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SUPER SATURDAY – Morning Action from Dubai.
Meydan Selections 3/10:
Super Saturday effectively mirrors World Cup Night without the additional and considerable international challenge. It is in effect a test for locally trained horses, a test that asks whether they can run fast enough to be competitive or even win on World Cup night and this year there are plenty of live World Cup night contenders to consider on a fiercely competitive card. Analysis of the card is skewed by the presence of horses trained by Salem Bin Ghadayer. He has had a tremendous World Cup Carnival with five winners but now a doping violation weighs heavily over him. He is allowed to have runners as this breach is the subject of an appeal but what are we to make of those runners? This is tricky for any analyst, particularly as he seems to have a few good chances on the card. From my point of view I believe it best to take their form at face value and leave the implications of the recent doping violation to the Emirates Racing Authority.
With two winners last week we are now up to 17 at the World Cup Carnival. Here are four more selections for you.
This horse is a class act in this field. Admittedly his classy form comes on turf but the dam’s side of his pedigree – she won the UAE Derby on dirt – gives plenty of encouragement. His Solario win at Sandown and his Jean Luc Lagardere and Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf form mark him out as being very useful and if he handles the dirt he will win. He holds an entry in the UAE Derby.
When this horse bolted up over six furlongs on dirt last time I stated that he was the best domestic sprinter we have seen so far in Dubai. Now he has a chance to cement that impression. He has blinding pace, ran a big time figure last time and even from stall eight should be able to bag the favoured inside rail. The only pace pressure he may get early in the race is from Jordan Sport, but he is a turf horse and this will be a different scenario. Two of his main rivals, Ravens Corner and My Catch, are drawn in the widest stalls which hinders their chances. Yalta can take advantage and go gate to wire.
This is the classiest horse we have seen so far at the Carnival. He has not yet run a big time figure but is surely capable of one. He is thriving in Dubai, having won the Singspiel Stakes and the Al Rashidiya and can now win the Jebel Hatta on his way to the Dubai Turf. He fired a remarkable sectional split for the last two furlongs of the Al Rashidiya, marking him out as a genuine Group One horse and he can prove it here.
9:55am (ET) Meydan: Thunder Snow
Thunder Snow is not a natural on dirt but he is a class act and his win in round 2 of the Maktoum Challenge is better than it looks on paper. He travelled wide that day and gave away plenty of ground and as I always say ground loss is a much ignored but vital factor when it comes to race analysis. He ground out a win there and in a field that is no stronger and over further he can book his place in the Dubai World Cup.
DIRECT FROM OVERSEAS
There’s no doubt that California Chrome is the hit attraction on Meydan’s card this week. His presence at morning trackwork has doubled the amount of press and general hangers-on in recent weeks and, as ever, his connections have been a pleasure to deal with.
There will be red faces, though, if the 2014 US Horse of the Year manages to get beaten in the ignominiously-titled Trans Gulf Electromechanical Trophy, otherwise known as the mile and a quarter handicap, on Thursday afternoon.
Curlin strolled home in a similar race when prepping for the World Cup in 2008, but there is reason to think that things might not be quite that easy for Chrome. Godolphin intend to make sure he has a race, and have placed apprentice Eddie Greatrex onboard Good Contact – second on his dirt debut – meaning that he receives eight and a half kilos from the Victor Espinoza’s Mount. Chrome should still win, and win well, but he might be tested, and the weight is something that his Triple Crown-winning rider, Victor Espinoza, is concerned about.
“The weight is a concern for me, because he’s never carried that much before, and 15, 20lbs can make a lot of difference to a horse. But most important is the race afterwards.”
That race, the World Cup, is one that got away from Espinoza last year, but he doesn’t seem to have too many regrets.
“He wasn’t 100 per cent, not like he is now,” he says, before adding that an extra Dubai prep is something of an unknown. “Hopefully it will help him just to run one race here, but really, who knows? I will tell you after the race.”
For everyone concerned, let’s hope that particular interview takes place in the winner’s enclosure.
The official feature is the Group 2 Zabeel Mile, which definitely lives up to standard. Safety Check won this last year but faces stronger rivals this time and he’s probably better over seven furlongs. Harry’s Son [Meydan, 16.45] is better off at the weights with him this time and this true miler has every chance of reversing the Al Fahidi Fort form, having apparently improved for that race.
It is interesting that Doug Watson steps One Man Band [Meydan, 15.00]back to seven furlongs in the opening handicap, but he should still be too strong, with Giftorm fancied to chase him home.
Marking [Meydan, 16.10] was all the rage before unseating James Doyle at the start in the Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint last time and he faces lesser company here, with a win needed to guarantee a Golden Shaheen run. Kifaah has had a tough campaign, but can pick up the second spot, with Kasb also of interest.
The ten furlong turf event is typically open, and Farraaj has been shaping as if a win isn’t far away. He doesn’t have many secrets, though, so this can go to Godolphin’s Think Ahead [Meydan, 17.20], who has been given just a 3lb rise for a tidy win last time over course and distance.
David Marnane has endured a slightly frustrating Carnival, but he can perhaps gain compensation with Jamesie [Meydan, 18.30], who has as good a chance as any of landing the closing turf dash, and has “sharpened up” since his run last time.