IN SUMMARY: The betting seems to tell us all we need to know with Gold Town a very short price and by far the likeliest winner for Charlie Appleby, but there is no value left to be found at odds-on and it may pay richer dividends to back stable companion LAST VOYAGE (Each Way) who is reported by his trainer to be in good heart at home, goes well fresh, and has apparently worked well on the dirt.
1 WAQQAD – NON-RUNNER
2 DAFFG – Won his only race so far on just his third start when taking a seven furlongs Conditions event here over seven furlongs last month but this is a huge step up in class. Silvestre de Sousa rides which is a big positive but he needs to find a stone plus to get involved in the finish with a minor placing surely the best connections can hope for.
3 ONE SEASON – Won on his debut here over seven furlongs but he was soon found out in the 2000 Guineas Trial on his only other race when beaten six and a half lengths last time out behind El Chapo and Racing Country at level weights. Plenty to do now to reverse that form but the lightly raced son of Showcasing will be happier upped to this mile and if ridden nearer to the early pace he may yet throw down a serious challenge.
4 GOLD TOWN – The son of Street Cry looks the clear Godolphin number one (of three entries) after hacking up on his first run in five months last time out here at Meydan. That was the first division of the divided 2000 Guineas Trial at the end of January when he quickly put four and a quarter lengths between himself and runner-up Roland Rocks after making all the running to avoid any kick-back and if the same tactics are employed today, he ought to prove very hard to catch with William Buick in the saddle once again.
5 EL CHAPO – The son of Lethal Force took the second division of the 2000 Guineas Trial here last month when holding off Godolphin’s Racing Country by half a length and with One Season and Gotti a long way in arrears. That was his first run in three months and his first since leaving Richard Fahey after two wins at Catterick and this a new career best for trainer Fawzi Abdulla Nass and although a major player, the stopwatch suggests Gold Town should have his measure.
6 RUA AUGUSTA – Still a maiden after six starts and despite three placed efforts this looks way beyond the abilities he has shown so far. Last time out he was beaten twenty-three lengths over course and distance here and behind some of these and although he looks like he may well have a win or two in him, it would be a major shock all round if he got off the mark in this contest.
7 LAST VOYAGE – Charlie Appleby’s three-year-old son of Eskendereya looks the stable second string but his trainer reports that he goes well fresh as witnessed by his debut win at Windsor last May, though he hasn’t won again in two races since here in the UK with a third at Sandown and more recently a fourth at Kempton in October. His trainer said that “Judged on pedigree, he should handle the dirt and he has trained well on it”, though if a Kempton fourth is good enough to win this then you would have to question whether it deserves its Group Three status.
8 RACING COUNTRY – Saeed Bin Suroor has the best race record here but this colt will need a career best to win here and needs to bounce back to his half length second to El Chapo to have any chance of success under jockey Pat Cosgrave. Since then he flopped when eighth, beaten twelve lengths by Wasim here over seven furlongs, though that was on grass and Saeed expects him to do a lot better stepped up in trip and returning to the dirt.
9 GOTTI – Antonio Fresu’s mount has plenty to find in this line-up and was seven lengths behind El Chapo, Racing Country, and One Season in January which makes him difficult to make a case for. His last run is best ignored when poorly drawn on the turf track here and twenty-eight lengths fifteenth of sixteen but he still has seven pounds or more to find from somewhere to take a hand in the finish now.
10 ROLAND ROCKS – Well-beaten behind Wasim and four others here last time out when not himself and he may be better judged on his four and a quarter length second to Gold Town which would clearly give him an each-way squeak. As a son of Red Jazz there has to be a question mark about him getting home over a fast run mile but if he does he is fully entitled to get involved in the battle for the places.
11 ROY ORBISON – Still a maiden after four starts with three places, has to concede weight here as he is officially a four-year -old (born October 2014), and that looks to be getting close to making his task impossible here. Last time out he was only beaten a length and three-quarters by the ex-Irish Yulong Warrior but it would be a surprise were than form anywhere near to good enough today.
12 BLUE LAUREATE – Formerly trained by Clive Cox and a maiden winner at Doncaster and confidently expected to do better for his first run in four months when over twelve lengths adrift of Gold Two here over seven furlongs. Doug Watson will know how to get the very best out of the son of Poet’s Voice and if Sam Hitchcott can keep him nearer the early pace (he got too far adrift last time to have any chance), then he may well surprise a few of these up the home straight.
13 LOYAL SOLDIER – We are getting up to the high numbers in the draw now which can be a distinct disadvantage here and as the son of Colonel John is still a maiden he clearly has an awful lot to find today. He is undoubtedly getting better with experience and was beaten less than two lengths over the seven furlongs here last time out, but maidens aren’t supposed to win races of this calibre and he seems likely to go off at a big race this afternoon.
14 MEQDAAM – Another maiden with a poor draw in the fourteen stall and beaten thirty-eight length last time out here in a maiden behind Yulong Warrior. Held by Roy Orbison on that form but his earlier efforts suggest he is better than that looked, but surely not good enough to get involved in the finish here.
15 DOUBLET – Formerly trained by Mark Johnston and a dual winner at Epsom on the turf but yet to repeat anything near to that sort of form here in Dubai and fourteen lengths behind Gold Town here last time out with no obvious excuses. May well do a lot better when or if connections return him to the turf and really hard to fancy in this line-up on this surface.
16 NEW ARCH – Three runs already this year with a tenth place in his first two starts here over seven furlongs followed by a nine and a quarter length third to Yulong Warrior. Held on that form and may well do a lot better if connections send him handicapping now and lower his sights to something he can win.