Below is our analysis of the 2012 Dubai World Cup programme, the 17th edition of the world’s richest day of racing. It doesn’t get much better than this. Need a form guide/past performances, check the links below.
CLICK HERE for the Emirates Racing Association Form Guide
CLICK HERE for the US-style past performances, courtesy of AmWest Entertainment
RACE 1 – $250,000 Dubai Kahayla Classic for purebred Arabians (G1), sponsored by EMAAR
2,000 metres – Tapeta
This is a fabulous renewal of the Kahayla Classic, which gets only added interest with #13 TM FRED TEXAS, the top Arabian in America last year. There is enough reason to think that #6 SERAPHIN DU PAON could repeat in this event, especially as the early pace is likely to be strong, coming from no less than four horses. That gallop didn’t exist in the prep race for this event, but several of the Qatari shippers inspire the belief that the come-from-behinders will have something to run at here. As such, we think that gives the defending a champion a stellar time to repeat, and makes him the pick.
#1 NIESHAN has reeled off three consecutive top efforts, and gets the rail draw for his connections. He clearly likes the surface and has the ability to land the big one after avoiding top quality company earlier this year. #10 SAHIB DU CLOS went missing last time, but it’s possible for he swings back into form as the Arabians are known to do. Great renewal, but sticking close to home.
1st – #6 SERAPHIN DU PAON, 2nd – #1 NIESHAN, 3rd – #10 SAHIB DU CLOS
RACE 2 – $1,000,000 Godolphin Mile (G2), sponsored by Etisalat
1,600 metres – Tapeta
There is nothing wrong with two of Ali Al Raihe’s entrants, #7 DERBAAS and #14 HAATHEQ, both of whom have been facing tougher company, and are quite competent over the trip and course. But interestingly, the barn prefers #5 FIRST CITY, suggesting she is going incredibly well at the moment, and is their likeliest chance in the race.
Pace should come from various sources, including #11 DO IT ALL, plus some pressing in the form of #7 DERBAAS. #8 WESTERN ARISTOCRAT has shown speed in the past, and been pointed here for a long time, but just doesn’t fit the bill of the normal shippers in the past who have managed success in this event. The scratch of #2 BARBECUE EDDIE could slow some of the early gallop.
If #4 AFRICAN STORY runs to his Firebreak (G3) performance in this race, he’s the horse to beat. It’s that simple. African Story wins this race if he runs back to that. He had an easier go of it in the Burj Nahaar (G3) and drew away in fine order. His record on all-weather just makes you think that he has been long-aimed to get over this surface more than any other, and as a result, he is our pick, and the banker of the day.
1st – #4 AFRICAN STORY, 2nd – #5 FIRST CITY, 3rd – #8 WESTERN ARISTOCRAT
RACE 3 – $1,000,000 Dubai Gold Cup (G3), sponsored by Al Tayer Motors
3,200 metres – Turf
#8 MIKHAIL GLINKA is the only pace, and #11 FOX HUNT might offer value as Frankie Dettori ends up on #10 OPINION POLL. Understanding that, and not swayed by Dettori’s decision, this race just seems better for Opinion Poll over Fox Hunt. Not only has Fox Hunt won the two distance races of the Carnival, he did them both easily, but Opinion Poll needed that last run, and using history as a guide, is likely better with the prep. So many in this field are going to be held up, Fox Hunt does have a tactical advantage, especially over Opinion Poll. All that being said, he just seems to class up better when factoring the back form, including the performances against Fame And Glory that dot his past form.
#2 BARBICAN has really flown under the radar, and will be the first local starter for trainer Alan Bailey. This guy is likely sit just off the pace and could be in a solid tactical position to stay on through the final 400 metres.
1st – #10 OPINION POLL, 2nd – #11 FOX HUNT, 3rd – #2 BARBICAN
RACE 4 – $2,000,000 UAE Derby (G2), sponsored by The Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group
1,900 metres – Tapeta
If a shipper was going to win this race for the first time, it would be this year. Master of Hounds almost did it last year, just getting the worst of the head-bob with Khawlah. While we have acknowledged that being close to the pace is probably better, #1 LUCKY CHAPPY has to get some strong consideration from us. He’s been crying out for more distance and a longer stretch almost his entire career, and he gets it in this spot. The pace will likely be slower than what he’s faced in the US, so that could keep him closer, which would be to his benefit. Alan Garcia, who rode Regal Ransom to victory in this race in 2009, gets the call.
The South American shipper, #4 BALADA SALE certainly merits initial consideration. The history of the shippers here has not been strong. He is likely to be with the pace, and liven things up, which we think will only help our top pick. Similarly, both Aidan O’Brien runners, #7 DADDY LONG LEGS and #13 WROTE get looks as well, almost exclusively considering how well the stable went here last year. Wrote’s win on the turf, in hindsight, isn’t near as strong as it initially appeared, and is almost assured of ground loss, something that he didn’t endure when winning at Churchill Downs.
