Although thoughts have primarily been with the Cheltenham Festival of late we have the small matter of Super Saturday out in Dubai at Meydan the penultimate meeting of the Dubai Carnival 2018.
I have been nicking a few quid at the Carnival through the winter months and hopefully, have some more winners for Super Saturday get a bob or two extra in the skyrocket before the Festival next week. We have seven races to enjoy and you will notice a strong Godolphin theme running through the selections but it is their backyard.
They start at midday our time with the Listed Al Bastakiya Sponsored By Emirates.com Listed Stakes over 1m1f on the dirt track. To my eyes the race looks to be all about Charlie Appleby inmate ridden by William Buick Masar. The chestnut colt is 12lb clear of his rivals on official ratings and the big question is will he take to the surface? If he does go on the dirt, and he should, he wins, I am not even that worried about stall 10 which is not ideal. I think he can get into a good position early, Buick knows how to ride here, and he should then show these a clear pair of heels turning for home.
They line-up on the dirt again for the Group Three Mahab Al Shimaal Sponsored By Emirates Skywards Stakes over the six furlongs at 12.35. My Catch got the better of Comicas here last time in the G.3 Al Shindagha Sprint over C&D but got an easy lead that day and that won’t happen today. Prior to that race, Comicas won the G.3 Dubawi Stakes over track and trip with My Catch back in fourth (Yalta 5th) and I think that is the race to take more notice of. The likely fast early pace should set this up for the selection with My Catch and Yalta likely to go off like scalded cats. I am on for an Appleby/Buick quick double.
The Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint Sponsored By Arabian Adventures Stakes over six furlongs on the turf track at 1.10 won’t take long. Ertijaal is all about speed and is, of course, being aimed at the Al Quoz Sprint and I didn’t expect to see him line-up here. He did win over the track and trip in 2015 but I am not sure he can hold these off over the extra 220 yards. I put up D’Bai for the G.2 7f Al Fahidi Fort won by Jungle Cat and Charlie Appleby sends both for this with them dropping back down in distance. Jungle Cat of course won this last year and as he arrives clearly in good heart after that win in February he is the pick for what would be a Appleby/Buick treble!
We stay on the dirt track but over a mile at 1.45 for the Group Three Burj Nahaar Sponsored By Emirates Holidays Stakes. Finally, I tip one that isn’t a Godolphin runner! I can’t go against Heavy Metal even though the draw has been unkind and the gelding is lumbered widest of all in 13. I am convinced he will have the early pace to get across regardless and if he gets his head in front I can’t see any of these passing him; won R.1 of the Al Maktoum Challenge.
At 2.20 they swap to the turf track for the Group One Jebel Hatta Sponsored By Emirates Airline Stakes over 1m1f. I am on a Godolphin one again, this time trained by Saeed bin Suroor, as this looks a fairly straightforward task for Benbatl. Clearly loving it in Dubai I have had an inkling for a while he is capable of winning a Group One and this should be it. He is being primed for a tilt at the Dubai Turf on World Cup night and this should prove a perfect warm-up. Oisin Murphy gets the leg-up from Saeed bin Suroor for what should be the first win of the day for the other Godolphin stable.
We are on the dirt again over 1m2f for the Group One Al Maktoum Challenge R3 Sponsored By Emirates Airline Stakes at 2.55. Thunder Snow defeated North America by a neck in Round 2 of the Al Maktoum Challenge here last month and I fancy him to do it again – hopefully by a little further. I’ve said before he can be a funny bugger but when he’s good he’s good. Christophe Soumillon doesn’t ride which is a bit of a worry but Oisin Murphy rides again for Saeed bin Suroor and he is not a bad substitute and a quick double for that team is expected.
The lucky last at 3.30 is the 1m4f Group Two Dubai City Of Gold Sponsored By Emirates Skycargo Stakes and a few familiar names are on the card. Best Solution has a chance as he appears to still be improving for Saeed bin Suroor and looked a lot better for his first run out here when winning last time, that said he has never managed to win above G.3 level so far. Charlie Appleby trained Frontiersman looked likely to become top class a while back but truth be told has never scaled the heights some thought he would. His stablemate Hawkbill has the form in the book having won the G.1 Coral-Eclipse, back in 2016, and was too strong for Frontiersman in the G.2 Princess Of Wales's Arqana Racing Club Stakes last year. Has won fresh before so the fact this is his seasonal debut is not a major concern and his front-running style is a positive here. Its Appleby/Buick again for a four-timer all being well.
A Super Heinz for Super Saturday if that’s your thing.