IN SUMMARY: One of the tougher races to call regardless of the prices but Saeed Bin Suroor is known to think that DON’T GIVE UP is better than a handicapper and that he can go on to compete successfully in group company. If that is the case he can win this and so so readily under Belgian jockey Christophe Soumillon.
1 ETIJAAH – Loves it round here with five course and distance victories to his name but he does have to give weight away which won’t make life any easier. Doug Watson will expect the eight-year-old to build on his well-beaten sixth last time out and if he can repeat his December form then he still arrives here with every chance under the excellent Jim Crowley.
2 SALTARIN DUBAI – A winner of three races in Argentina at up to Group One standard he hasn’t found life as easy since arriving at the Satish Seemar stable in November via Mike de Kock and the chestnut gelding was last seen finishing second to Don’t Give Up in a course and distance handicap for his best run in some time. No real reason why he should reverse that form here but looks to be getting back to his very best at last.
3 ALABASTER – Inclined to fall out of the stalls and take a while to get in to top gear but he ran his best race in some time when third to Don’t Give Up over course and distance last time out, beaten three and a half lengths at the line. Seven pounds better off today which will bring them a lot closer at least and looks to have solid each way chances under jockey Pat Cosgrave.
4 GALLES – In decent form at Jebel Ali recently with a second to Montsarrat in a Listed race over this trip last month. Generally speaking the form there doesn’t hold up at Meydan in better class and it would be a shock were the four-year-old to prove good enough to win this afternoon.
5 DON’T GIVE UP – Clearly the Godolphin first string after two wins out of two so far this season over this course and distance with an easy tow length victory off four pounds less last time out. Sneaking up the handicap for trainer Saeed Bin Suroor but may have one or two more handicaps left in him yet. Christophe Soumillon keeps the ride and a big run is clearly expected.
6 ACTIVE SPIRIT – Four wins here prove he handles the track but he hasn’t been at his best of late with a fifth to Don’t Give Up here last time out when seeming to cry off close home. Beaten eighteen lengths that day he has an awful lot more to find now to get involved and as things stand we prefer to look elsewhere.
7 EL LOCO – First time on the dirt for Doug Watson’s German bred son of Lope De Vega who has won a £2000 race at Cologne which hardly stands out in this field and leaves him with a lot of work to do to get involved in the finish. Twenty lengths behind Blair House on his only run in Dubai over a furlong shorter last month and likely to go off at a big price here.
8 OUR LAST SUMMER – NON-RUNNER.
9 JUPITER LIGHT – A winner at Nottingham in October on his last start for John Gosden and with just the one run in Dubai since changing yards when a nine and three-quarter length fourth to Don’t Give Up over course and distance. Five pounds better off with the winner but that seems unlikely to be enough to reverse those placings.