IN SUMMARY: Everyone assumes that French raider Vazirabad will improve for his return to action when second here to RARE RHYTHM but they are ignoring the chances of the winner who will also improve for the run which seems inaccurate. If Godolphin’s gelding stays the trio which is the big unknown then he can put his home advantage to good advantage here, and he looks the better value to come home in front.
1 DAL HARRAILD – William Haggas is clearly still a trainer very much on an upward curve having won the Lincoln at Doncaster last weekend and in Dal Harraild he certainly has an interesting challenger. His six wins have been at up to Listed class so connections are asking him to take another step or two up the ladder here, but he was impressive on the Chelmsford all-weather last time when putting ten lengths of daylight between himself and his nearest challenger and has to be considered seriously with Ryan Moore booked to ride.
2 RUN TIME – A winner at Gulfstream over two miles in late December it came as no great shock to anyone when he found the mile and three furlongs way too short for him last time out at the same track when a distant tenth beaten over twelve lengths at the lien with no obvious excuses. Sure to do better back up at a more realistic trip but it will be a major surprise if he is anywhere near to good enough to compete with the Europeans on that form.
3 LOS BARBADOS – Another outsider in this competitive field, this time for trainer Fawzi Abdulla Nass who has Adrie de Vries’ invaluable assistance from the saddle. His two wins from sixteen starts have been in a maiden and a handicap with a second to Prince Of Arran over course and distance last time out. That is simply not good enough in this company and appears to leave him with at least ten pounds to find with the favourite which looks far too much at this stage.
4 PARVIZ – A German challenger looking to land this Group Two contest for trainer Waldemar Hickst after finishing a decent enough length and a quarter second to Garlingari at Cagnes-sur-Mer in late February when keeping on at one pace over the mile and a half. Conditions will be much quicker here but then again, he is stepping up to this sort of trip for the first time which may well bring improvement though there is still a thought that he may find the going way too fast for him today.
5 VAZIRABAD – The winner of this race in 2016, and in 2017, and with every chance of landing his hat-trick this afternoon with Christophe Soumillon in the saddle once again. Last year he finished second in his prep run here before winning this and he did exactly the same thing when beaten a length and three-quarters by Rare Rhythm here in exactly the same race but he will be spot-on now and has the form in the book for years now to suggest it will take something special to lower his colours this afternoon.
6 JANSZOON – Two wins at the beginning of this season here in mile and a quarter handicaps have been followed by two places from three starts including a three-quarter length second to Light The Lights in a Group Three in Abu Dhabi when running on well over the mile and three furlongs. As a son of Dubawi there is no guarantee that he will get this trip, especially not in this class and his rivals will all make sure they make this stamina test to negate his already slim chances.
7 SHEIKHZAYEDROAD – David Simcock has already won a total of over £1,122,000 in prize money with the nine-year-old gelding who defies his breeding with wins at up to two and a quarter miles and in Group One company on occasion. At his best he would be a major player here, and he didn’t look as if he was finished with just yet when a slowly away third to Rare Rhythm on his return to action and he may yet reward each way punters here with the expected improvement and a level break.
8 PRINCE OF ARRAN – Charlie Fellowes trains the son of Shirocco who arrives here after finishing a distant (twenty-four lengths) eighth of eleven to Rare Rhythm in the recognised trial for this contest. He has won over this trip the race before and should be happier than he was over the mile and three-quarters last time but has too much to make up on that form and is hard to make any kind of a sensible case for now.
9 RED GALILEO – The first on the racecard of five Godolphin runners but not necessarily the number one pick for his owners though the experienced Gerard Mosse in the saddle can’t be a bad thing. Yet win after three starts this season and a losing run stretching back to January 2017, he looks up against it here having never own over this trip or in this class and it seems fair to say that others have better chances on paper at least.
10 FRONTIERSMAN – The racing colours suggest he may yet be the Godolphin number one for trainer Charlie Appleby and jockey James Doyle and he certainly looks to have a decent enough chance. His four wins from fifteen starts peak with a victory in a Listed race at Newmarket but he put in what looks like a career best last time when only beaten a head by Coral Eclipse winner Hawkbill here over a mile and a half on his first run here and if he can repeat that effort here over this trip then he won’t be far away at all at the finish.
11 AL SAHEM – Top class at home in South Africa for Sean Tarry but yet to win since sent on his travels now he is with Mike de Kock, but that doesn’t mean he can be written off just yet. Three starts here at Meydan have seen him well beaten over trips from nine to twelve furlongs but he tries two miles for the first time here, and it will be interesting to see if it brings any improvement from the son of Silvano even if on breeding his stamina has to be in question.
12 BIG ORANGE – Stays this trip and a lot further and won the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot over half a mile further in June last year. Two runs since saw a second in the Goodwood Cup and an eleventh on going way too soft for him on Champions Day back at Ascot, but the going today will be much more to his liking though the lack of a run since last October surely has to cony against him now, Frankie Dettori on board, or not.
13 NATURAL SCENERY – Back to Godolphin and Pat Cosgrave rides the son of Dubawi who is now without a win in eight starts stretching back to February last year. ten lengths behind Rare Rhythm that form leaves him held by three rivals here, and unless he finds dramatic improvement from somewhere then he will struggle to hit the top four home this afternoon.
14 RARE RHYTHM – Holds plenty of these after winning the Nad Al Sheba Trophy here with Vazirabad, Sheikhzayedroad, Natural Scenery, Red Galileo, and Prince Of Arran in behind. That was over a mile and three quarters and he is up in trip today, but he wasn’t stopping that day and with William Buick in the saddle he will be there or thereabouts at the finish again today if he stays.
15 TORCEDOR – Not seen since finishing second to Order Of St George on Champions Day at Ascot last October and although Jessica Harrington can get them as fit as anyone, this looks a huge ask after a long break. He did win very easily at Leopardstown first time out last year which is a positive for his supporters but the stable have had no winners from seventeen runners in the last two weeks and others have to appeal more in this line-up.
16 GOLD STAR – The fifth and final Godolphin runner here with Jim Crowley in the saddle, and one of the biggest prices in this field. Last time out he finished third to Hawkbill and Frontiersman when never really placed to challenge and running on after the front two had flown. May do better if he has the early speed to sit nearer the pace, but his draw won’t help him, even over this extended trip.