With the enforced days off due to the equine flu outbreak here in the UK I have been looking forward to a Thursday afternoon punting at the Dubai Carnival, Meydan even more than usual this week.
It’s the seventh meeting of the Carnival as we edge ever closer to the big one and Dubai World Cup night on the 30th March.
There are a couple of Group 2’s and a Group 3 plus the usual handicap fair to take a look at. I like five but the old satchel swingers are taking no chances on a couple of them so it might be a day for Doubles and Trebles or even a Canadian to try and increase your profits.
The 2.30 is the Arab race so we start on the Turf course at 3.05 with the Group Two 5f Meydan Sprint Sponsored By Gulf News. Blue Point is a favourite of mine and looks nailed on in this! He is understandably odds-on at 1-3 and should leave these trailing without breaking a sweat. Charlie Appleby appears very happy with his charge talking on the Godolphin website this week he said "Blue Point is coming back from a bit of a lay-off, having not run since August, but I have been pleased with his preparation. He has done well from four to five, and looks the finished article now. Our main aim has always been the Group One Al Quoz Sprint on Dubai World Cup Night, and therefore there should be some marked improvement on whatever he does this week. He is not coming up against a horse of the calibre of Ertijaal this time (as when second on his sole previous Meydan appearance in this race last year), and should still be the one to beat.”
It’s the Group Three Firebreak Stakes Sponsored By Reach By Gulf News over a mile on the Dirt track at 3.40. This is a bit of a puzzle with most having questions to answer. Heavy Metal knows his way around here but never got involved in R.1 of the Al Maktoum Challenge on 10th January (I know I tipped him!). Kimbear beat him that day but the nine-year-old is perfectly drawn in stall one today and should gain revenge. He is a totally different horse when ridden to the front early, see his victory in this race last year, and Mickael Barzalona should bounce him out and let him go this afternoon. He also, of course, won the G.2 Godolphin Mile last year and is fancied to get back on track at the 5-2.
At 4.15 we are back on Turf for the 1m1½f Meydan Trophy Sponsored By Friday (Conditions). Art Du Val jumped off the page at me when I first looked at the card and the son of No Nay Never looks to be the answer here. Totally unexposed after just two runs he followed up his debut win with a good second in a Listed heat at Deauville in October and is expected to have too much for this line-up. I have the 5-6. Victory Command is the danger based on what we have seen.
The 1m1f Group Two Balanchine Sponsored By gulfnews.com (Fillies & Mares) is due off at 4.50 again on the Turf track. Poetic Charm has to give these 3lb but should be more than capable of doing so. She looks heads and shoulders above these and won the G.2 Cape Verdi last month (tipped on here) with the re-opposing Asoof 4 lengths back in second. She is another odds-on at 4-11. She is another Charlie Appleby has been talking about saying “We were delighted with Poetic Charm’s victory in the Cape Verdi, the step up to nine furlongs is a slight question mark, but we were very pleased with the way she galloped out last time – and she is coming up against the same group of fillies. If she stays the trip, she should take all the beating again.”
A 5.25 it’s the 6f Dirt track for the Insideout Handicap. I tipped Drafted to win the G.3 Al Shindagha Sprint a fortnight ago which he duly did but mentioned Switzerland at the time. The Steve Asmussen trained 5yo never got involved that day but has decent form in the States and reportedly the US Grade 3 winner finished lame in his left foreleg on that Meydan debut. Clearly better than he showed that day if back to his best he is well in here off 107. He is a tentative pick at 8-1 with Lavaspin and Victory Wave feared.
The lucky last is one for the pinstickers as I can make a case for half-a-dozen of them and best left alone.