The action is really hotting up from Meydan as we move a week closer to Dubai World Cup Day. This Thursday sees two Group contests and four highly competitive handicaps. Here’s four runners who caught the eye.
The racing is no less competitive over the jumps from the UK and Ireland. The Dublin Racing Festival plays host to Ireland’s best jumpers and there’s a highly competitive Saturday from Sandown, Musselburgh and Wincanton live on ITV. Be sure to check out all our tips and analysis this weekend, as well as our Free Bets.
3.05 Al Rashidiya (Group 2) 1m1f
BARNEY ROY was one of the best three-year-olds of the 2017 season, winning the St. James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot as well as placing in the Guineas, Eclipse and Juddmonte. His stud career didn’t go to plan, but he made amends for that disappointment when winning a Listed race at Longchamp on his second start for Charlie Appleby.
The gelding was sent off the 5/1 favourite for the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot in June. He failed to give his true running there unfortunately, getting worked up in the preliminaries before hitting a flat spot in the race. Nevertheless, he was far from disgraced in eighth, comfortably ahead of the re-opposing Dream Castle.
This contest gives him a cracking opportunity to return to winning ways. The domestic challenge holds no fears for him and his three owners’ mates have something to prove today, including Loxley who ran a shocker over ten furlongs here two weeks ago.
Selection: BARNEY ROY @ 8/11
3.40 Meydan Cup (Listed Handicap) 1m6f
The six-time Grade One placed DEE EX BEE takes a big step down in grade on his first start for the bin Ghadayer yard today. Formerly trained by Mark Johnston for whom he placed in the 2018 Derby and finished second to Stradivarius three times last year, he races in a handicap for the first time in his career.
Unsurprisingly, he has to concede weight to his six rivals today, but given the level of form he showed in Europe, that shouldn’t be much of a problem. The three Godolphin contenders arrive here in poor form and whilst Universal Order has won his last two, he will need a clear career best to defy a five pound rise.
Mekong was within two lengths of Dee Ex Bee at Sandown in May, however he lacked consistency in four subsequent starts. Held in tenth in the Ebor from this mark and a distant fourth in a Grade Two when last seen, a switch to Jamie Osborne needs to have a significant effect.
Selection: DEE EX BEE @ 5/4
4.50 Mina Rashid (Handicap) 1m
The likeable Firmament ran a big race on his first start in Meydan this winter three weeks ago. The eight-year-old ran on strongly to finish second to a Godolphin trained rival. He’s more than entitled to go close once more, but his strike rate of just five from fifty-eight is of obvious concern.
It’s one in the Godolphin blue who makes most appeal. The Saeed bin Suroor trained LAND OF LEGENDS finished within a length of the now 118 rated King Of Comedy on debut. He won three of his next four starts before finishing a close fifth at the Listed level in Newmarket. That came over an inadequate six furlongs, with today seeing him return to a mile. Still on a workable mark given his unexposed profile, he has strong claims.
Salute The Soldier enjoyed a productive season for Clive Cox in 2019, placing four times and scoring twice in eight starts. He finished a close third in Listed company when last seen in September behind a rival rated 112. That level of form would give him strong claims today, although it’s of concern that his new Bahrain based stable are struggling for form.
Selection: LAND OF LEGENDS @ 11/2
6.00 Jebel Ali Port (Handicap) 1m2f
A really competitive ten furlong handicap which sees the Mick Channon trained Certain Lad bid for a hat-trick. The four-year-old signed off last term with victory at Ayr. Sent off at odds of 33/1 over track and trip in January, he broke the course record when beating Mark Halford’s SIMSIR. He won’t go down without a fight, particularly with Ben Curtis onboard, but there’s reason to believe the Irish raider can reverse the form.
The Aga Khan’s four-year-old travelled like the winner there on just his fourth career start. He unfortunately had to wait for room early in the straight, allowing the winner to get first run. There were signs of inexperience there, something that is to be expected given his lightly raced profile. Meeting the winner on two pound better terms and open to more improvement than him, he can exact his revenge.
Down at the foot of the weights is Global Heat. He ranks the main danger to the selection having scored cosily on handicap debut back in May, ahead of a subsequent Listed winner in third. Former stablemate Rastrelli ran a big race on stable debut after a 609 day lay off, finishing third over a mile. A winner over ten furlongs back in April 2018, he’s another of interest in a wide open contest to end the card.
Selection: SIMSIR @ 11/4