The big day is finally here. It’s the 2014 Dubai World Cup, the world’s richest race meeting. We’ve been following the racing from the UAE since the 2006-2007 season, making this our eighth Dubai World Cup. If you have never made one, put it on the list. In the interim, here are our thoughts and selections for the card. Best to all, and may they all come home in good order. Have a great, safe Dubai World Cup.
CLICK HERE for free US-style past performances (PDF file), courtesy of AmWest Entertainment
Race 1 – $250,000 Dubai Kahayla Classic for purebred Arabians (G1) – 2,000 metres – Tapeta
Can you really ignore #8 MUSHRAE’s form? A dominant win on all-weather carrying 63.5 kilograms, first-up this season, and now getting Christophe Soumillon back in the saddle? It’s a recipe for success in a race where there are a variety of chances. #7 VERSAC PY is so deserving of a win, but always a bridesmaid. He’s game, but will it be enough?
Both #15 RABBAH DE CARRERE and #16 DJANIKA DES FORGES have been done off by the draw, but make sense wheeling back off good performances on grass at Abu Dhabi.
1st – #8 MUSHRAE, 2nd – #15 RABBAH DE CARRERE, 3rd – #7 VERSAC PY, 4th – #16 DJANIKA DES FORGES
Race 2 – $1,000,000 Godolphin Mile (G2) – 1,600 metres – Tapeta
Two very different South African chances here – #5 SOFT FALLING RAIN coming back second-up, is the defending champion in this race. Meanwhile, #15 VARIETY CLUB was a dominant winner in the Firebreak Stakes, becoming the first horse all Carnival (regardless of surface) to make all the running and actually win. He was beaten by #10 SHURUQ when softened on the lead by the always game #12 CAPITAL ATTRACTION and Empire Storm.
Perhaps a slight bounce after the monumental Firebreak for Variety Club? You have to think he is very capable of moving forward and back to his best, but somewhat compromised by the draw. He is surely not going to be alone on the lead as Capital Attraction goes on with it, while main threat Soft Falling Rain has drawn incredibly well in gate five. Those factors make it very difficult to ignore Soft Falling Rain over Variety Club as the former is very likely to improve and have the better trip.
#16 LIMARIO ran a sneaky-good race in the Maktoum Challenge – Round 3 and has form that measures up. Given we know he gets over the surface in good order (practically a must at this meeting), ignorance is impossible at massive odds. Similarly, #6 ELLEVAL is well within the chances of a placing.
1st – #5 SOFT FALLING RAIN, 2nd – #15 VARIETY CLUB, 3rd – #10 SHURUQ, 4th – #16 LIMARIO
Race 3 – $1,000,000 Dubai Gold Cup (G3) – 3,200 metres – Turf
#7 CAVALRYMAN was so impressive taking the Nad Al Sheba Trophy, and bolted home to take this race last year. If he brings even a semblance of those two performances back to this, it’s going to be very tough to hold him back. He’ll almost have to have a brutal ride and trip to see this race go in any other direction.
#2 STAR EMPIRE has done plenty of running behind horses in Dubai, but rarely gets over the top, with two local wins from eleven starts. Still, he does have nine overall placings from those starts. He was switched to the standside rail in attempt to find the quickest ground and was still well seen off by Cavalryman (not the first time that has happened). He’s game, clearly sound, and could be one to turn the tables in the event the favourite does not bring his best.
It’s worth noting that at least #9 SEISMOS has a prep coming into this race in 2014, having started straight off the plane last year. He’s capable of a big one from time to time and stays on just when you think he is all-in. He’s not the craziest longshot in the field, along with the always in touch #14 CERTERACH, who gives it a good go every time in the UAE.
Another repeat winner forecasted on the big night.
1st – #7 CAVALRYMAN, 2nd – #2 STAR EMPIRE, 3rd – #9 SEISMOS, 4th – #14 CERTERACH
Race 4 – $1,000,000 UAE Derby (G2) – 1,900 metres – Tapeta
#4 LONG JOHN was incredibly impressive beating a relatively suspect local group in the UAE 2,000 Guineas, and has to overcome the now much discussed performance of Charlie Appleby trainees – winless in every local start after their UAE debut this season. In fact, all horses based at Godolphin’s Marmoom Stables are 1-for-64 in the UAE over the last two years (with two different trainers). Mental was a Golden Shaheen favourite for Al Zarooni last year, trying to overcome the second-up jinx the yard has faced.
