It is very much the calm before the storm here in the UK with just about everybody’s minds on the Cheltenham Festival already. There is a fair amount of action should you choose to get involved with it in the UK but my focus is very much elsewhere.
They race at Meydan this weekend in the penultimate meeting of the Dubai World Cup Carnival as Saturday is Super Saturday! It is a decent eight-race card with a big money Conditions race, a Listed heat, three Group 3’s, a Group 2 and a couple of Group 1’s to enjoy.
It’s an early start with the first due off at 11.00am our time which is the Arab G.1, the first Thoroughbreds hit the track at 11.35. It gives you a great excuse for an early lunch and a lazy afternoon in front of Sky Racing – that’s what I will be doing anyway.
Dubai Carnival Super Saturday at Meydan racecourse
The first is the 1m4f Group Two Dubai City Of Gold Sponsored By Emirates Skywards on the Turf track. Hukum will be making his seasonal re-appearance having won the G.3 1m4f Cumberland Lodge Stakes at Ascot when last seen in October. The Sheema Classic on World Cup night is the main target as revealed by trainer Owen Burrows this week "God willing, he runs well on Saturday, and whatever he does then he will improve massively come the Sheema Classic.” The track should suit the five-year-old with the Turf track running outside the Dirt plus it’s quite a wide galloping track with a decent length run-in but he is drawn in the car park in stall 14 of 14 which hasn’t helped his chances. He could should win and I am on at 6-4 but that draw does concern me. Global Strom won a handicap over track and trip three-weeks ago and is the one likely to benefit if the jolly flops.
We are on the Dirt track at 12.10 for the mile Group Two Burj Nahaar Sponsored By Emirates Skycargo. Golden Goal knows he’s way around this track and has to be considered especially off the back of his win over track and trip in the G.2 Al Maktoum Challenge R1 back in January; wide draw is a concern and that was a bit of a surprise but it’s form in the book. Tuz ran a fair race when third in the G.3 Firebreak over C&D a month ago and has a chance whilst Mubakker steps up in trip and class but has been winning and improving consistently since moving out there from the yard of Sir Michael Stoute. Soft Whisper has been a disappointment at the Carnival thus far but she gets 5lb off the colts and reverts to the Dirt she won the UAE 1,000 Guineas on last season. Stall two is a decent draw and he run in the G.2 Balanchine weren’t that bad, I think she got shuffled back in the pack a bit at the wrong time and Dettori was not hard on her when it was clear her chance was gone. I thought the 14-1 Paddy Poer offered on Thursday was to big and have that each-way (3 places); I wouldn’t be shocked if she won. Saeed bin Suroor said on the Godolphin website “Soft Whisper has been disappointing so far this season but her latest piece of work was very good - it was the first time that she has really shown something in the morning since coming out to Dubai. This looks the right race and I hope that she can return to form.”
At 12.45 it’s the 6f Group Three Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint Sponsored By Emirates Skycargo and there's a few in here you will know as you would expect. Emaraaty Ana is top-rated having mixed it with the best recently including winning the G.1 Sprint Cup at Haydock and running fourth in the G.1 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint when last seen. I am a fan of A Case Of You but all his best form is on ground considerably softer than he is likely to get in Dubai. The lightly raced five-year-old gelding Man Of Promise is the one that I am taking a chance with as I think his run in the Listed Dubai Sprint over Track and trip in January where he beat Lazuli showed some promise! He was eighth in this last year, Final Song won, and I think he can gain revenge here, especially as the mare Final Song didn’t win again after that victory last season and is perhaps not as good as she once was – she is still feared though. I have the 3-1. Charlie Appleby, trainer of Man Of Promise said in the week “Man Of Promise has produced some pretty solid efforts out in Dubai and was very impressive on his latest start. He has enjoyed a nice break heading into this and looks fantastic. This is a stronger race compared to the Dubai Sprint but he is a young sprinter on an upward curve, so we are pretty confident that he will run a big race.”
At 1.20 we are on the Dirt track for the Listed Al Bastakiya Sponsored By Emirates Holidays over 1m1½f. The G.3 UAE 2000 Guineas over a mile was run at breakneck speed from the off and Bendoog paid the price late on for going with the early pace fading into fourth, Quality Boone third. This is over slightly further of course but breaking from stall two he should be able to control the pace much easier here and surely lessons will have been learnt from last month. I have the 5-2.
We stay on the Dirt at 1.55 for the 1m2f Group One Al Maktoum Challenge R3 Sponsored By Emirates Airline. I think this is quite a tricky heat. Hypothetical took the G.3 Firebreak over a mile last month in eye-catching style but was able to make all from a low draw and will struggle to do that from stall 14 today. Salute The Soldier has a good record here including winning Rounds 2 and 3 last season. Not quite at the level yet this carnival he has two fifth placed finishes to his name the latest in the Listed Curlin Stakes trying to give most of the field a chunk of weight; Appreciated who won that day was getting 13lb from him! I have plumped for Everfast who was third to Hot Rod Charlie in the second round of this series last month. That aint bad form at all and Doug Watson's gelding should be able to get the perfect pitch early breaking from stall one. He looks the solid option to me and I have the 9-2.
At 2.55 we have the 7f Ras Al Khor Sponsored By Emirates Airline Conditions Stakes on the Turf and there are several in here for team Godolphin that I know and like. Al Suhail is one and I have backed the five-year-old more than once, he is a top-class performer on his day. Last seen winning the G.2 Challenge Stakes at Newmarket over 7f in October on a going day he would have every chance but he has never won fresh and this is his first outing for 148 days. D’bai is another that has carried my cash more than once! He has three wins at Meydan to his name and even though he was six lengths behind Storm Damage when fifth over this course and distance last month I think he can reverse that form. I tipped D’bai last month, was backed to odds-on, so it was a bit disappointing he got beat but they race off levels here which is in the sections favour. Buick was far from tough on him when it was obvious he couldn’t reel in the leaders, plus Storm Damage surely won’t get such am easy uncontested lead in this. That run will have blown away any cobwebs for D’bai. William Hills went 12-1 on Thursday which I thought was huge and I took that each-way (4 places). You know how he is going to run and as it is a big field again watch for Buick steering him through late.
We stay on Turf for the Group One 1m 1f Jebel Hatta Sponsored By Emirates Airline at 3.30 and once again there’s a few here you’ll know well. I never seem to catch Lord Glitters right and if you fancy that one the good news is I aint backing him! I tipped up Zakouski in the G.2 Singspiel Stakes won by Lord Glitters over C&D last month where he ran out of steam in the final half furlong; the six-year-old is wearing cheekpieces for the first time for this. The pair are closely matched and have faced-off more than once already. The other obvious one is Barney Roy who has from with Lord Glitters as well. It’s hard to split the trio, I honestly considered at tri-cast, but I think Zakouski might have more to come after that first start of the season in the Singspiel Stakes and with the cheekpieces going on; the wide draw is a concern but with the two main dangers likely to be held up out the back anyway not as much as if one was a frontrunner. William Buick has stuck by him and so I have I. I thought Paddy Power over-priced him at 9-2 on Thursday and took that.
The lucky last is at 4.05 the Dirt the Group Three Mahab Al Shimaal Sponsored By Emirates Airline. I have put up Canvassed on both his starts at the Carnival this season and he has finished fifth and second. The seven-year-old was behind Al Tariq in January in the G.3 Dubawi Stakes but ahead of him in the G.3 Al Shindagha Sprint last time. His style of running means he does it the hard way but he had a troubled passage in the Dubawi Stakes and I think the race three-weeks ago was a truer showing. I am on the seven-year-old at 15-8.Be lucky