Locally-based #6 MICKDAAM has been the beneficiary of two golden trips in his last two starts and it has been argued he’s needed more ground all along. That being said, #16 SURFER, a maiden, almost beat him last time but covered 12-metres of added ground, according to the Trakus data. The overall local contingent of 3YOs have done nothing but take turns this season, with none of them putting back-to-back top efforts together, so Mickdaam would be the first, in the toughest race of his career – that seems a tall task.
#3 MARITIMER’s top efforts have come in restricted company in Canada, but the barn has been craving a run, and he’ll get it in this spot.
The horse we are going for is #11 ENTIFAADHA. He was lame just a week before his last race, and still hung in well and just missed in a close photo. The distance does offer some concern, but he will race with prominence, something this field might be lacking. And at the end of the day, it is, as of now, scheduled to be the last ride of Richard Hills’s career. That might be nothing more than sentimentalities, but the total nature of the group leads us to think outside the box. We are looking for a horse that is progressive – and really, Entifaadha fits the bill.
Lucky Chappy has been the most-consistent of this group across two seasons, but has been a bit skiddish in the morning. He settled on Thursday, but really could do just about anything, including win this race, and we wouldn’t be surprised.
1st – #11 ENTIFAADHA, 2nd – #6 MICKDAAM, 3rd – #1 LUCKY CHAPPY
RACE 5 – $1,000,000 Al Quoz Sprint (G1), sponsored by Emirates NBD
1,000 metres – Turf
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again – our analysis of these turf sprints has been brutal over the history of Meydan, despite the fact we liked JJ The Jet Plane last year. These horses just find a way to pick and choose the right conditions to win – and there is little doubt this is a well-matched bunch. But as long as we could go through every horse in the field, as happens in some later races, it just doesn’t seem a valuable use of our time or yours. Anything could happen.
We have never seen more confidence for a horse racing in Dubai, ever, on World Cup night, than the connections of #10 ORTENSIA. They claim, quite willingly, that they never get as ridiculously confident as they are as of now, suggesting their mare, a winner of 10 from 29 starts, has never been better. She was a Group 1 winner back home in Australia, and dominated a Randwick barrier trial three weeks back in a fast time while goaing around a turn. If Hay List were here, there isn’t much confidence. If Sepoy were in this race, the team would have less confidence. But as it stands, in this field, the confidence is just overwhelming. We lack any serious angle, and suggest you accept this information as such – a suggestion. Ortensia for us.
#15 SOLE POWER has shown a penchant for needing a prep race, something he got last year in this race, before going on to a solid win back home. This season, he ran incredibly well in the Meydan Sprint as a prep, and should only move forward off that.
#5 NOCTURNAL AFFAIR has been the most consistent turf sprinter in Dubai this year. No one has showed up with greater consistency, and it could go one of two ways – he shows up as he normally does, or he’s tired. It’s tough to tell what we’re going to get, but if he was going to show signs of letting up, wouldn’t that have shown over some period of his last two starts?
#8 AUGUST RUSH was third in the Tapeta sprint prep for the Dubai Golden Shaheen and Herman Brown told us he threw a shoe coming out of the gate. Given that, he moves up in our book and all things considered, he ran a really strong race coming off the long layoff.
1st – #10 ORTENSIA, 2nd – #15 SOLE POWER, 3rd – #5 NOCTURNAL AFFAIR
RACE 6 – $2,000,000 Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1), sponsored by Gulf News
1,200 metres – Tapeta
The presence of Euroears did nothing to hurt #1 ROCKET MAN last year, if anything setting him up well for the win, and the same seems likely in 2012 with #3 GIANT RYAN and #7 THE FACTOR. Both could potentially stay on for the win, but this is the same setup Rocket Man had in 2011. His last trackwork in Singapore was solid with an easy barrier trial win in the fastest time of the morning. This guy is the repeat threat on top.
#5 KRYPTON FACTOR has been awesome locally this season, and raced well into shape. He’s young, but well-raced, and the American pacesetters are likely to run past him early. It might take him out of his game a bit, but there is no reason to think he couldn’t sit back just a bit farther while tracking and try to follow Rocket Man. Still, the Singapore flash is better, but we wouldn’t be shocked if this guy won for the jovial Bahraini Fawzi Nass.
From the perspective of class, the best win of The Factor’s career came around two turns, going 8.5 furlongs in the Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park. He beat quality horses that day, but subsequent wins have been significantly less impressive. Some might suggest Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) winner Amazombie, third last time behind The Factor, is a top quality sprinter – but he was never going to win the San Carlos (G2) last time off the layoff. We’re not going to be ghastly shocked if The Factor wins, but we just don’t see him getting a setup that will allow him to chill on the lead and kick away. It’s possible, just not probable. Rocket Man is a better horse, and think he might win by more than he did last season.
