12 runners go to post for this extremely competitive Listed contest on Meydan’s turf track. The winner takes away a healthy £71,428 and the race distance is 1m 1f. Read on to find out what our tip is along with our extensive runner by runner guide which will help you learn more about each individual runner.
IN SUMMARY: Mike De Kock won this contest with Mushreq in 2014 and he has three entrants in the shape of Ertijaal, Light The Lights and Sanshaawes so the South African needs to be respected. His biggest chance is Ertijaal, an Australian bred six year old who hasn’t won in eight starts but has run in some top quality fields. He chased home Real Steel when a gallant 4th in the Group 1 Dubai Turf last March so he will find this sort of level a lot easier if he can find his best form.
Our vote goes to CHAMPIONSHIP, an Exceed And Excel gelding trained by the Bin Harmash stable in the UAE. Formerly trained by Richard Hannon in the UK, he won a Doncaster handicap before he set sail for the Middle East and he made an immediate impact on his belated Meydan debut, running away a 5 length winner of a good handicap. He is a horse going from strength to strength and improved again to land the Listed National Day Cup at Abi Dhabi last month. Colm O’Donoghue keeps the ride and with a good draw in Stall 6, he will take a bit of stopping.
1 ERTIJAAL – Not to be confused with the Ertijaal running in the 4.15pm in the same colours, same jockey (Jim Crowley) and both are currently favourite, this one is Australian bred. One of three runners in the race for the mighty Mike De Kock who is no stranger to this part of the world, he has run big races in Group 1 company in recent starts and this drop in class could be the answer. A reproduction of his 4th in the Dubai Turf would see him go very close and he is well drawn in Stall 1.
2 LIGHT THE LIGHTS – Another of the De Kock runners and this is his first run for the yard, partnered by the wise Frenchman Christophe Soumillon. The five year old was a Grade 2 winner over this trip on turf at Keeneland in January 2016 and although he has a 341 day absence to overcome, he is in very shrewd hands and it would be no surprise to see him run a huge race. Good draw in Stall 2 but Ertijaal looks the stable’s main hope on paper.
3 SILENT ATTACK – Pat Cosgrave returns to Dubai after he agreed to pay the £45,000 fine to the Emirates Racing Authority, a dispute that has been on-going since 2014 when he received a 6 month ban for improper riding. He is now going to put that episode behind him and he rides this Saeed Bin Suroor runner who might lack the experience of some of his rivals. However, he receives the two pound 4 year old age allowance which will aid his cause. A winner of a Newmarket handicap last summer over the mile and a close second in a Veliefendi Grade 2 in Turkey, he will have to up his game to land this.
4 LONG WATER – Won an average handicap here at Meydan over seven furlongs in November but he was way out of his depth stepped up to Listed level last month, beat 10 lengths by the impressive winner Fitzgerald. He looks thoroughly exposed and not even a good draw will give him much of a chance. Very easy to oppose.
5 DORMELLO – Chris Hayes makes the trip from Ireland to Dubai to try earn a few quid and this course and distance winner can’t be ruled out if he can put his best foot forward. The 9 year old horse by Dansili was tailed off last of the twelve runners over the mile here last month but that was his first run of the season so he may have just needed the run to blow the cobwebs away. Chris rode him to victory here last March and if he can get a good early position from a good draw, he has each way claims.
6 CHAMPIONSHIP – Ex Richard Hannon trained horse who has thrived since his move to the United Arab Emirates. He won first time out for this yard after a long lay-off in January 2016 and stepped up on that to win a Listed contest at Abu Dhabi last month, never troubled. The extra furlong is a slight concern but he seemed to have plenty left in the tank when last seen so we think he will see it out. Massive player.
7 NEED TO KNOW – One of two runners in the race for owner Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed Al Maktoum who also owns our selection, Championship. He saw off Heavy Metal in handicap company here over the mile in November but he will be outclassed stepped up in class today. He’s an exposed horse and would be a shock winner in this line-up.
8 EARNSHAW – Started out life in France with Andre Fabre and won his first two starts over a mile at Chantilly and Saint-Cloud. Chased home Planetaire in Listed company at Clairefontaine over this trip and then moved to the UAE to be trained by Bin Ghadayer. He was 3rd in a Meydan Group 2 on his first start for the yard behind Safety Check, form that would be good enough to win this if he could reproduce it but he never improved on that run. He has work to do to reverse the placings with Championship who beat him into 4th at Abu Dhabi last month.
9 MAFTOOL – Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum has two runners going for him in this race in the shape of this runner and Ertijaal, and they are currently favourite and second favourite in the betting. Formerly trained by Saeed Bin Suroor, he was victorious in a Newmarket Group 3 in 2014 and also has winning Group 3 form on the dirt here over a mile. He has to improve on recent form but if he recapture his best, he has to be a major contender.
10 GABRIAL – Exposed runner with 57 runs under his belt for the Richard Fahey stable but he is more than capable on his day and warrants plenty of respect for a trainer who knows the time of day. 9th of the 10 runners in the Group 1 Ascot Champion Stakes when last seen so this is a big drop in class. There are more likely winners in the race as he isn’t the easiest horse to win with but he shouldn’t be too far away.
11 SANSHAAWES – The last of the three runners trained by Mike De Kock and all three have solid place claims so the South African trainer should get some of the tasty prize-money up for grabs. The 7 year old may not be the horse of old but he retains enough ability to trouble this field. He has some impressive form in the book which includes 2nd in the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge here in 2014 and shouldn’t be under-estimated but his draw hasn’t been too kind.
12 QUEL ADVANTAGE – The complete outsider of the field and for very good reason. He is having his first run for Kuwait based trained Mr Bouresly and although he is well bred by Galileo, he certainly doesn’t possess any of his sire’s ability. The 7 year old has clearly had training problems with just the four runs under his belt at his ripe age and he will have to improve drastically on his 5th at Doha last time out to get involved.