership with Sole Power who looked the winner for a long way last time out, but was collared up the inside by Invincible Ash and Jamie Spencer. Sole Power loves a strong pace, and runs best when getting it, clocking some huge speed figures in the process and looks sure to play a hand in the finish.

Two which take my eye are August Rush who ran well on Tapeta last time behind Krypton Factor, and the switch back to turf and dropped to five furlongs could work the oracle, he is overpriced at 22/1. The second to take my eye is Eagle Regiment who is bred on exactly the same line as sprinting hero Silent Witness (El Moxie x Bureaucracy Mare) was. He has won two good races over the minimum distance and ran well for a long way behind Joy And Fun over six furlongs last time out, he holds solid claims at around 10/1.

A race in which Hong Kong trained Rocket Man is looking to retain his title after an imperious success in this race last year. A couple of people I have spoken to (one of them being @DavidHaddrell) believe he isn’t as good as he once was, and is starting to decline.

I am not so sure. His rating when winning this race last year puts him with a clear advantage over these, he is drawn on the inside and looks sure to go and sit handy before putting in a telling burst of acceleration turning for home.

According to my figures his biggest danger is the Bob Baffert trained The Factor who is drawn in the centre of the track, and will go forward from the gates. He has posted a couple of decent successes in his last two efforts, and clocked a career best Beyer figure of 106 two runs ago, and backed that up with a 104 last time.

Just behind those is Lucky Nine who is birthed out in the widest stall, Giant Ryan who clocked well when winning the Vosburgh but raced on the bias and bombed out at Churchill Downs last time.

Hitchens and Krypton Factor are next best, but I struggle to believe either of these are good enough to take out this Group 1 prize, and although they’ve clocked good numbers I just can’t have them.
Which leaves me with the unknown of Sepoy. He is one of the smartest sprinters I have ever seen, topped only by Black Caviar and possibly Dayjur. His weight carrying performance last time in the Oakleigh Plate was a fabulous effort and he could be completely different class to these tomorrow. He is unraced on the Tapeta though which is a worry, but has the assistance of the excellent Kerrin McEvoy in the plate.

A tough race really with one I haven’t got a real opinion about. I expect Rocket Man to win it really, but couldn’t rule out The Factor under Raphael Bejrano, and then throw in the unknown of Sepoy it quickly becomes a ‘watching’ race for me.

No horse has managed to retain their crown back-to-back since the inception of this race in 1996, so it makes Presvis task a mammoth one, considering he comes here off the back of two disappointing efforts this campaign. The draw isn’t much of a problem given his running style, and there looks to be more pace here than what he has had to run at on his last two outings.

City Style has shown improved form this campaign and comes into this off the back of solid placed efforts behind both Musir and Master Of The Hounds but I struggle to see him being good enough to get involved here.

Wigmore Hall returns here after finishing third behind Presvis in 2011. He made a reasonable return in a race which was fairly tactical and he struggle to land a blow at any point, but that would have blown away with cobwebs with a view to a tilt at this coveted prize.

Dubawi Gold I’m not sure will stay, and hasn’t been helped by the draw either and if I’m honest I don’t think he is good enough to win this either. Same can be said of Rio De La Plata apart from knowing he will stay, he is getting on in years and doesn’t look the force of old.

Cityscape is an admirably consistent sort for trainer Roger Charlton and really deserves to land a Group 1 prize, however I think this trip will stretch him and he’ll be running on empty inside the final furlong – really do wish him well though, a lovely horse.

Dark Shadow is a big dark horse in this race, and one I expect to go very close under Yuichi Fukunaga. He has solid form with Tosen Jordan and Hiruno D’Amour and looks to be running in the first-time cheekpieces which could make all the difference.

I’m not too au fait with the form of Ambitious Dragon, California Memory and Xtension but I am informed by a very good judge that he fully expects Ambitious Dragon to sluice up, but the price does absolutely nothing for me. Xtension was decent over in the UK and he could have improved for the switch to Hong Kong but you’d struggle to see him winning a race of this nature if I’m brutally honest.
I don’t think Delegator will stay nine furlongs in a horse box let alone running it, so he too is passed over. Green Destiny has clocked some massive times on the turf last season, and promises to win a big prize like this but he’ll need to improve heaps off the back of a lacklustre comeback effort behind Capponi on Tapeta last time.

