IN SUMMARY: An interesting race as you would expect in the build up to World Cup night and with plenty of serious challengers. D’Bai looks good and holds plenty of these on recent form, while Mike de Kock’s Noah From Goa is expected to mount a very serious challenge, but it may be worth taking a risk on the fitness of last year’s winner CHAMPIONSHIP who is a class act at his best and returns today from injury. His trainer reports him to be in good shape and that may well be just about enough to see him home in front here, with Silvestre de Sousa in the saddle once again.
1 CHAMPIONSHIP – The undoubted rising star of locally trained thoroughbreds last season with an easy win in this contest followed by victory in the Zabeel Mile. Sadly, injury ruled him out of both Super Saturday and Dubai World Cup night and he hasn’t been seen now in 350 days, but trainer Ahmad bin Harmash seems to think he has him pretty straight and ready to run, and he has won first time out in the past. Looks a class act at his best and may well be worth the risk at the prices here with the excellent Silvestre de Sousa back in the saddle once again.
2 D’BAI – The first of three Godolphin owned runners here with Charlie Appleby’s four-year-old looking to use his fitness advantage to his benefit here after a win over this course and distance in a valuable handicap on his first run since last October. He will need a career best to take this with a Listed race at Pontefract his previous highlight, but he does seem to be improving and won’t be far away again at the finish here.
3 JANOOBI – Mike de Kock does well at the Dubai Carnival which makes the four-year-old worthy of a closer look. Jim Crowley rides the son of South African sire Silvano who has only had the one run away from his homeland when a distant twelfth and last of the finishers in a six-furlong handicap and he clearly needs to offer up a lot more than that to get competitive here. That was his first run in seven months so he seems sure to improve, but on that form he has a lot to find and others appeal a lot more at present in this field.
4 RICHARD PANKHURST – Formerly trained in Newmarket by John Gosden he has only had the one race for up and coming local trainer Salem bin Ghadayer when ten lengths adrift of D’bai and as he meets the winner on seven pounds worse terms here he is impossible to make a sensible case for. He does have Group Two form from the UK after winning the Hungerford Stakes at Newbury in 2016 but he hasn’t won again since in seven starts and looks likely to start an outsider here.
5 DREAM CASTLE – Pat Cosgrave rides for Saeed Bin Suroor in the Godolphin colours but needs to conjure up a career best from the Frankel colt who won on his debut at Doncaster to take his maiden, but hasn’t won since despite a good fifth to Churchill in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket last May. The betting suggested he was plenty fit enough on his return to action here when sent off the 9/4 joint favourite before being beaten seven and a half lengths here in a mile handicap when never really put in the race to challenge, and he needs to find a few pounds of improvement on that to take a hand in a race of this class.
6 JUNGLE CAT – The third of the Godolphin trio here with James Doyle in the saddle and a serious contender on the pick of his form. He has won here at Meydan twice, both over six furlongs, but saw out the seven well enough to win at Haydock last July so the trip may not be an issue. Only beaten a length and three-quarters when sixth to Talaayeb in the Group Three City Of York Stakes when last seen in August, he needs to step up on that to take a hand here, but may yet run well enough to challenge for the places.
7 AKEED CHAMPION – Satish Seemar will have the six-year-old ready to run for his life here, but the form book suggests that even at his very best this will be beyond him. His only wins since leaving Richard Fahey in March 2016 have been in Abu Dhabi which is generally speaking a class below Meydan (for now), and after being beaten over seven lengths by D’bai last time out (and he meets that rival on nine pounds worse terms here), he ought to struggle to get involved in the finish.
8 NOAH FROM GOA – Looks to be the Mike de Kock first string today, and after finishing third in this race last season connections will know exactly what is expected. Mike reports he has come on for a good two and a quarter length third to D’bai here on his first run in eleven months, and as he is three pounds better off with the winner today a bold run is confidently expected with a place the bare minimum expected now.
9 HORNSBY – In good form lately with a win and a second here in his last two starts but both were handicaps and this will prove an awful lot tougher. Beaten a length when stepped up to a mile last time, it wasn’t the trip that caught him out (he ran on strongly if a little too late) and if that is as good as he is then he may well need to return to handicap company before he wins his fourth race, and second since leaving the Charlie Appleby yard.