Ambant Gala Stakes Preview

Friday’s Listed race attracts a reasonable field of 9, with Jet Away being the most notable runner, who was last seen trailing in third of four runners behind Brown Panther in Listed company at Pontefract in very bad ground, but a return to a sounder surface should see him run to a better vein of form. Though he hasn’t really lived up to what was originally thought of him, he is a solid horse in at around this grade, and one can see him running another bold race under these conditions.

Winter Derby joint-favourite Junoob hasn’t been the same force as he was on the Polytrack over the winter months and on paper this looks a much tougher race than what he has contested the last twice on turf and his price reflects his chance.

Globetrotting Afsare ran the race of his life last time out in Italy when finishing a respectable second on his first start in Group 1 company. Though all three of his wins which came as a three year old came on Good to Firm, he shows there’s still fire in his belly and with a drastic drop in class, he looks more than capable of taking this.

Another globetrotter and Godolphin second string, Biondetti hasn’t been the same since taking a Group 1 win in Italy at 2010. Disappointing on both of his starts this year at Meydan (both over 10f), the return to England might go to his benefit, but the trip obviously doesn’t suit him so he looks likely to struggle here.

Cai Shen has always been consistent aside from a blemish over course and distance last August. Fortunately, he bounced straight back at Doncaster on his last run for the year before finishing a respectable second at Lingfield in the Winter Derby, before going on at the finish to come 6th of 30 runners at Ascot last month. Back up in trip again to 10f, he should run a cracking race and will be thereabouts.

Songcraft started his racing career for Andre Fabre in France, where he racked up a double before being switched to Saeed Bin Suroor by the Godolphin operation. He managed to make it four from four until disappointing on his third start at Meydan in what was a slowly run Dubai City Of Gold (Group 2). His next start came in the Dubai Sheema Classic which was a similarly stop-start event, only this time he sported first time headgear in the shape of visors (which seemed to have a negative effect). Running on British soil for the first time tomorrow, and with the visors dispensed with – if there is a true pace in this race I couldn’t run him out, but is one to play in-running.

Tazahum hasn’t quite lived up to what was expected from him as a three-year-old after he won a Listed race on his second run as a three-year-old, and has somewhat struggled to land any sort of blow in races of similar level. The extra two furlongs looks to be against him here, as in my eyes he is a miler but he does have a perfect record of 2 wins from 2 at Sandown.

The veteran of the race, Cill Rialaig started off a promising National Hunt career when winning two bumpers before being switched to the flat, she’s had a successful flat career, racking up six wins of her 22 starts. She is a distance winner and more then capable of holding her own, but this looks much tougher against more improving sorts and she’ll need to improve on her recent Ascot running to figure here.

Finally, lightly raced Farhaan for John Dunlop makes his second start this season after a reasonably lucrative juvenile campaign. A winner of a maiden and novice contest he was sent off favourite for the Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket, but couldn’t run down Daddy Long Legs who set the pace, and his exertions told in the closing stages weakening into fifth. His comeback run when fourth to Thought Worthy and Noble Mission at Newmarket reads well, and he is likely to have come on for that run, and is very much a ‘dark horse’ in a hot race.

All in all I think this race is Afsare‘s for the taking, but couldn’t rule out a big run from both Farhaan and Songcraft at bigger prices.

Dubai World Cup Night Preview

2:10 – GODOLPHIN MILE (GROUP 2)
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.

2:45 – DUBAI GOLD CUP (GROUP 3)
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.

4:00 – AL QUOZ SPRINT (GROUP 1)
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.

4:35 – DUBAI GOLDEN SHAHEEN (GROUP 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.

5:25 – DUBAI DUTY FREE (GROUP 1)
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.

6:00 – DUBAI SHEEMA CLASSIC (GROUP 1)
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.

6:40 – DUBAI WORLD CUP (GROUP 1)
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.

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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 – 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=”http://www.ohracing.net/images/darkmatter.jpg” 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=”http://www.ohracing.net/images/naqshabban.png” 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=”http://www.ohracing.net/images/songcraft.png” 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.