There is always some very attractive prize-money up for grabs in the Middle East and another quality card at Meydan awaits up on Thursday afternoon. Many of the household names from the UK are visible, jockeys’ like Jamie Spencer, William Buick, Jim Crowley and more. Let’s move on to the action and we have four races previewed along with a tasty £4,114 Lucky 15 here.
4.15pm Meydan Sobha Handicap
The South Korean raider Triple Nine is the deserved favourite in this weak handicap by Meydan standards. He is one of the best performers in his native land and won the President’s Cup in November by 5 lengths and that sort of form may well be good enough to suffice. However, there could be a joker in the pack in the form of FOG OF WAR (5/1) who is having his first run for Godolphin since leaving Ger Lyons in September 2015. He is switched to the dirt after a nice lay-off and Christophe Soumillion (18% strike-rate here the last five seasons) is an eye-catching jockey booking. Godolphin operate at a 21% strike-rate at Meydan over the last five seasons. He was beat a short head in a 21 runner Curragh handicap when last seen and is in good hands now whilst he also has a great plum draw in Stall 1.
4.50pm Meydan Al Fahidi Fort (Group 2)
The feature race of the day is upon us. Read our full Preview for the race here!
5.25pm Meydan District One Handicap
Hamdan Al Maktoum has a three pronged attack in this contest so it can be a bit of a guessing game as far as his horses’ are concerned but Jim Crowley is his main man in the saddle now so our vote goes to THE TAJ (8/1). It has to be a positive that he chose to ride this horse over Mashaaref and Shaishee. He has had his training problems but when on song he is very talented and would bolt up here if at his mercurial best. Trained by Doug Watson here in the UAE, the Street Cry gelding bolted up over C&D off a mark of 94 two years ago so doesn’t look too harshly treated off 100 if he can recapture that form. He is an ex Richard Hannon Ascot handicap winner and hopefully Doug has him in good shape for this.
6.00pm Meydan District One Mansions Handicap
Charlie Appleby, David Simcock, Marco Botti and Mick Halford all have runners in this handicap but it’s another Godolphin inmate in for them of HUGE FUTURE (5/1) who ticks all the boxes for this contest. The Saeed Bin Suroor trained lightly raced four year old Shamardal colt won a maiden at Newcastle last June before going on to follow up in a Class 4 Newbury handicap. He reached a flat mark of 99 when 5th in a decent handicap at Doncaster over a mile and a half when last seen in October and with just five runs under his belt, he may well be able to defy a mark of 99 today. Godolphin operate at a 21% strike-rate at Meydan and a huge run is on the cards from a good inside berth in Stall 4.