Rajsaman is a good horse but simply isn’t good enough, and Await The Dawn has questions to answer on his comeback run (and wants further) he can’t be backed with any confidence whatsoever.

Which leaves us with the De Kock pairing of Mutahadee and Musir. Mutahadee was set an impossible task in the Jebel Hatta last time and had previously lit up the clock with some impressive performances against lesser company. He has the assistance of Christophe Soumillon who is either brilliant, or painfully bad with no in-between and is priced about right at his current odds. Then you’ve got Musir who although he has proven himself as an immense synthetic horse, gets the assistance of Kevin Shea and has proven himself to be equally adept on turf throughout his career. His speed figure in the Rashidiya was nothing special, but had previously proved his wellbeing in hacking up over a mile in an electric time.

I think his current odds of 14/1 scream value, and with a good draw I think he’ll take some beating for Mike De Kock, and can hopefully give his trainer a third win in this race.

A select field for this Group 1 middle distance prize, won last year by the subsequently ill-fated Rewilding.

This is a classy renewal which sees Breeders Cup Turf winner St Nicholas Abbey kick off his seasonal campaign in pursuit of another Group 1 success to add to his increasing tally.

Aidan O’Brien also saddles Treasure Beach who’s form actually reads a lot better than it looks. He was ridden far too forcefully in the Grand Prix De Paris, and was flogged as a pacemaker in the Arc De Triomphe. I see him developing until a high class middle distance colt this season, and expect him to go close in this under the excellent Jamie Spencer.

Despite a good second last time Cavalryman looks pitched in too deep against this sort of company, and the same can be said of Jakkalberry. Shimraan is another who despite cutting out a favourable impression last backend, has disappointed on his two outings in Dubai thus far.

Cirrus Des Aigles needs to return to form that saw him land the Champion Stakes (Group 1) at Ascot last season, and was handed a shock defeat at Chantilly last time by World Cup aspirant Zazou. He is no doubt a top class performer but I do question his ability to stay a mile and a half against top class opposition, and he the petrol gage could be running on empty inside the final furlong.

Mahbooba clocked a massive time when beating Laajooj over nine furlongs, but was beaten in a muddling race over a mile next time (when I backed her at short odds). She returned to form last time with a good success, but although she won over this distance at Newmarket last year, it was against muppets and I worry about her ability to last out this sort of trip at the highest grade.

Bold Silvano is another who has disappointed this season, and couldn’t carry forth any real confidence heading into such a race, and could pick up some place money.

Beaten Up is a horse I hold in the highest regard, and is one I am adamant will win a Group 1 before the end of the season. Quite whether he will be streetwise enough for this first time back remains a question, especially being so lightly raced in comparison to his rivals, and he doesn’t really represent much value at his current odds.

Which leaves me with Songcraft, which readers of my blog will see I put him forward as a potential for this race when he beat Belgian Bill three runs ago. He is a high class horse who has had problems travelling through his races in the past, but it’s interesting to see that Saeed Bin Suroor has reached for the first-time headgear in the shape of a visor, and that could work the oracle under the masterful Silvestre De Sousa, and he too wasn’t suited by the make-up of the race last time. He is massively overpriced at 20/1, and is worth considering in an otherwise open and competitive heat.

One of the strongest renewals of this race I think I’ve ever seen, it looks like having plenty of pace in unlike what happened last year.

Historically on World Cup Night all the top grade races turn into tactical affairs and thus giving those who like to sit up with the pace a significant advantage but with plenty who like to go forward in this race, it could look to go with something with a high cruising speed, that’ll sit just off the pace.

Smart Falcon who comes here off the back of a winning streak of 9, stretching back to September 2010 looks likely to put the pace to the race under Yutaka Take. He has a formidable record on dirt in his native Japan, and that form usually transfers well onto the Tapeta out in Dubai (Victoire Pisa, Transcend last year). He has said to have lost 20kg in transit over to the UAE, and that is far from ideal, and I expect something to run him down in the straight.

So You Think is a tough durable sort who probably didn’t right the heights those expected of him last season. However he posted some immense speed figures throughout the campaign and highlighted himself as a top class racehorse. He returns for another campaign this season and is drawn well, and it’s impossible to expect anything but a good run from this great bull of a horse.