#9 SEPOY gets the run for the home team, and Tapeta stands as the only question. There is no arguing that his Aussie grass form is tops, and his breeding suggests he won’t have an issue, but now just doesn’t seem the time to test. How is it Godolphin doesn’t have a starter in the Al Quoz Sprint, but two in this race, including #12 SOUL? Personally, we just don’t get it, as the former would go favoured in the Al Quoz, and the latter had a strong run over grass here.
#6 HITCHENS won the Al Shindagha Sprint (G3) locally over Krypton Factor, but was well behind him when second in the Mahab Al Shimaal (G3). Krypton Factor just seems faster and more likely to go on than TD Barron’s charge.
1st – #1 ROCKET MAN, 2nd – #5 KRYPTON FACTOR, 3rd – #7 THE FACTOR
RACE 7 – $5,000,000 Dubai Duty Free (G1), sponsored by Dubai Duty Free
1,800 metres – Turf
Interestingly, this race has traditionally gone the way of horses based in the UAE for the Carnival, winning the last four editions of the race. Where does the pace come from in this race? Last year, we had the likes of Beauty Flash and Strawberrydaiquiri knocks heads early, setting really fast early sectionals to get it going. The top four finishers in last year’s Duty Free were 15th, 4th, 13th, and 16th with 700 metres left to run. All things considered, it makes the performance of River Jetez all that more intriguing from last year, as she was the only horse to run forward last year and stay-on. How will the closers deal with it this year?
#8 CALIFORNIA MEMORY has shown an ability to go on with the early gallop but those have been fleeting moments, as has #5 MUSIR, who’s gone close in his two best starts this season, one of which was a course and distance win. The true preppers last time in the Jebel Hatta, #12 PRESVIS and #15 WIGMORE HALL both run from well off the pace, and it can increase the general difficulty of their attempts to get in the frame again. #9 XTENSION has run with some attention to the pace but so rarely seems able to manage this quality.
#10 MUTAHADEE has been a great Carnival revelation, but seems pace compromised here, and also in need of his absolute top effort to get the job done. Overall, that seems a tall task for a horse that has done little wrong. He had the fastest final 400-metre split in the Jebel Hatta, and that is encouraging considering how slow the pace was – this guy handled it best. Presvis, on the other hand, wasn’t asked to quicken until late in the stretch and even then, while recording the second-fastest final 400m split, seemed in true prep mode. He could rebound and run a big race, but the DDF double seems unlikely considering the pace.
We like #4 AMBITIOUS DRAGON. Watch a replay of Ambitious Dragon’s win in the Stewards’ Cup (G1), where they really ran fast throughout. He was closer to the pace in that 1,600-metre event, and it’s encouraging because the gallop was solid, suggesting if it is as slow as it looks on paper, Douglas Whyte could have him just behind whoever ends up leading, poised to pounce as they turn for home. The Honkers get the call here.
1st – #4 AMBITIOUS DRAGON, 2nd – #10 MUTAHADEE, 3rd – #5 MUSIR
RACE 8 – $5,000,000 Dubai Sheema Classic (G1), sponsored by Longines
2,410 metres – Turf
Clearly, the Dubai Gold Cup seems to have taken some of the lustre from this crew, going to post with only a field of ten. #8 CIRRUS DES AIGLES deserves the major shout. He’s a Cartier winner, landed the Qipco Champion Stakes (G1) in fine form, and now goes second-up after a good stretch against Zazou at Chantilly. He was 10 from 11 in the frame last year, with nine of those placings in the top two. At the end of the day, though, the knock on him is that it took him a while to get into the top action. He’s gotten better with age and should go relatively close, but will he be primed for his best effort when those from last season came late after everyone else had time to tire. The 2,400 also leads to concern as his best came over shorter.
The Ballydoyle duo of #9 ST. NICHOLAS ABBEY and #6 TREASURE BEACH are both likely to go well in here, with the latter much better when fresh, and it almost leads you to want to avoid St. Nicholas Abbey as a result. Treasure Beach has always run well fresh, and is likely to be close to a pace that shouldn’t be ridiculously fast. That puts him at an advantage.
#1 SONGCRAFT didn’t impress us before he got going in the Carnival, and we were on the wrong side of him in his two wins. But he earned our respect against the top company he faced last time, and covered 12 metres more than the front-running winner, according to Trakus.
#10 SHIMRAAN is a massive roughie from us. He moved forward when third off the shelf last year, albeit in company not comparable to this. A son of Rainbow Quest, he encountered trouble two back and was never asked to run, and then lost 18-metres relative to Mikhail Glinka in the Dubai City of Gold (G2). He won’t shock us if he runs big.
