I can’t say I’ve been following loads of the racing going on in Dubai, which probably doesn’t fill you with much confidence reading these ‘tips’ but I’m going to try my best to hopefully pick out a few winners at the sports richest meeting. What I do know is that all the races in Dubai on Saturday have 96 hour declarations, which is bloody glorious.
11:45 Godolphin Mile
Since leaving Charlie Appleby, North America is 4-4 for new connections and was most impressive when winning by 7 lengths over track and trip last time. He likes to lead, as do a few others in this field which could be a negative if they start taking each other on. Heavy Metal is good but his last two defeats have come behind the aforementioned North America and is drawn wider than that rival which won’t help his cause. Sharp Azteca comes over from the US and is pretty quick, but this competition for an early led could prove crucial and find him out. Gifted Master is an interesting runner for Hugo Palmer, the dirt surface is an unknown but if he takes to it he could be overpriced with Ryan Moore on board and first time blinkers. I don’t have a strong view on the race but I feel it’s important to be up with the pace on this track.
12:50 Dubai Gold Cup
Vazirabad is the favourite to reclaim his title and his supporters will be encouraged by his reappearance behind the reopposing Beautiful Romance as this extra couple of furlongs ought to see those placings reversed. Big Orange was runner up in this last year and if you take the 6lb swing in the weights literally, he should have the beating of the jolly this time around. At the prices though I will opt for Sheikhzayedroad (EW) at a general 10/1. He won the Doncaster Cup and then the Long Distance Cup on Champions Day last season, despite being an 8 year old he seems to be improving and possibly needed the run last time out. Heartbreak City put up a gutsy performance in the Melbourne Cup and if back to that form can go close.
1:25 UAE Derby
Thunder Snow annihilated his opponents on his first appearance on a dirt track last time and I think he could be a class above these, hopefully this is a stepping stone to the 1000 Guineas (although this step up in trip would indicate otherwise). Epicharis is unbeaten on dirt and looks a very live threat to the market leader. Fly At Dawn and Top Score are both decent on their day, if the former can break well I would give him a strong chance. Lancaster Bomber and Master Plan both have low draws and could be dangerous, while Fawree doesn’t look the most straightforward but clearly has plenty of talent.
2:00 Al Quoz Sprint
The betting suggests this is a match between Ertijaal and Limato, I would probably agree. The former holds the course record over 5f and 6f, if this was over the minimum distance I would side with him but this is the first time this contest has been increased by a furlong. For that reason (and the prices) I prefer Limato, 6f and 7f are his best trips and I think he is unstoppable over them. Rain could be an issue as it looks like they could be in for some downpours over in Dubai, also Ertijaal has race fitness on his side but I’m banking on him running out of gas as Henry Candy’s charge sprints past him late on. I do always take note of what Joao Moreira is riding in these international races and so Amazing Kids is one to watch out for.
2:35 Dubai Golden Shaheen
I’m going to be honest with this one, I haven’t got a scooby.
3:30 Dubai Turf
We’re back in more familiar waters with this one. Zarak won nicely on his seasonal reappearance, but he was entitled to at odds on and I think 2/1 is skinny enough for a horse who hasn’t really built on his initial promise. At 3/1 Ribchester is my NAP of the meeting, his form is absolutely rock solid tying in with The Gurkha, Galileo Gold and the magnificent Minding. If the rain comes it won’t be a problem to him as he has won on soft before, the only concern would be this is the first time he has gone beyond a mile but I don’t think he should have a problem with the extra furlong. Deauville is the chosen mount of Ryan Moore and if he can reproduce his Dante and Arlington Million form he is in with a squeak. I feel Mutakayyef is seen to best effect on fast ground and while Decorated Knight is very good on his day I think he may find one too good, but he is a decent each way bet.
4:05 Dubai Sheema Classic
This looks like being a very competitive race despite the small field and you can make cases for most of them. Highland Reel is an admirable globetrotter but he could only manage fourth in this last year and the forecast won’t aid his cause. Seventh Heaven felt the effects of a busy campaign towards the end of last year and under performed at Ascot and the Breeders Cup, she could bounce back here in receipt of weight. Prize Money got the better of Postponed three weeks ago, but the Godolphin boys were out in force that day and boxed Andrea Atzeni in and he had a torrid time of things. I fully expect Postponed to win the battle this time as he is a world class performer and Roger Varian seems confident that he will put in a bold showing here. I’m really excited to see how Jack Hobbs runs, evidently he has bags of potential and we saw a glimpse of that again at Ascot on Champions Day but health hasn’t been his friend and he has struggled with injuries. He wears blinkers for the first time and if he’s back to his best he could upset the favourite.
4:45 Dubai World Cup
Now whisper this one quietly, Arrogate is as close to a good thing as a, well… good thing. So for that reason I’m happy to just watch him strut his stuff and enhance his claims of becoming one of the sports greats. If I was to have a little flutter, which I probably will, it would be on Mubtaahij (EW) as he is a model of consistency and his second in this race last race is strong form. It wouldn’t be a strong view but it does provide an alternative to the inevitable.