Below is our analysis for the fifth night of the 2013 Dubai World Cup Carnival. Another testing night with big fields and many chances. Good luck to all
Race 1 – $55,000 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 for purebred Arabians (G1) – 2,200 metres – All-weather
Brutally well-balanced purebred Arabian contest. What to do with the four-horse Majed Al Jahouri trained contingent, all coming in from Europe? There’s no Areem or Naseem in here, so that makes it a bit easier. There also seems to be some legitimate pace in the mix. #2 ALBAR LOTOIS was second in this race a year ago and just missed from longshot Sahib Du Clos, who does not re-oppose. He’ll be our pick amongst a contentious, if not under-rated field.
1st – #2 ALBAR LOTOIS, 2nd – #6 VERSAC PY, 3rd – #4 GHALIB
Race 2 – $110,000 GN Focus Handicap (Rated 95-105) – 2,000 metres – All-weather
This race leaves plenty to be desired in terms of quality as this field is a combined 1-for-37 in the UAE. Much has been made about the lack of pace in some of these races. We’ve given up trying to handicap these races as if the jockeys look at the form in the race and determine whether or not there is or isn’t speed, and adjust accordingly. #11 UNIVERSAL has gone forward in the past, making all over a similar trip on the grass, #8 ARTHUR’S TALE has done that as well. Ahmad Ajtebi has lacked for Godolphin mounts before this week, and he gets a chance on a horse with some tactical speed. In his last run, Mickael Barzalona kept looking around hoping someone would take up the running and chose not to do so himself, allowing Bay Willow a frustrating easy lead to run on as he pleased. #4 THEO DANON has gone from the front as well at points in the past.
We backed #7 OTTOMAN EMPIRE two weeks ago and come back to him yet again. We thought he might be able to save some ground in that race, but it was a farce as he was planted deep the entire trip. He was beaten four lengths by Bay Willow and drawn in gate 10 out of 10. Thursday, this guy goes from the rail and should (A) be kept a bit closer to the early gallop as a result of that draw, and (B) not lose near as much ground as he has in two previous starts. Knowing the frustration Bay Willow caused in previous weeks, there just has to be some more keen early tempo to bring someone along, and we’ll go back to Ottoman Empire. He covered the equivalent of 18 metres more than Bay Willow, which equates to almost seven lengths of extra ground.
#9 LAYALI AL ANDALUS would never have been our idea of a favourite for a Carnival win, but that’s the position he finds himself in having enough to gallop into the slow pace last time, and just miss. Perhaps what is most amusing is that Richard Mullen, who expertly gave many of these the slip last time, gets the ride.
1st – #7 OTTOMAN EMPIRE, 2nd – #9 LAYALI AL ANDALUS, 3rd – #8 ARTHUR’S TALE
Race 3 – $100,000 Meydan Classic – 1,400 metres – Turf
#8 I’M BACK ran a cracking race when tracking Soft Falling Rain in the Guineas Trial, and from the full field of 16 here, eight also-rans from that race return, potentially indicative of how much people are inclined to avoid a 2,000 Guineas juggernaut again. I’m Back tracked Soft Falling Rain throughout and still stayed-on well to run second. If he wins this race, it’s not going to be on the lead, at least we don’t think so. Back on grass, and with a TON of early speed in here, we are expecting this son of Exceed And Excel to be behind the main pace.
That pace is likely to come from several sources, most notably #7 HOTOTO, but could also include the likes of #4 BRAVO YOUMZAIN, #10 MISTER BIG SHUFFLE, #11 OUZINKIE, #12 RELATED (who missed the break last time), and #13 STASIO. In other words, it looks like a really solid pace. #1 EL ESTRUENDOSO has always been likely to need more ground than what he gets here again, but did not disgrace himself behind stablemate Soft Falling Rain, and ran on enough to at least show his interest. He’ll settle off the pace and should get enough to run into for a potential score.
