IN SUMMARY: Godolphin have a very strong hand here as you would expect with both trainers talking up their charges accordingly and race tactics could yet play a part. With all the talk about the “boys in blue” it looks as if FOLKSWOOD may yet be able to improve past his better fancied rivals here, and Charlie Appleby seems to suggest he is getting better all the time which is good enough to give him a winning chance.
1 PROMISING RUN – The first of the Godolphin team for Saeed bin Suroor and the winner of her last two starts here over the mile and then over this trip when holding off Furia Cruzada by a short head. She takes on the colts and geldings here any may not find this quite as easy but is a decent enough daughter of Hard Spun who could surprise a few under jockey Harry Bentley.
2 FOLKSWOOD – Charlie Appleby seems very happy with the progress being shown by the son of Exceed And Excel who finished a neck second to Decorated Knight here last year, but may well be getting better with age. His one run in Dubai after a two length fifth at Flemington in the Emirates Stakes in Australia saw a short head win over a furlong further, but he is said to have improved from that and ought to mount a serious challenge again this afternoon.
3 BLAIR HOUSE – A second runner for the Appleby stable and a winner last time out over course and distance. That was a handicap and this is clearly an awful lot tougher to win but James Doyle gets better in the saddle with every year of experience and in the Godolphin blue, further improvement is expected, though surely a place is the best that anyone can realistically hope for in this company.
4 RODAINI – Not necessarily at his best on the dirt meaning the return to the turf may well see a far better effort. His last wins was in a Class Three event at Ripon for trainer Simon Crisford and although he has scored in Listed class back in the UK at Doncaster this is a totally different proposition and it will be a major shock if he can get on the scene at the finish today.
5 GM HOPKINS – A decent sort in all the top handicaps when in the care of John Gosden in Newmarket, but highly unlikely to be competitive moved up in to Group One class. One run in Dubai this season saw him finish over four lengths behind Janoobi with Whisky baron in fourth and on that form he has an awful lot more to find to even be considered here.
6 EQTIRAAN – His colours suggest he is the Handan Al Maktoum second string with Dane O’Neill in the saddle perhaps confirming that view, and after a run of eight races without success that seems sure to be the case. He wasn’t beaten too far in a Listed race in Abu Dhabi last time out but that leaves him with over a stone to find with some to have any chance of challenging.
7 LESHLAA – Back to the Godolphin team with the son of Street Cry who was only beaten a head by Folkswood last time out when sent off the 7/4 favourite. His colleague is expected to improve for that race, so this will not be as easy by any stretch, but he only a four-year-old and may yet have more to offer with a place a possibility under Pat Cosgrave who rides this course as well as anyone.
8 JANOOBI – Mike de Kock’s five-year-old beat Championship by three-quarters of a length with Whisky Baron in fourth and Gm Hopkins back in seventh, form which makes him a major player again this afternoon. That was only his eighth career start so there may well be even more to come and if Jim Crowley can find him a run then he seems sure to challenge for the first three home again today.
9 WHISKY BARON – One of the top horses in South Africa after beating Legal Eagle by a length and a half in the Sun Met at Kenilworth in January 2017 before being sent off on a World tour. Entitled to need the run when sixth at Newmarket in the Joel Stakes at Newmarket last September he has been geared up for a Dubai campaign and will know a lot more after a three length fourth to Janoobi last month and looks to have a decent chance of success now on his very best form.
10 BENBATI – Seen as the Godolphin first string and carries the colours accordingly with Oisin Murphy tasked with doing the steering. The winner of two out of two over course and distance at group Three and then Group Two level he is improving fast and is a force to reckon with, though he does look poorly priced in a competitive race that he needs to improve again to win this at level weights.
11 ABOVE N BEYOND – A winner at Kempton and Haydock for Tom Dascombe but nothing in his two starts in Dubai following a seven month lay-off. Entitled to be cherry-ripe now but not really up to this class and likely to return an “also-ran” today.