#5 GIOVANNI BOLDINI has been our idea of the winner of this race for months. Nominated to the Kentucky Derby, bred to run well away from grass, a two-time all-weather winner, it all fits – not to mention the back-to-back UAE Derby winners trained by his conditioner, Aidan O’Brien. He ran a very credible race in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf when hitting the lead much too soon. On that occasion, Ryan Moore went too soon , the runaway, and very quick leader, Bobby’s Kitten. It set the race perfectly for Outstrip, who needed most of the stretch to wind-up and just get past Giovanni Boldini. He is clearly proficient on these types of surfaces and will be ridden to win it and likely progress to Kentucky. The winner.
A half-brother to champion turfer Zagora, #9 ASMAR improves with more racing, and beat off a similar group of suspect likely also-rans in his previous start. Good enough to go with the top two – doubtful. Third? Sure.
#3 COOPTADO is the wild card of the field off his third in the Carlos Pellegrini in Argentina. A late arrival of the season, Doug Watson is happy with his progress but recognized what he will have to face in here – a very different setup to what he faced in Argentina.
1st – #5 GIOVANNI BOLDINI, 2nd – #4 LONG JOHN, 3rd – #3 COOPTADO, 4th – #9 ASMAR
Race 5 – $1,000,000 Al Quoz Sprint (G1) – 1,000 metres – Turf
#12 SHEA SHEA won this race last season in his third-up start, but it was his second-up effort that was his biggest win, when beating #2 SOLE POWER. Given that the yard reported Shea Shea was about 70% for his first-run, you have to think he has a load if improvement in him, and frankly, we can say the same about Sole Power. When they have met, Shea Shea has bested Sole Power on four of five occasions.
Bar one performance at Royal Ascot, Shea Shea has always been better than Sole Power. You have to think that
#8 AMBER SKY is a fascinating entrant here, and if either of the top two get overturned, it could easily be this guy. He goes to the front in straight turf sprints and doesn’t look back. The competition is lesser in these 1,000-metre races in Hong Kong, not the tops, so to speak, but he knows nothing else. Andrew Hawkins of the South China Morning Post, interviewed for the Dubai World Cup Comprehensive, declared Amber Sky as the best chance for a Hong Kong win on the night, strong words considering they have a total of eight starters on the night.
What if Amber Sky could end up just setting the table in a more proficient manner for Shea Shea? Amber Sky could take them all the way, but the classier runners are Shea Shea and Sole Power.
1st – #12 SHEA SHEA, 2nd – #2 SOLE POWER, 3rd – #8 AMBER SKY, 4th – #9 DUX SCHOLAR
Race 6 – $2,000,000 Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) – 1,200 metres – Tapeta
All but one in this field has run at the Dubai World Cup Carnival with just one shipper flying in just for the race. The form is there for all to see, with very little guesswork. The presence of #6 ZEE BROS and #11 MY CATCH should certify a good pace, something that was really lacking in the Super Saturday prep, the Mahab Al Shimaal. It enabled defending champion #5 REYNALDOTHEWIZARD and winner #12 RICH TAPESTRY to get a break on the field and really were impossible to catch.
Our guess is that this will be a frenetic finish, with a much quicker pace than these horses faced in the Super Saturday prep. Ignoring the closers could be perilous, and that includes #2 BALMONT MAST, #10 JAMESIE, and #1 KRYPTON FACTOR, all of whom are proficient on the surface. Specifically, we like both Jamesie and Balmont Mast to get a tow into the race that should actually have an impact. Both of them flew home from the back in the Mahab Al Shimaal, but the slow pace (more than a half-second slower through the first 800 metres than the next slowest 800m split of the race’s five runnings at Meydan) ensured they wouldn’t get there.
Reynaldothewizard has been campaigned all year with the hopes of peaking in this race, and having a race similar to the 2012 Mahab Al Shimaal on World Cup night. He was third off the layoff and bolted in with a four length win. Arguably, he backpedaled when winning this race a year ago, going much less impressively in his fourth-start.
#8 COMPLICATE ran respectably last time when we fancied him and is deserving of another chance to get in the mix. #9 RUSSIAN SOUL has done little wrong locally.
#4 STERLING CITY is the lone visitor here only for this, and seems not without chance of replicating his best from Hong Kong.
Another repeat winner with some longshots underneath. This is a complex race and the odds aren’t likely to really suggest where the best chances are. We could see almost everyone in this race winning under different circumstances.
1st – #5 REYNALDOTHEWIZARD, 2nd – #10 JAMESIE, 3rd – #2 BALMONT MAST, 4th – #8 COMPLICATE
Race 7 – $5,000,000 Dubai Duty Free (G1) – 1,800 metres – Turf
#6 TOKEI HALO will go forward, and #3 ANAEROBIO will keep him company – both absolutely must go on with the pace. It should certify a good gallop, and we don’t believe either can see out the trip. As such, it ensures a truly-run affair.