1st – #1 EL ESTRUENDOSO, 2nd – #8 I’M BACK, 3rd – #6 FILFIL
Race 4 – $250,000 UAE 1,000 Guineas (Listed) – 1,600 metres – All-weather
The Guineas Trial was essentially a match-race between #10 MUSIC CHART and #6 SHURUQ, with the former winning, and the latter somehow going off as the favorite on the North American tote. It was really quite surprising if you based your analysis on the form franking that went with Music Chart, but still, there was nothing overly telling about any filly in the race. It is worth noting that the pace in the trial was quite swift, and may have brought these fillies into the race. But still, out of all the all-weather races so far this campaign, Music Chart is the only winner to have closed from beyond midfield. That might count for something.
#2 EMOTIF did amazing things on debut. As reported in the preseason Dubai Racing Comprehensive, this daughter of Giant’s Causeway made her first and only start against nine, who had combined for 32 starts with eight wins and 12 placings. The daughter of Giant’s Causeway demolished the well-experienced bunch by four lengths, and was put away for the prizes on offer at this year’s Carnival. The field she handled with no issue is 4-for-39 since, and the second placer came back to win right back in a similar condition. As for the effort, deKock told me this filly wasn’t 100% for the race, and hadn’t really had any serious work, still winning easily.
Unfortunately, she did not travel that well through quarantine and suffered heat stroke on arrival. While she was pronounced as unlikely to make the trial, she is back here in the main event. We didn’t like the trial field, and many have returned. This is a new shooter worth watching. Surely the deKock camp has her back on the right track.
#8 LOVELY PASS gets plenty of attention from the home team with two grass wins, one at Lingfield and another at Ascot. In that effort, she defeated Music Chart by 3 ¾ lengths.
It’s very likely that Emotif needs this race, but we were left relatively unimpressed with the win from Music Chart and second from Shuruq, a race significantly slower than the 2,000 Guineas Trial. Lovely Pass has to move in front of them considering the form-franking too.
1st – #2 EMOTIF, 2nd – #8 LOVELY PASS, 3rd – #10 MUSIC CHART
Race 5 – $150,000 Classifieds Handicap (Rated 95+) – 2,810 metres – Turf
Both #9 AHZEEMAH and #5 STAR EMPIRE caught our attention well in their first starts of this year’s Carnival, covering 10 and 12 metres more than winner Anatolian, according to the Trakus statistics. Overall, it had to be considered nothing short of a stellar effort for Star Empire, coming first off a February 2011 layoff. That 23-month break was a long one, and he’s been competitive over these longer trips. With some slight improvement, this guy is in the mix again. Ahzeemah may have galloped out slightly better than the first four home from that race, which included #3 IN THE SPOTLIGHT. This race wasn’t initially on the schedule for the Indian mare, but she should come on for that first run up at Meydan against better competition.
#2 CERTERACH really outran his odds last time and was doing his best running late. With the three mentioned above, it was a really bunched finish, but the thing that does stick out is how substantive the early gallop really was in that race. This may have brought more horses into the running than we’d have expected. The early leader, Sham Sheer, ended up last, while In The Spotlight, who tracked the pace throughout, stayed on for a valiant second when that mare had every reason to quit. We think she may have hit the front too soon, as well. It seems entirely logical that the second, third, and fourth – all who needed that last race, come back and run bang-up races yet again. Given how well In The Spotlight stayed on last time, we’ll give her a slight edge.
1st – #3 IN THE SPOTLIGHT, 2nd – #9 AHZEEMAH, 3rd – #5 STAR EMPIRE
Race 6 – $250,000 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 (G2) – 1,900 metres – All-weather
We thought #8 MENDIP was retired. Guess not. He won this race last year against a much weaker field, and a repeat seems unlikely.
#10 JAMR is likely to lose some ground from this draw, but he flew home when behind another front-running leader in Elderly Paradise last time, who went much slower that this race appears. According to the Trakus statistics, Jamr covered the final 400 metres in 22.95 seconds, and in a truly-run race, he’d have been an easy winner. Now going third off the layoff, he is a viable upset threat to several of the new Godolphin runners making Carnival debuts.
