Evening/Morning all depending on when you’re reading this, it’s Calum here with a very rare blog post, even more rare on the OTOH site! I’ve had a lot of people ask me my fancies for the Dubai World Cup meeting, so thought it would be better to get a preview done, along with selections in the Theyoungracegoer style.
12:20 – GODOLPHIN MILE SPONSORED BY MEYDAN SOBHA (Group 2) (Dirt) (3yo+)
I have a good antepost look to this race already, with Sloane Avenue and Maftool in the book already. The vibes surrounding Noseda’s colt aren’t brilliant, but he did have a recent prep and was obviously second in this last year, when covering a lot of ground from a wide draw. Maftool looks set to run a big race. He impressed me when winning last time on yard debut, the gelding of him looking to make the difference and connections won this with Tamarkuz last year, another former Godolphin horse.
However it’s hard to see past MARKING who despite clearly having his quirks, it’s easy to forget he only made his debut 6 months ago and the progress he’s made since then is truly remarkable. Only Runhappy has been able to beat in when he’s finished his races so far, and the switch to the 1m race looks the right decision. He could well have too much class for these. Elsewhere One Man Band will give it a good go from the front from stall 1 and has frame claims.
12:55 – DUBAI GOLD CUP SPONSORED BY AL TAYER MOTORS (Group 2) (Turf) (3yo+)
The one race on the card that i’m really quite undecided on. Vazirabad will win this on form, he has clearly the best form already, but also gets a handy weight-for-age allowance, is versatile regards ground and could well have more to offer too. But he is pretty quirky too, he carries head awkwardly in races, has played up in trackwork and after not travelling over too well, is a risky proposition at a short price.
Manatee is a top performer and this will be a far more suitable 2m than what the Royal-Oak test was for him, when well behind Vazirabad. I still get the feeling Big Orange will be done for a bit of toe in a race which is so often about tactical speed, while there’s a few who are likely to go forward as well so he may not get his own way as such. Maybe HAAFAGUINEA can be the one, I wasn’t really a fan of his originally but he’s winning me over. His Meydan record is superb and though he has stamina to prove but is very much bred to stay, even taking into account this isn’t a true test at 2m anyway and can definitely outrun his odds.
Advice – 1pt e/w Haafaguinea @12/1 Sportsbook (11’s Hills, 10’s general)
1:35 – UAE DERBY SPONSORED BY THE SAEED & MOHAMMED AL NABOODAH GROUP (Group 2) (Dirt) (3yo)
Not a strong renewal and POLAR RIVER will take all the beating. She was superb on her first 3 starts, and though that air of invincibility took a knock in the Oaks last time, she still won with plenty in hand despite not really looking herself. I think she’ll bounce right back now, and it’s not like the challenge is that much stronger here. None of the Japanese runners, probably led by Lani, truly convince and neither does US raider Frank Conversation, which probably leaves Vale Dori to chase her home again, as she is at least open to improvement for a top yard. I would recommend a double with Marking, as they look the most likely winning favourites on the card to me.
Advice – Marking/Polar River 3pt win double @3.22/1 Bet365
2:10 – AL QUOZ SPRINT SPONSORED BY MEYDAN HOTELS & HOSPITALITY (Group 1) (Turf) (3yo+)
I love a Sprint and this is a belter of a contest. Ertijaal is an obvious starting point, he has looked superb in demolishing a pair of C&D handicaps this term and plenty points to him being the one to beat. I certainly won’t be putting you off him and I will very likely have him covered when it comes to betting in the race. The Hong Kong pair are huge players, and though Peniaphobia will be the obvious one to many, I readily prefer NOTLISTENIN’TOME who has come in from the ridiculous prices earlier this week, but is still very backable. He’s been much improved this term, impressing in particular when tackling 5f at Sha Tin (3/3 this season) and this test looks ideal, with Ryan Moore a notable booking too.
Peniaphobia went mighty close last year and December’s Hong Kong Sprint winner is sure to do so again. He was touched off by Sole Power 12 months ago in a race that could not have worked out any better for him. He ran a stormer in the trial and will get a strong pace to run at again, but he’s getting on and I do have a hunch he may have left his race behind a touch that day.
Buffering, Lady Shipman and Muthmir have all got to be considered, the former still very classy despite also getting on. The latter pair should relish this test and usually give their running. The vibes surrounding Goldream are poor, and I couldn’t back him after a very ordinary return in the trial, so JUNGLE CAT appeals of those at a bigger prices. I’d be a touch surprised if he won, but he ran a massive race in the trial when touched off bizarrely by Fityaan. He’s probably best at 6f, but this will be a good test and he’s not far off a few of these based on what he’s shown this Carnival.
Advice – Notlistenin’tome 3pts win @13/2 Paddy Power & Sportsbook
Jungle Cat 0.5pt e/w @20/1 general
2:45 – DUBAI GOLDEN SHAHEEN SPONSORED BY GULF NEWS (Group 1) (Dirt) (3yo+)
A race which revolves around XY Jet, the American challenger who has won his last 5 races, the general trait being he goes off like a scalded cat from the start. He’s well drawn to adopt such tactics on a speed orientated track and many feel that will be far too much for the rest of these to handle. It very well could be, but there’s enough there to think he’s worth taking on given how one-dimensional he is, added in the fact he obviously won’t be on medication. Basically it’s a race I’d want to back something e/w in instead.
