Best bets for the horseracing at the HH Amir Sword Festival Saturday 16th February 2023

Having had a bet in Dubai at Meydan on Friday at the Dubai Carnival, eyes cross the Persian Gulf to Qatar on Saturday for the big races at Doha on day three of their HH Amir Sword Festival. With some big prize pots up for grabs it’s no surprise a few Brits and Irish have packed the Factor 50 and have made the trip. Godolphin are quite well represented, team Gosden have sent a few out and Wathnan Racing are particularly well represented though new jockey James Doyle isn’t present having hurt his collar bone. Wathnan Racing is of course owned by the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, so it's no surprise he has plenty of runners on the card. It’s an early start with the first of the big races of at 9.45am our time. Hopefully I have four that will have nicked a few quid by the time I sit down to lunch. 

Best bets for the horseracing at Doha Racecourse

Archie Watson’s Brave Emperor thrives on travel, he won the Listed Prix de la Californie in the at Cagnes-Sur-Mer last term before traveling around Europe to pick up three G.3 races and the G.2 Premio Vittorio Di Capua at San Siro in November. The four-year-old goes mile Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Cup, a Local Group Two, at 9.45. His best form is on softer going though and it won’t be soft out here. Holguin, who was with Andre Balding last season, is considered with William Buick in the saddle but his best form is also arguably on softer conditions. Real World hasn’t looked the force of old in the Dubai Carnival recently but is one of the main principles that has form on the faster going conditions. Saeed bin Suroor said this week “Real World has come on mentally and physically since his latest run in the Al Fahidi Fort and returning to a mile will suit. We will have to see how he gets on but I have been happy with him at home.” Cairo is over from Ballydoyle and has to enter calculations. Second behind Paddington in the G.1 Irish 2,000 Guineas last year he didn’t get home at Leopardstown after that on heavy before finishing down the field in the G.1 The Longines Hong Kong Mile when last seen in December. He got a bit warm there and actually finished best of those that were on the blistering early pace. Aidan O'Brien and 'the lads' clearly think they can win some big prizes with him keeping him in training at four and I think he can take this and have a bit of the 9-4.

Listed Dubai Sprint winner (tipped on here) Mischief Magic goes in the 6f Dukhan Sprint (a local Group Three) at 10.55am. The Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint back in 2022 looked in fine fettle at Meydan earlier this month and though this looks tougher will surely be there or thereabouts at the finish. He has form on good-firm and firm so the underhoof conditions are of no concern. Charlie Appleby told the Godolphin website earlier this week “Mischief Magic has a good draw in five and I feel that the turning track will suit him. We know that he goes on the ground and he looks to be a live player on the back of his recent Listed win.” I am on at 2-1.

John and Thady Gosden trained Orne caught my eye in the entries for the Al Rayyan Mile at 11.30, a Local Group Two, but the Al Shaqab Racing owned three-year-old has never raced on ground this fast. Last seen winning the G.3 Horris Hill Stakes over seven at HQ on Heavy in November it will feel a bit different in Qatar on Saturday. Recent Wathnan Racing purchase Soldiers Gold won over seven-furlongs here in December having won a couple of races whilst in the care of Hugo Palmer before that. He had Mayo Neighs behind that day, another Wathnan Racing picked up and shipped out here with the meeting in mind clearly, and they are both also considered. Soldiers Gold is the most likely of the Wathnan Racing owned pair to appreciate the step-up in trip here and as he is proven on the going is the tentative pick ahead of the Gosden trained colt and I have 5-2.

The 1m4f Group Three 27th Al Rayyan Meeting - H.H The Amir Sword and Trophy is due off at 1.15pm here in the UK. Runners from across the globe line-up unsurprisingly including a bit of a favourite of mine in the shape of Rebels Romance. The multiple G.1 winner in 2022, including the Breeders Cup Turf, had a troubled 2023 running just four times, last seen winning the Listed Wild Flower Stakes at Kempton Park in December looking a bit more like his old self. Anywhere near his best and the six-year-old would win this hard held. Stall ten is a slight concern but the fast going isn’t and at his best he is a lot better than this field simple as that. Charlie Appleby said this week “Rebel’s Romance heads to Qatar in good form. He has a wide draw in stall 10 but he’s a big, galloping horse, so it shouldn’t be much of an issue. It was nice to get a confidence-boosting win into him at Kempton last time out and a repeat of his best form will make him the one to beat.” I am on at 9-2. Point Lonsdale looks a danger in slightly calmer waters than he was running in last year but twelve-furlongs does stretch his stamina even on a relatively tight track such as this. Simca Mille won a Conditions Race over 1m3f here last month, an unusual race with all three runners owned by Wathnan Racing, and could get in the shake-up. Haunted Dream and Jeff Koons he beat that day re-oppose so it’s fair to say connections would like to win this.

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