The form tells most of the story on #11 VERCINGETORIX – he just wins, and that’s a wildly dangerous trait to ignore. When comparing his form to #4 THE FUGUE, take note that (A) she hasn’t run that well off the bench and (B) she can’t possibly be as fit for this as Vercingetorix. It’s literally near impossible to think that if they brought her back for this season, and are not shipping her off to the breeding shed, that she has a full season in front of her. That being the case, why would The Fugue be at her best here?
We just cannot suggest backing The Fugue as the favourite in this race. What about #10 DANK? A champion in America, she was medicated with Lasix for those efforts and gets open company. Another runner who wouldn’t be surprising, but the fitness level is a massive question.
#2 JUST A WAY had an absolutely perfect trip last time in his prep race – sat on the rail the entire way, got an opening in the stretch, went straight through and it was all over. But more impressive was his win last autumn when trouncing Gentildonna in the Tenno Sho Autumn.
#7 TRADE STORM was running into a slow pace last time in the Jebel Hatta, covered more ground than his margin of defeat, and should be even more fit for this next encounter. Still, is it enough for him to win? That’s a legitimate question. Fourth in this race a year ago when well-fancied and widely-drawn, he ran credibly enough there and holds claims as a legitimate chance to grab a slice of the pie. Overall, we think any of the first four below offer value on the market, and going from a place play, side with Trade Storm.
1st – #7 TRADE STORM, 2nd – #2 JUST A WAY, 3rd – #11 VERCINGETORIX, 4th – #8 TASADAY
Race 8 – $5,000,000 Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) – 2,410 metres – Turf
What a well-balanced group we have assembled here. Keep this in mind – the race lacks a very defined pacesetter. Does #9 FESTIVE CHEER, making only his fourth lifetime start, and with notorious team-tactics rider Seamus Heffernan on board, go forward and try to make the running? It sure looks that way on paper.
Yasunari Iwata may be a great jockey in Japan, but the bouncing along and Yakisoba-cooking-style of race-riding simply flies against the laws of physics. That’s the ride he gave #12 GENTILDONNA in the Dubai Sheema Classic last season. There may have been times it worked in Japan, but it didn’t work here, as the big mare was never able to get past St. Nicholas Abbey. Fast forward a season and the wildly capable Ryan Moore is on board, having had her home first in the Japan Cup. Last year, she covered 9 metres more than St. Nick, a non-hollow number considering their margin in the end was just more than the lengths-equivalent of 9 metres. She has to cover extra ground yet again with the draw, and it does leave some potential concern. Can Ryan Moore work out the trip?
#4 MAGICIAN may have won the BC Turf off a long layoff and beating some very spent horses, but he is ripe for defeat in this spot. We can’t think he is 100% for this super-rich turf race. Don’t forget – he had a magical setup in the Breeders’ Cup last year. We have also heard he was bandied-about for a potential sale which fell through after a less than stellar workout in the lead-up to the race. How fast will Festive Cheer go and actually set the table for him, or others? It’s a tough call, but we are tossing him.
The best closer in the race is surely #3 DENIM AND RUBY, the filly who gets a weight allowance from the field here, and who just loves to loaf along in the early going. How quickly can she close into the race if there isn’t a ton of early zip. A few times in her career, you think it will be impossible for her to get in the frame, but she just keeps coming. While her future is wildly bright, and she had a flashy piece of trackwork this week, she also would be equally benefitted by the tactics of Festive Cheer going forward to make the running.
What about #15 CIRRUS DES AIGLES, the 2012 winner of this race? Is he the same horse at eight. He was beaten in a clustered finish in a formal leg stretcher on all-weather, a similar pattern before he won in 2012, but surely others are more fit, better drawn, and more on top of their game, right? #8 MEANDRE has been saddled with nothing but wide draws since landing with Doug Watson. He needs the best race of his life to win, but beyond that, is a phenomenally logical placer.
#10 DUBDAY is very progressive after having a troubled run last time in Qatar, he found gaps late and persevered. Now, here in the UAE, he is piloted by Frankie Dettori and has an ample chance to move forward. Ignore #13 EMPOLI at your own peril. They’ve tried to get him over 2,400+ twice, and both times he was scratched as he wasn’t able to be loaded. The crew has surely worked on him for the big night and we think they have the right chance to take in this spot.