Neither of Confrontation, Muarrab or Rich Tapestry appeal all that much. Confrontation is only really here because of Marking, for all he’ll be suited by the strong pace at the trip that the favourite is sure to offer. Muarrab had everything go right on Super Saturday and probably doesn’t here, and Rich Tapestry is always best fresh considering his bleeding problems, for all he should still run better than he did 3 weeks ago. Super Jockey went close 12 months ago and though not seen on dirt since, does certainly make appeal.
But the old boy REYNALDOTHEWIZARD is the one I really like at the prices. The winner of this in 2013, he looked better than ever on return when taking his dirt record to 3/3 here, and again ran well last time when a wide trip and a slow tempo were against him. I like the fact they’ve come here fresh and with a strong pace guaranteed, I think he’s a huge e/w player. Add in a very backable price and we’re in business!
Advice – Reynaldothewizard 1.5pts e/w @ 14/1 Hills & Paddy Power
3:45 – DUBAI TURF SPONSORED BY DP WORLD (Group 1) (Turf)(3yo+)
A two-horse race probably according to the market, with Tryster who has impressed visually in winning both his starts this Carnival, heading the betting. It’s not hard to pick holes in that form, the Jebel Hatta he won last time was clearly not a very good race for the grade, and this is a bigger and better field, but his turn of foot is superb and he is clearly capable of winning this. So too is Intilaaq, who I rate very highly and rightly comes here instead of trying the dirt but connections have much bigger targets with him this summer, so I can look elsewhere.
Real Steel will be fine with the trip and has mixed it with some of the best in Japan, so should be thereabouts. Forries Waltz, The Corsican and Euro Charline all have some claims or other, but it’s VERY SPECIAL that I want to be on. Her form isn’t the easiest to weigh up, given she’s made all in fillies’ Group 2 events the last twice, but she beat Euro Charline fair and square last time to me and is simply just a smart and progressive filly. Connections won this with a similar type in Sajjhaa a few years ago (who also landed the Jebel Hatta) and do not be surprised to see her run a massive race. The rest really do have it to find.
Advice – Very Special 1.5pts e/w @14/1 general
4:20 – DUBAI SHEEMA CLASSIC PRESENTED BY LONGINES (Group 1) (Turf) (3yo+)
The race of the night for me this, and that’s nothing against the World Cup but it’s on turf and it encapsulates everything I love about International Racing. I’ve been a huge fan of Postponed since his Voltigeur win in 2014. He was always going to be one who improved with age and he could not have been more impressive on Super Saturday. If in the same form he’ll take plenty of beating, but in the form of DURAMENTE there could be a horse who can.
He looked truly exceptional when winning the Japanese 2000 Guineas, and though more workmanlike in the Derby still got the job done with a bit in hand. He looked well over his injury (which foiled an Arc bid) when giving weight and a beating, albeit a narrow one, on return last month (looked value for plenty extra) and Dubai has often been the scene of some huge performances from Japanese runners. Victoire Pisa won the big one in 2011, but most memorably was the big race double of Just A Way and Gentildonna in 2014, the former who demolished his Duty Free field and the latter who landed this race under Ryan Moore 40 minutes later. There’s no doubt Duramente could be capable of putting up a huge performance when asked, and this could well be the time for it.
Anddddd the stage is set for a Highland Reel win now of course. I’ve been on the wrong end of races he’s won a couple of times now, but he’s such an admirable horse and this is remarkably the seventh country he’s raced in. Dariyan remains with potential but has a bit to find with Highland Reel from Hong Kong and was brushed aside by Postponed in the trial. The rest will be surprise winners.
Advice – Duramente 3pts win @10/3 Bet365, Skybet & BetVictor
5:00 – DUBAI WORLD CUP SPONSORED BY EMIRATES AIRLINE(Group 1) (Dirt) (3yo+)
Finally to the big one and it’s certainly not a race that disappoints on paper. We’ve seen some head-scratching results of this race, but I don’t see that happening this year. California Chrome will obviously be a hugely popular winner and he’s had a better prep this time than he did when second to Prince Bishop last year. He’s sure to go well.
But I can see a huge effort being needed to win and no doubt FROSTED has far more potential than him in that regards. American Pharoah overshadowed all last year, but this could be the time to shine for Kiaran McLaughlin’s 4-y-o, who mixed it with the best throughout the campaign and really impressed when bolting up in his trial last month. For a Godolphin-owned colt (and don’t underestimate that!), this has surely been on the radar for a long time and I really think he’s the clear one to beat, something which isn’t reflected in the market.
The US challenge is further boosted by Mshawish, who not long has raced on dirt but has looked a natural thus far, while the consistent Hoppertunity and also Keen Ice are interesting, the latter in particular if there is a pace meltdown. I don’t think that’s in any way a given though. Special Fighter dictated at a crawl when winning on Super Saturday and i’ll be shocked if he went close, Vadamos is interesting on dirt but MUBTAAHIJ appeals most of those at big prices. He’s not come close to the heights of last year’s Carnival, but his whole campaign has revolved around this race and he maybe has taken some time to get over the whole Triple Crown campaign, when he was far from disgraced. He badly needed his return and the form of his last effort is totally worthless, thus easy to forget. I’ll be surprised if he didn’t run much better here.
Advice – Frosted 3pts win @5/2 general
Mubtaahij 1pt e/w @16/1 general