IN SUMMARY: An interesting race despite the smaller than expected field but Godolphin may hold all the aces with BENBATI looking their number one pick of the three runners in their colours. A comfortable winner last time out he looks to be improving fast enough to take this event, though do keep an eye on Al Sahem who is a decent sort but may well improve for his first run in a long time.
1 AL SAHEM – The second highest rated in this field according to the handicappers off a mark of 113 and with plenty of room to improve again after just the seven starts in his native South Africa, with three wins at Turffontein and four second places. Last seen finishing second to Marinaresco in the Durban July, one of their biggest races of the season, he has moved from Sean Tarry to Mike de Kock for an International campaign and has to be of interest here though over six months off and with the South African form hard to gauge, it will be interesting to see how he gets on here, though Mike has already suggested that he will improve for the run.
2 BAY OF POETS – James Doyle rides for Charlie Appleby in the Godolphin colours but the son of Lope De Vegas has a bit to find judged on his recent sixth to Benbati when running on late over this course and distance when possibly left with a bit too much to do by William Buick that day. His two wins from thirteen starts have been in a Kempton maiden and the Listed Prix Pelleas at Clairefontaine in France, both of which leave him with a bit to find in this company. Jockey bookings suggest he has every chance but the formbook contradicts that theory.
3 SHARPALO – Local trained Ahmad bin Harmash may be aiming that little bit too high with the six-year-old son of Shamardal who is the lowest rated horse in this line-up. Last time out he finished fourth to Light The Lights here over a furlong further when looking a bit one-paced and he was well beaten by Benbati in the race before, nine lengths adrift of the winner. No reason why he should turn that form around (nine pounds worse off with Light The Lights here), and with no wins from seven starts on the turf, he is impossible to make a case for in this field.
4 BRAVO ZOLO – William Buick rides the second of the three Godolphin contenders for trainer Charlie Appleby and he has to be seen as a major player this afternoon. His three races here at Meydan have seen a win and two second places, the latest when beaten a length and a half by D’Bai last month when running on well over seven furlongs. He has won over slightly further at Wolverhampton back in February 2016, but is yet to prove he stays this far in this sort of company and he will need a career best to get to the front where it counts today.
5 EARNSHAW – Connections will be looking to pick up some more place money here having finished third in this race for the last two season but he hasn’t won a single race in nineteen starts since winning at Saint-Cloud when trained by Andre Fabre. Three lengths behind Benbati here last time out and only a pound better off today, he could run well with a top three spot a possibility, though a win does look likely to elude him once again.
6 LIGHT THE LIGHTS – Looks the Mike de Kock first string with Christophe Soumillon in the saddle again this afternoon following his neck win here over a furlong further here last month in a valuable handicap. You get the feeling Al Sahem is the better of the two long-term but this six-year-old holds the fitness edge, though whether that means he is good enough to win at Group Two level is another question, with no winning form at this sort of level since leaving South Africa, though his half-length second to Promising Run in this race last season makes him one to be very wary of this afternoon.
7 BENBATI – Carries the Godolphin first colours as the highest rated runner and the likeable and media friendly Oisin Murphy rides the son of Dubawi who seems likely to have more to offer at the tender age of four. His European form stands out with a second in the Dante Stakes at York last season as well as a win in the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot and a fifth to Enable in the King George when clearly failing to see out the mile and a half. Given four months off he returned here in the Group Three Singspiel Stakes with an effortless defeat of the highly regarded Emotionless and with any improvement, this race looks his to lose.