Well it’s March so it must be time for the Dubai World Cup meeting, and with our man there all week listening to the gossip and watching the horses work, the time has come to draw conclusions at one of the most competitive meetings imaginable and nominate the tips.
11.45am Godolphin Mile
The opening race is on the dirt and holds little interest from a betting perspective. Gifted Master intrigues for Hugo Palmer who has booked Ryan Moore to ride considering he has never even raced on the polytrack or tapeta, let alone on dirt. He likes to front run and will be kicking it back at all of his rivals if he can break smartly enough and if he handles it could be a danger to all but there are just too many unknowns to suggest a bet.
12.50pm Dubai Gold Cup
After a break for the opening ceremony (which will no doubt be spectacular and well worth a watch) we have the first turf race over two miles where Vazirabad (9/4) looks to have every chance of retaining his crown for French trainer Alain De Royer-Dupre, who picked up an excellence award Thursday night. After a good run over a mile and three quarters here last month to blow away the cobwebs, he will be spot on now and much as a big run is expected from Sheikzayedroad, the French raider seems the more likely winner.
1.25pm UAE Derby
Back to the dirt now and the word here is that Thunder Snow is close to unbeatable. Saeed bin Suroor’s three-year-old did win very impressively over the mile here in the Group 3 UAE 2000 Guineas running away from his field and is the obvious favourite. Mike de Kock expects a lot more from Fawree now he is getting over his aversion to the stalls while Japanese raider Epicharis (6/1) is unbeaten after three races and tactically adaptable and seems sure to run a huge race at a far better price.
2.00pm Al Quoz Sprint.
One of the more intriguing races on the card and one where local runner Ertijaal will look to follow up last year’s success though this year they have added an extra furlong. He is no value and has a strong field to compete with and Limato will go well for Henry Candy though the lack of a run since last November has to be seen as of concern and they may both be worth opposing with an each way bet on Amazing Kids (10/1). Hong Kong sprinters are as good as anywhere, and trainer John Size rarely ventures abroad unless he feels they have a really solid chance. His form with the best sprinters in Asia stands out and he ought to prove hard to keep out of the frame.
2.35pm Golden Shaheen
Six furlongs on the dirt this time and although there are two European runners in the Charlie Appleby trained Comicas and Mick Halford’s Wild Dude it’s not a race to get overly excited about. Truth is you don’t need to tip in every race and this looks one to avoid though apparently jockey Chris Hayes is quite sweet on the each way chances of Morawij at a double figure price.
3.30pm Dubai Turf
Back on the grass and the Europeans dominate this contest both in numbers and in the betting. Zarak heads the market for Alain De Royer-Dupre after winning here in his warm up race but Godolphin seem very sweet on the chance of Ribchester (3/1) who some see as their best chance at the meeting. Trained by Richard Fahey who has been here a few days now, his form when second to Minding at Ascot in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes is as good or better than anything else on show with his five month lay off the main concern.
4.05pm Dubai Sheema Classic
Postponed (2/1) won this last year and is favourite to do so again and rightly so. He did surprise a few when failing to win his warm up race but trainer Roger Varian does not seem unduly worried which suggests he had deliberately left a little to work on. He is clearly the best horse in the race and won this last year, though the likes of Highland Reel and Jack Hobbs seem sure to make a race of it in one of the best races of the night.
4.45pm Dubai World Cup
And so to the race of the night, the highlight of the card but sadly one that lacks a betting angle. Arrogate will become one of the highest earning horses in the history of the sport if he adds the close to £5,000,000 first prize to his other victories here as expected. He is the best horse in the race and officially the joint best in the World at present, and with a clear run on a surface that was installed to attract the best American horses, everything seems in his favour. Trainer Bob Baffert was unsurprisingly confident when spoken to on Thursday morning and he ought to win this with ease, and may still have more to offer as he matures and strengthens. Obviously others have to hit the places with Keen Ice a lively outsider and Gold Dream a possibility but the truth is this is a race to watch and savour with or without any betting interest.
Author – Sean Trivass
Picture Credit – Dubai Racing Club and Andrew Watkins