Best bets for the horseracing at Meydan Friday 22nd December 2023 – The Dubai Carnival

The Dubai Carnival at Meydan begins to kick into gear this Friday and it is no surprise to see a number of Godolphin entries on a card that contains two Group Two races and three Listed heats. There is a smattering of raiders from the UK and Ireland on show and it looks like a decent card. I have four fancies on the afternoon on what is being marketed as ‘Festive Friday’, it’s odds-on they don’t get any snow!  

Best bets for the horseracing at Meydan

They get underway at 1.30 our time with the G.1 Al Maktoum Challenge R1 for the Arabians. The Thoroughbreds are out at 2.05 our time on the Turf track with the Listed 5f Ertijaal Dubai Dash. Equilateral has won this twice in his career but could only finish eighth last season and frankly didn’t look the force of old throughout 2023. Mischief Magic is officially top-rated on 109 and drops down to the minimum trip here, did win the G.1 5½f Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint as a two-year-old. A member of my Dirty Dozen for 2023 he hasn’t lived up to expectations, was gelded after Royal Ascot, and a straight five-furlong all out sprint might be just what he needs; took a keen hold and ran too free round the turns of Lingfield in the 6f Listed Golden Rose Stakes last month. Charlie Appleby said on the Godolphin website earlier this week “We know that Mischief Magic is the class horse in the field if he manages to rekindle his juvenile form. We were pleased to get him back to winning ways at Kempton and then the race didn’t pan out how we expected at Lingfield. He came out of the race fine and we are heading into this with an open mind for the rest of the Carnival.” I am on at 3-1.

At 3.15 we have the 7f Listed Business Bay Challenge on the Turf track. A winner twice at the Carnival last season Danyah is top-rated but has to give weight away to all his rivals here under the race conditions. His win in the G.1 Al Quoz Sprint was a surprise last year, getting up in the shadow of the post and the penalty will make his task more difficult in this. San Donato has a habit of running well without winning and at seven is likely not getting any better. Mysterious Knight has been running at a higher level in the summer but truth be told his three runs as a three-year-old have been a bit disappointing following a fair two-year-old campaign which saw him win a Grade One race at Woodbine and a Group Three in France. If a few weeks in the sun have helped him find the old spark he would be winning this. Charlie Appleby said of his charge “Mysterious Night has been disappointing through his three-year-old season and I feel that a turning seven furlongs might suit – we might even consider dropping back further in trip with time. If he can rediscover his two-year-old form, it will hopefully make him very competitive.” I am prepared to give him another chance and I am on at 11-4.

The Group Two Al Maktoum Mile at 3.50 on the Dirt track looks all about one horse. Isolate is rated 12lb higher than any of the opposition, goes well here, and won the G.2 Godolphin Mile sponsored by One Zaabeel last year on Dubai World Cup Night. The only concern is if Doug Watson has him undercooked for his seasonal debut but that's unlikely. 5-6 is short but he is banker material. 

We are back on the Turf track at 4.25 for the Group Two 1m1f Al Rashidiya. Horses in the royal blue silks of Godolphin have dominated this in recent years and they have a four-strong challenge for the nine-furlong highlight. This looks a much more competitive affair with several in with a chance. I think it is interesting that William Buick has chosen the three-year-old Measured Time from the three entered by Charlie Appleby. The colt lost his unbeaten record when second on the Polytrack at Kempton in the 1m4f Listed Floodlit Stakes last month; he had two wins over a mile at Kempton at the start of his career before a win at HQ over 1m2f in the summer. Back on turf at a trip that should suit better than twelve-furlongs, and getting a little weight-for-age, he can get back to winning ways in this. He has something to find on official ratings but the likes of Real World, Ottoman Fleet and Alfareeq are unlikely to be improving at this stage of their careers and he could improve past them all; half-brother Rebels Romance certainly improved with age. I am taking a chance that he has improved as I am on at 5-2. On the Godolphin site Saeed bin Suroor said “This will be Real World’s first start at Meydan since the Dubai Turf but he came out of his run in Bahrain in good order. He has been working well and nine furlongs is a good trip for him.” Charlie Appleby said of his runners “Ottoman Fleet has enjoyed a nice break since his American campaign. He had a racecourse gallop along with Measured Time at Chelmsford before heading out to Dubai, and they both came out of it well. It looks a competitive race, but he should be bang there. We feel that Measured Time has sharpened up for his run at Kempton Park and we are removing the hood this time as well. This is a step up in quality but he goes into it in good form and we are confident that he can be a big player."

Be lucky