It’s very difficult to like anything of the Dubai City of Gold considering the field is winless in the Dubai Sheema Classic since moving to Meydan (although Cavalryman was a winner in Dubai Gold Cup off a City of Gold placing).
Overall, we have been flummoxed by this race, and our opinion is far from strong – probably the weakest decision of the night for us.
1st – #3 DENIM AND RUBY, 2nd – #12 GENTILDONNA, 3rd – #13 EMPOLI, 4th – #8 MEANDRE
Race 9 – $10,000,000 Dubai World Cup (G1) – 2,000 metres – Tapeta
What a race.
From a betting standpoint, this is an absolute punter’s dream. Options abound left and right. Let’s dive in…
#13 MUKHADRAM is one of two likely pace runners, with #11 HOKKO TARUMAE also expected to run forward. The pace should be true with them, but perhaps not breakneck by any stretch. No interest in either.
#5 SANSHAAWES has been a revelation this season, and the comparisons with Lizard’s Desire, second in this race in 2010, are apt. He’s absolutely fit, clearly gets over the Tapeta in good order, has been competitive at the highest level locally, and is coming off a very wide trip in which he covered 22 metres more than #1 PRINCE BISHOP. We expect Christophe Soumillon to have him placed forward, as has been the case all season. When the running gets going, expect him to be the first to move and be the one to catch late.
Prince Bishop was perfect in his last two, but used the advantage of a good trip to win yet again. While he is likely to get that again, Sanshaawes drawing so well puts him over the top of Prince Bishop in our analysis. We won’t be shocked by him winning or placing, but the bloom may be off the rose with some very good ones drawn well.
We just cannot have any part of #12 RULER OF THE WORLD. The form from the Derby has been poor since, and despite fact he ran a good one in the Champion Stakes, he has been off too long in our opinion. Horses need to be 100% fit to win this race, and it’s been since 1999 when Almutawakel won that a horse won the Dubai World Cup without a start in the same year of the race. Singspiel is the only other horse to do it with that mark – making it 2 of 18 runnings won in that fashion. He’s been the favourite on the international markets from the start. He’s not for us.
Off the same logic, we can’t expect that Mukhadram and Hillstar are at 100%. #14 RED CADEAUX was one of the few to run on from off the pace last year and made up quite a bit of ground after riding the rail the entire way. But he too is off the shelf. His run yielded a $2 million second-prize last year, and think the same is the max this year.
#16 RON THE GREEK is seven, comes off an impressive performance in obviously lesser company when toting a large highweight – what are the chances he runs the best race of his life here? We don’t think that is possible, but can he grab a slice? The draw likely ruins his chances for a win, but still, he is a placing shot beneath a perfect ride from Jose Lezcano.
#6 AFRICAN STORY is the best of the Godolphin chances and you can excuse his poor run last time when he slammed the gate with his head just before the race and was essentially concussed. Excuse him one bad race and he’s right in the mix on form. A legitimate outside threat, well-drawn, and with the leading rider of the Carnival. Compelling.
It doesn’t happen much, but when #10 SURFER gets a decent draw on this surface, he can run well. If you like Sanshaawes at all, you have to like Surfer a bit to maybe grab a slice after a similarly wide run last time.
The Hong Kong horses are in with massive chances, both #4 AKEED MOFEED (a son of Dubawi, whose progeny love the Tapeta), and #8 MILITARY ATTACK. It is presumed both will aim to stalk, which could find them just behind a Prince Bishop or Sanshaawes when it gets time to run. Here’s the thing – almost everyone on course, and we can’t deny it, acknowledges that these horses are just classier and in more recent form than the rest of the shippers from Europe or Japan. It won’t surprise if either one manages to win, with our edge going to Military Attack.
#9 SIDE GLANCE is a legitimate outsider to grab a placing yet again. Apparently, he ran off in trackwork before his seventh in the Maktoum Challenge and ended up going three full circuits of the course, perhaps dulling him for that run. Can you forgive him that and see him third or fourth at long odds? Sure,
SYNOPSIS – Sanshaawes is progressive, in form, peaking, a fan of the surface, a reminder of a DWC 2010 second placer Lizard’s Desire, well-drawn, and will get a better trip than he did last time out covering 22 metres more than Prince Bishop, according to the Trakus data. Military Attack is the in-form class, while Prince Bishop is just in the best form of his life. Akeed Mofeed also holds claims to run a big one.
1st – #5 SANSHAAWES, 2nd – #8 MILITARY ATTACK, 3rd – #6 AFRICAN STORY, 4th - #9 SIDE GLANCE