It is quite amazing to see how much Capponi has improved since being out in Dubai. Going from just a handicap winner at Doncaster a couple of seasons ago, to easily winning the Al Maktoum Challenge 3rd Round (Group 1) last time is some feat by trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni, and from the speed figures I have in-front of me, I fully expect a bold show from this really likeable son of Shamardal.

Quite why Frankie Dettori has chosen Prince Bishop over both Capponi and Mendip is somewhat of a mystery, as what I have before me suggests it can’t win, despite an impressive first time out performance here three starts ago, he has been readily held since and I can’t see how he can reverse form.

Game On Dude despite a second-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic needs to improve to feature here, and his career best Beyer figure of 102 leaves him a short-way off what is required to win this race, but is ridden by an absolute darling in Chantal Sutherland.

Silver Pond ran well first time up on synthetics, he came second to Capponi but wasn’t catching him as the line came so it’s hard to see how he can reverse that level of form, but has a great jockey in Johnny Murtagh booked.

Royal Delta isn’t good enough, and despite looking like he would be Master Of The Hounds doesn’t look to be good enough either based on his performances this campaign. I did think after his comeback run behind Mendip he would do so much better than he has, and perhaps he’ll come right tomorrow night but I can’t possibly have him.

Planteur is very much an unknown and brings forward an infallible first time out record (111) and is now in the care of one of the shrewdest trainer in the business in the shape of Marco Botti. That said I genuinely can’t find a reason why he can win this race, and has been somewhat of a disappointment from what he promised as a three-year-old.

Zazou comes into this an unknown quantity after smashing Cirrus Des Aigles on the polytrack at Chantilly and remains unbeaten on that surface. His turf form while very decent wasn’t exceptional and it could be that being a son of Shamardal he might find the artificial surfaces more to his liking and that last win reads very well, but I’m still a little suspect in regards the level of his ability.

Monterosso was third in this race last year and made a reasonable comeback behind Capponi last time. He is expected to tighten up plenty for the run, and wouldn’t be without a shout (would of gone close last year) and has to be respected, given he’s stamina assured and will be finishing late under Mickael Barzalona.

Eishin Flash is another with a massive chance in this race, after initially showing big promise as a three-year-old he hasn’t won for a while, but his second place to the mighty Orfevre in the Arima Kinen showed the fires still burn brightly in this one. Bred to go well on this surface, he is of high interest on my list and can see him taking plenty of beating.

Finally my idea of the winner is Mendip. Believe it or not he is an absolutely unreal value bet at the current odds of 33/1. Forget about his last run when posting a below par effort (he banged his right hind on the starting gates) and although passed okay to run by the veterinary officer he never looked happy. His run before that posted a massive speed figure when readily accounting for Master Of The Hounds and Prince Bishop suggesting he still has the ability to win a big race like this after promising so much.

His run before that he looked like he’d come on heaps for and was slightly unruly at the start so you can forgive him that effort too. His form figures on synthetics without these two blips read impressively (1113111). I think he is an insane price despite his awkward draw out wide, and he can take a mid-division position and stalk the likely strong pace. He gets the assistance of the brilliant Silvestre De Sousa and he can guide him home to victory at huge odds.

The Duke’s Value Bets:
1pt each-way Barbican @ 10-1 with Betfred, Totesport, PaddyPower
0.5pt each-way Genten @ 33-1 with Bet365, PaddyPower, Coral
0.5pt each-way Maritimer @ 25-1 with BetVictor
0.5pt each-way August Rush @ 25-1 with PaddyPower
1pt win Nocturnal Affair @ 11-1 with PaddyPower
1pt win Eagle Regiment @ 11-1 with Bet365
1pt each-way Musir @ 14-1 with Boylesports, Betfred, PaddyPower
1pt each-way Songcraft @ 18-1 with PaddyPower
1pt each-way Mendip @ 33-1 with Bet365, Boylesports, Ladbrokes
1pt win Eishin Flash @ 14-1 with Bet365, Boylesports, Betfred, SportingBet [/notification_box]


Dubai Racing Carnival – 16th February 2012

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.

My Bets:
1pt win Derbaas @ 14-1 with Bet365
1pt win Belgian Bill @ 16-1 with Ladbrokes [/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.

For those of you on Twitter you can follow us @OHRacing, and for all things Meydan you can use the hashtags #Meydan, and also #DRC.

Thanks for reading.

Dubai Racing Carnival – 12th January 2012

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.

My Bets:
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]