#4 SAINT BAUDOLINO was an easy winner last time against a horse who seemed a likely overlay next time out in Aesop’s Fables, who came back to run a credible fourth last week in the Al Rashidiya (G2). He’s not without all-weather experience, but has to be considered a threat on his consistent form. The break is a concern for freshness and goal-spotting later in the season.
#11 SURFER gets the class test as well after two solid wins to start the season in the UAE. He’s regularly been saddled with wide trips and is probably one of the best in the barn for Satish Seemar. He gets a class test, for certain, but needs to be included.
#6 HUNTER’S LIGHT intrigues off his all-weather win in Turkey against Zazou. In that race, the Anatolian Trophy (G2), he settled rear of mid-division and didn’t even move until he they straightened and he galloped away from them in short-order. He hasn’t been off all that much, but it’s fairly clear he’s been kept on the second-tier track by Godolphin. Also rans in that race from Turkey included Prince Alzain and Belgian Bill – it wasn’t a series of world-beaters. (Edit: We mentioned that Anatolian Trophy fourth Feuerblitz had not done much in his local debut in Dubai, but must have confused him with another German horse. We apologise for the oversight.)
#12 MUSHREQ does deserve some consideration off his impressive win here last week, which had been preceded by a brutal trip. The all-weather provides some question marks, as does the improved company on that surface. He’s fresher than most.
Last year’s 3-year-old crop in the US seemed relatively weak with few exceptions, and #3 ALPHA would qualify as a horse who did his best running in spots where the rest of the field really wasn’t all that great. He’ll likely be an underlay here and we are avoiding him. #1 PRINCE BISHOP was a winner first up last season, but he had been active in the UK and now comes back off an 11-month break as opposed to a two-month travel spell last year. He’s a tougher read. We’re also going to wait on #2 AWAIT THE DAWN, who was a pace presence in the Dubai Duty Free (G1) last year and faded right out. Mike de Kock thinks he is a better horse now and in the right direction, but we just can’t back him first up in this spot.
In the end, Jamr just seems the horse in a race likely to have a truer pace.
1st – #10 JAMR, 2nd – #4 SAINT BAUDOLINO, 3rd – #11 SURFER
Race 7 – $120,000 Freehold Handicap (Rated 100-110) – 1,600 metres – All-weather
Of all the races that have lacked pace at this Carnival, this one does not, in any way. #1 RUTLAND BOY, #2 PRODUCER, #10 YAA WAYL, #12 FAMOUS WARRIOR, and #13 FREEZEMASTER all show a penchant for racing with prominence, with Famous Warrior an absolute need-the-lead type. You have to think some of the closers can get drawn into this race, including #9 ARIETE ARROLLADOR, who did seem to lack some room in last week’s effort, his dullest in the UAE.
The jockey confusion is significant here with Ajtebi getting on #6 MARINER’S CROSS, who was well-fancied on opening night and ran dull, with Barzalona getting moved to #5 KINGLET, drawn wide.
#3 DON’T CALL ME, who we tipped last time out, tracked eventual winner Mandaean throughout the running and followed his same path but had too much of a gap to make up in the end, and they didn’t go blazing up front as they did in his previous start. He continues to show in good form and can definitely be drawn into the race with a strong early gallop.
#7 ROYAL RIDGE had to get a leg-stretcher at Jebel Ali which was fine to his liking, having been over a trip much too short for him before that at Meydan on the grass. Third up, his improvement is expected first time on the Tapeta.
We’re going against Godolphin in this race, straight across the board, relatively unusual for the Carnival, but it seems a legitimate spot to make such a stand.
1st – #3 DON’T CALL ME, 2nd – #7 ROYAL RIDGE, 3rd – #9 ARIETE ARROLLADOR
UAE ’12-13 season-to-date: 197 top selections – 49 first, 30 second, 29 third
25% winners, 55% top picks in first three