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]