Apparently, it is forecast to be 32°C out at Meydan on Thursday, a little nicer than down at Triple G Towers at the moment where it is somewhat damp and dreary. No matter, hopefully I have a few winners for the racing on Thursday and though watching on Sky isn’t the same as being there it could be worse; at least we have some racing to enjoy.
Dubai World Cup Carnival Meydan Thursday 18th February
There is a feeling of Déjà vu to the blog today as I have tipped all the selections before; fingers crossed they all get the job done on Thursday. The fantastic five for Thursday follow.
They get underway at 2.30 our time but I am steering clear of the New Jaguar XF Handicap. The first race of interest to me is the 3.05 the Group Two 5f Meydan Sprint Sponsored By Land Rover. Equilateral will be jolly having won the Listed Dubai Dash over C&D last month but all of his wins have come when fresh, not run for around two months at least, and that victory was just 4-weeks ago. I am on the horse that finished third that afternoon Lazuli. A member of the Girdys Gee Gees Dirty Dozen for the season I remain convinced this four-year-old gelding can win a decent pot or two this year and he should be all the better for that recent run. He was slow out of the stalls last month, didn’t settle early due to that when pushed to get a spot, and Buick wasn’t too rough on him late on when it became apparent his chance was gone the gelding having used a little too much juice early. He beat Equilateral in a Group 3 at Newbury last September and can do so again here the cobwebs having been blown away. I am on at 9-4. Charlie Appleby said in the build-up: “We were delighted with Lazuli’s first start of the year and he has definitely come forward for the run.”
At 4.15 we are on the Dirt track for the Group Three UAE Oaks Sponsored By New Jaguar F-Type over 1m1½f. Mnasek was second in the UAE 1,000 Guineas last month, couldn’t get anywhere near Soft Whisper, and has to be considered off the back of that effort but for me her habit of blowing the start is a major concern even over this longer trip. Last Sunset hasn’t won since her debut but her second to Soft Whisper in the UAE 1000 Guineas Trial over 7f on the Dirt last month doesn’t look too shabby now and she followed that effort finishing second again in the Meydan Classic Trial (tipped on here) over 7f on Turf last time. I think the she will be suited by this step up in trip, was coming home the best in the Trial was just left too much to do, and I am on at 2-1 for her to pick these off in the final furlong. Saeed bin Suroor told the Godolphin website: “I think stepping up to nine and a half furlongs is going to suit Last Sunset. She ran well behind Soft Whisper in the trial for the UAE 1,000 Guineas and I am hopeful of another good run.”
We are back on the Turf at 4.50 for the one-mile Group Two Zabeel Mile Sponsored By Al Tayer Motors at 4.50. There are a couple lining-up that I have talked about down the years but I have to be on my old mate D’bai. I tipped him last time when second in the Al Fahidi Fort over 7f here last month where he found a little traffic turning in, was out the back, and came home strongly but too late; same happened at Kempton in October when I tipped him and he was second again! It has been a while since he ran over eight furlongs but he has won over the trip and as this may well be run at a relatively sedate pace early the extra 220 yards should be fine. I am happily on at 11-4. Charlie Appleby said on the Godolphin website: “D’bai ran a very creditable race in the Al Fahidi Fort. The step up to a mile isn’t too much of a concern, bearing in mind he has won over the distance at Ascot and Pontefract in his younger days. He has never won over shorter than seven furlongs and we feel that his style of racing will be suited to this distance.”
The 5.35 is the Group Two Balanchine Sponsored By Range Rover over 1m1f again on the Turf track. Althea is short at 6-4 but she had most of these behind when winning the Group Two Cape Verdi over a mile here last month. This is a step-up in trip which is an unknown and she has the 3lb penalty to carry here so there are questions to answer albeit small ones. I tipped Summer Romance in the Cape Verdi but she was very keen early and duly run out of gas late on. She inadvertently set-up the race perfectly for those off the pace, Althiqa was last turning in, and it is interesting that that the hood goes on for the first time which should help her settle better. She remains the top-rated filly in the line-up and as I mentioned last month, she was mixing it with some very good one's last summer. Even though Buick has deserted her I haven't and think she may lead them a merry dance from the front IF settling better and hold them off this time. I am prepared to take on the jolly and have the 5-1. Talking to the Godolphin wesbite Charlie Appleby said: “We had a question mark over Althiqa getting a mile going into the Cape Verdi but she saw it out well. Nine furlongs with a penalty is another question but she is the class filly in the field and goes into this in great order. Summer Romance was a little disappointing in the Cape Verdi. She came out of the race in good order and we will run her in a hood this time. She is the filly who you would think would get this trip, although you might question it on the back of her last run.” A Full-sister to Farhh Last Look was well beaten in the Cape Verdi and is best watched.
The lucky last at 6.00 is the 6f Group Three Al Shindagha Sprint Sponsored By New Land Rover Defender on the Dirt. I tipped Gladiator King last time when beaten favourite in the G.3 Dubawi Stakes over C&D last month - I still can’t quite believe Switzerland won. It wasn’t a bad effort in third and will have put him cherry ripe for this all being well. I think he is perfectly drawn to track the likely early pace of Bochart and Important Mission and this time should leave the rest trailing in the final furlong. I don't like betting odds-on but missed the Evens William Hills went briefly and have 8-11.