1st – #6 TREASURE BEACH, 2nd – #8 CIRRUS DES AIGLES, 3rd – #10 SHIMRAAN
RACE 9 – $10,000,000 Dubai World Cup (G1), sponsored by Emirates Airline
2,000 metres – Tapeta
The international markets for the 2012 Dubai World Cup have, almost exclusively, maintained #4 SO YOU THINK as a strong favourite compared to the rest of an evenly matched bunch. We think he has a massive chance, but before we ignore the 13 others, let’s look at this race from a pace perspective.
In 2010, Gloria De Campeao loafed on the lead and stayed-on to win. In 2011, Transcend did the loafing, Mirco Demuro sensed the ludicrous pace and sent his mount forward and the two went for home together, completed a Japanese quinella. 2012 WILL be different, at least in terms of the pace scenario. The best example of how the 2011 Dubai World Cup was run came in watching American turfer Gio Ponti closer to the pace than he’d been in recent memory, and his jockey, Ramon Dominguez, strangling his mount back towards a normal running style. Despite those efforts, he hung in valiantly and put in a second-consecutive strong, but non-placing performance in the world’s richest race.
#14 GAME ON DUDE really has no choice but to go forward, he knows no other way, and the patient hands of Chantal Sutherland just find a way to mete out the pace, even with the wide draw. You might get by him initially, but he fights back. He will race without bleeder medication, and that has to be a consideration, especially for a front-runner. In the US, his early pace would have him a length in front, and if he goes that same speed in Dubai, he could be several lengths clear, maybe even more. So You Think was very close in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) and saved plenty of ground in that event, but to us, doesn’t go much better than Cape Blanco did in this race a year ago. #5 SMART FALCON and #10 TRANSCEND are projected to be close as well, but there is almost no logical scenario that has Transcend as a lone pacesetter. #11 CAPPONI almost has to race with prominence as well. The front-runners will be plentiful, including all those mentioned above. We have to look elsewhere.
Understanding this outlook, one has to think that a horse rating off the pace will have a better chance this year than in the last editions of the race at Meydan. #12 PRINCE BISHOP merits legitimate consideration from us. He encountered plenty of trouble last time out – slow at the start, rushed up by Frankie Dettori, a bit wide on the second turn, and he still stayed for third. The Trakus data from the Maktoum Challenge – R3 (G1) recorded Prince Bishop running the fastest 100-metre segment of the race (tied with four others at different splits in the race) in the space between the first 100 and 200 metres of the race. That’s a huge early exertion to get in the frame. He was gelded towards the end of last season, and has shown a different ability this year. He’s a better horse, and deserves a massive chance.
What are we going to get from #3 ZAZOU? He’s put in some quality runs over time, and had the right to best Cirrus Des Aigles at Chantilly last time. His Hong Kong race was a goodie, especially having lost some ground. But he needs to go close, and too many others will as well. #8 MONTEROSSO is a lively longshot to grab a slice of the action, having hung in valiantly off the long break last time, and continuing to show an affinity for the Tapeta. But is another that might get pace compromised. #11 CAPPONI needs the race of his life – which would ironically be the second time in a row he needed that to win.
All reports and observations of #7 ROYAL DELTA have been incredibly positive. She may have never faced the boys, but she does her best running second off the layoff. Look at the patterns in her form – just remarkable consistency. There was no way she was ready for a prime effort last time, so it’s easy to draw a line right through it. This is Bill Mott’s decision to come here and face the boys, and he has a strapping filly with which to do it. She just might be the one to get the trip under Jose Lezcano to pick up the pieces. Don’t get us wrong – there is PLENTY to go against her – the boys, a big field, etc. 10 furlongs hits this filly across the face, and she grinds it out, which we think is exactly what she is going to do in this spot.
Could the Japanese do it again? If so, as we implied above, we don’t think it will be with Smart Falcon or Transcend, but rather, with #2 EISHIN FLASH. Initially, we were reluctant to embrace his chances, but reviews of the replays from the Arima Kinen and Tenno Sho Autumn got us thinking. If he runs his race, he’ll gallop behind the early speed and run-on. If Orfevre was here, he’d be a massive choice. But the way he was ridden in the Arima Kinen is encouraging given the likely setup he’ll get here. If he’s given the opportunity to relax off the pace, the post will help him save ground and relax off the speed, and potentially come running late.
1st – #7 ROYAL DELTA, 2nd – #2 EISHIN FLASH, 3rd – # 12 PRINCE BISHOP
2011-2012 UAE season-to-date: 314 selections – 71 first, 55 second, 32 third (22% win, 49% top three)