Best bets for the horse racing at Meydan Friday 14th January – The Dubai Carnival

It is the first meeting of the Dubai World Cup Carnival proper out at Meydan in the new Friday afternoon/evening slot. The Carnival will have several new races for 2022. The Super Saturday card, sponsored by Emirates Airline, is scheduled for 5th March 2022 and will welcome the addition of a new race – the $300,000 Ras Al Khor over 1,400m on turf. Prize money for Dubai World Cup night, which boasts six Group One races and three Group Twos, has been increased to $30.5m. Due to take place on Saturday 26th March 2022, all races on World Cup night will be run for at least $1m.

Dubai Racing Club also announced that the Longines Dubai Sheema Classic is offering a $6m purse, moving it back to its pre-pandemic value. The Group One Dubai Turf is being increased to $5m, while the flagship Dubai World Cup, sponsored by Emirates Airline, has the highest purse of the night at $12m.

Best bets for the horse racing at Meydan

It’s a good card to get the Dubai Carnival underway with Listed and Group action to enjoy. It may be a bit dull and dreary here but it’s 26 degrees out there apparently so get yourself a little winter sunshine by tuning in on Sky Racing, I am going to. My five fancies follow and I am on all of them overnight as I think they might shorten.  

They have a Group One for the Arabian’s Al Maktoum Challenge but I am steering clear of that as I know next to nothing about any of them.

The first race of interest to me is the first race for the thoroughbreds the 2.35 the 6f Festival City Stakes Presented By Palm West Beach Stakes on the Dirt. Taking Names caught the eye on debut of track and trip before disappointing next time over seven; looked to be going best turning in and clearly didn’t get home over the extra furlong. This aint the best race you’re going to see at the Carnival and the son of Arrogate can get back to winning ways dropping back to six furlongs. I am on at 9-4.  

At 3.10 we have the Dubai Racing Club Classic Presented By The View At The Palm Listed Stakes over 1m4f on the Turf track. Wirko looked like a colt to keep an eye on last season after winning Epsom’s Listed 1m2f Blue Riband Trial but he fluffed his lines at Chester in the 1m4f G.3 Chester Vase and hasn’t been seen since. He weakened at Chester have led from the off so the 1m4f trip is a concern; it’s noted that team Godolphin though the good to soft ground may have been against him at Chester. With only 8-11 to carry under the race conditions and as a lightly raced four-year-old back on faster going he is the tentative pick at 15-8.  

At 3.45 it’s 7f for the Jumeirah Classic Trial Presented By Palm Jumeirah Stakes. Mr Professor is top rated and won a Listed race over a mile at Pontefract last time out, but I think his new mark flatters him as that wasn’t the best Listed race you’ll ever see. I am not convinced about the drop in trip ether. Sovereign Prince got off the mark at the fifth attempt winning a nursery over seven Epsom in September before being put away for the season; that was his first try at the trip. I backed him on debut last season and will be backing him on his seasonal reappearance here as I think the track and trip are perfect plus Home City should front run and set it up for him lovely.  I have the 2-1.  

It’s a mile on the Dirt for the Group Two Al Maktoum Challenge R1 Presented By Nakheel Group 2 Stakes at 4.20. I have been scratching my head with this one and can make a case for several so I am leaving it alone.  

It’s a mile on the Turf at 4.55 for the Group Two Cape Verdi presented By Club Vista for fillies and mares. I simply have to be on Soft Whisper here who looks too good for this field. I tipped her the last time she ran and didn’t stay the 1m2f at HQ but Saeed bin Suroor's filly was an impressive winner of the UAE 1,000 Guineas on the Dirt last Carnival (I tipped her in that as well) and she may have achieved more last season but for her campaign being interrupted after finishing lame in the UAE Derby. Get on at 11-10. Saeed bin Suroor told the Godolphin website “Soft Whisper did well last year in both Dubai and the UK, winning Listed races on both dirt and turf. This looks the right race to start her four-year-old campaign and she has been working nicely."  Stunning Beauty is one I tipped more than once last season, including when it all went wrong at Ascot, but she looks up against it here.  

The lucky last at 5.30 is the Listed Dubai Dash over 5f on the Turf. Another real headscratcher and tricky heat for us punters. I was surprised to see Royal Crusade entered by Charlie Appleby as he has been campaigned over six and seven furlongs to date – I have backed him more than once. Far from disgraced in the 6f G.3 Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint and 6f G.1 Al Quoz Sprint at last year's Carnival the five-year-old is an interesting entry over the minimum trip. The cheekpieces that were added for the first time when he was last seen winning at Kempton are on again and he is another tentative pick at the 11-2.  

Be lucky