It is very much the calm before the storm here in the UK with just about everybody’s minds on the Cheltenham Festival. That said out at Meydan they race in the penultimate meeting of the Dubai Carnival, Saturday is Super Saturday! It is a decent seven-race card with a Listed heat, three Group 3’s, a Group 2 and two Group 1’s to enjoy. A few Bookies priced-up nice and early NRNB and I am having a go in all 7 races.
They get underway nice and early at midday our time with the Group Three 6f Mahab Al Shimaal on the Dirt track. Drafted got it right last time in the G.3 Al Shindagha Sprint (tipped on her) with Tato Key, Nine Below Zero, My Catch and Switzerland all behind. He has a cracking track record and is fancied to go in again at 3-1. I have mentioned Switzerland before, tipped him when 2nd last month, and he seems to be getting the hang of it in the desert but is perhaps a bit one-paced. I Kirk from Sweden has impressive form figures but the form of his handicap win here in January doesn’t look up to much.
At 12.35 it’s the Listed 1m1½f Al Bastakiya again on the Dirt. I have tipped up chestnut filly Divine Image on all three of her career starts, twice at this Carnival. She blew the start in the UAE 1,000 Guineas before running into second before winning over C&D in the Group 3 UAE Oaks last time. She should have too much for this line-up as I would expect her to improve again and she has that filly allowance. I have 11-4.
The 6f Group Three Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint is due off at 1.10. Blue Point is odds-on at 4-7 and is fully expected to win this as his warm-up for the G.1 Al Quoz Sprint on World Cup night in which I have already backed him at 6-4 ante-post.
At 1.45 it’s the mile course on the Dirt for the Group Three Burj Nahaar. A few names you’ll know lining-up here though for a couple their powers do appear to be on the wane. Muntazah appears to be in good heart and will be involved in the finish. Axelrod has been in with the best in the States having won a couple of G.3 races back in the summer. The colt has moved trainer you would assume for a go at some big pots out here and if reproducing the sort of form that saw him finish second in the G.1 Pennsylvania Derby behind McKinzie in September he can win this. I have 3-1.
They go over 1m4f on the Turf track for the Group Two Dubai City Of Gold at 2.20. Lightly raced 4yo Old Persian would have to top your shortlist even though not seen since finishing fifth in the St Leger. He, of course, won the G.2 1m4f Great Voltigeur Stakes prior to that and with improvement still possible the Charlie Appleby trained colt should have too much class for this field. I have the 6-4.
The first of the Group One’s is at 2.55 the 1m2f Al Maktoum Challenge R3 on the Dirt track. Thunder Snow makes his seasonal bow before his attempt to retain his crown in the big one at the end of the month. Was second in this last year but no mistake is expected this time and he is duly short at 4-5.
The lucky last at 3.30 is the Group One 1m1f Jebel Hatta back on the Turf track. This is a decent line-up with Blair House, Dream Castle and Century Dream on the shortlist. Interestingly, as you assume he had the pick, William Buick has gone with Wootton who was a running-on fourth in the G.2 Zabeel Mile on stable debut last month behind Mythical Magic (winner ridden by Buick). He was last turning in and must have been blocked or switched four times before getting in the open and coming home strongly. I am taking a chance on him at 4-1. Dream Castle seeking a hat-trick is feared most.