The first night of the 2014 Dubai World Cup Comprehensive is finally upon us. We get feature action immediately in the form of the Maktoum Challenge for purebred Arabians, and it goes deeper later in the card, with the first look at the Thoroughbreds.
Remember that saddlecloth numbers and post positions do not match for all races. Be sure to consult the form guide/past performances.
CLICK HERE to view the form guide (click “Download as PDF” to open), courtesy of the Emirates Racing Authority
CLICK HERE to open the US-style past performances, courtesy of AmWest Entertainment (link live when available)
Also, don’t forget to review our preseason thoughts in the Dubai Racing Comprehensive. If you are new to the Carnival, especially from North America, you’ll want to get the insight on how to interpret some of the form comments that you might not be accustomed to seeing.
Race 1 – $55,000 Al Maktoum Challenge R1 for Purebred Arabians Presented by Longines (G1) – 1,600 metres – Tapeta
#10 AREEM won this race a year ago after making all from the front – that is his game, 100% – turf, Tapeta – no matter. It does seem as though there are a few others who could chase the pace, though, and if they really burn up front, set it up for #1 SHAYEL ALDHABI, #8 AF LAFEH, #2 RABBAH DE CARRERE, or #5 BIGG N RICH. Really, to us, it’s all about how fast Areem goes that yields the result of this event. We’ll side with the fact that he gets things his way.
1st – #10 AREEM, 2nd – #2 RABBAH DE CARRERE, 3rd – #1 SHAYEL ALDHABI
Race 2 – $120,000 Longines Master Collection Handicap (Rated 100-110) – 1,000 metres – Turf
They don’t get much tougher than this one to start the Thoroughbreds at the Carnival, that’s for sure. If you have followed our analysis in the past, recognize that we rarely have strong opinions in these races as they are often ridiculously wide-open affairs. This race is no different.
#15 ROICEAD sneaks into this field and gets a slight weight break over some others. In five career starts at this distance, on grass, he has two wins and a decent third, and both times he won, he beat former Carnival performers (Nocturnal Affair, The Reaper). The third placing was a neck behind Sole Power and 2 ¼ lengths ahead of Invincible Ash. Really, we are just trying to prove that he has the back class that, if called-upon, could yield a nice score. Also encouraging is that he has been in the UAE for some time, and his two races this season are far from disgraceful – finishing behind two top quality local sprinters in #2 RAFEEJ and Muarrab. He could wake up here at a bit of a price.
Speaking of Rafeej, we are really quite disappointed he’s in this spot. It won’t necessarily keep him out for long, but we thought he was better suited to the Tapeta given his handy score last time. We aren’t as interested here.
It’s great to see Andrea Atzeni back at the Carnival, as he’s much improved since his tries here in 2011-2012 where he earned seven placings, but no wins, from 54 starts. He gets the mount on #8 MY PROPELLER for Peter Chapple-Hyam, who has trained a winner from four starts in the UAE. We tend to prefer action to the standside of the course, and that is where My Propeller is drawn. Two of his four lifetime wins have come on good-to-firm ground, which he should get despite some likely added give due to the chance of rain prior to Thursday’s card.
We like seeing the local leg-stretcher for #4 TAKE TEN, getting a run on dirt at Jebel Ali in late December, where he was running on at Muarrab, the fastest local sprinter this season. He won in a lesser event at Meydan last season, and most all of his career success has been on grass, so he’s in the mix…unfortunately, many others are too.
#3 HOTOTO is back after a long break. He should need this race, as he seemed to show last year when uninterested first up, then shipping to Qatar and running a good one. An extra 200 metres might be his desire, also. #7 MONSIEUR JOE had a brilliant Carnival in 2012, but ran into the Shea Shea buzzsaw last season, when getting his local debut quite late. If back to his best, he has a shout.
1st – #15 ROICEAD, 2nd – #4 TAKE TEN, 3rd – #8 MY PROPELLER
Race 3 – $110,000 Longines Saint Imier Handicap (Rated 95-105) – 1,900 metres – Tapeta
We were in line thinking that #4 IZAAJ had a pace advantage over this field given what happened last time out, when he nearly walked the dog over the well-fancied, and much higher-rated, Meandre. But Adrie de Vries took the mount on #9 BUSKER, throwing us for a bit of a loop.
#3 EL ESTRUENDOSO has had 11 months off and was never really all there last season, having made two starts at the 2013 Carnival. But after undergoing a substantive equipment change – gelding – he has Mike de Kock excited about the possibilities this season. Still, one has to think he is in need of this race.
We chased #5 OTTOMAN EMPIRE last year and got his good side when a handy winner in February. It’s easy to look at him and think he might need the run, and rounds into form as the races go by, but he has won off the shelf in the past (and it’s not like he’s been off for that long). All five career wins are on the all-weather, which makes us wonder why he ever really runs on grass in the UK. Regardless, the presence of Richard Mullen on this new Satish Seemar trainee excites us – Mullen is incredibly aware of the pace in races, and is one of the few who will take advantage of a dawdle. This race looks to be very slow-to-develop on paper, and Ottoman Empire should secure a cozy early spot if well-ridden. Horses drawn to his inside, #8 SPECIFIC GRAVITY and the likely well-fancied #6 TRANSPARENT are not likely to be vying for early command.
Speaking of Transparent, the American-bred son of Bernardini has had some impressive races, including times where he found significant trouble in running. There is nothing shaming about chasing Will Take Charge, but it does seem to be asking quite a bit of this guy to be a winner first-off-the-plane, on Tapeta, in his first legitimate try against open company.
#7 CLON BRULEE might draw attention, earning a good third against Sharestan (a 2013 Carnival winner). His lone try on all-weather was awful, and almost all his racing has happened over trips slightly longer than this. A patient ride could have him midfield or so, taking the kickback, and is too suspect on the surface for us to take a chance.
1st – #5 OTTOMAN EMPIRE, 2nd – #4 IZAAJ, 3rd – #6 TRANSPARENT
Race 4 – $110,000 Longines Dolce Vita Handicap (Rated 95-105) – 1,400 metres – Tapeta
#2 OCEAN TEMPEST has never been out of the placings from six all-weather starts, now emerging off a campaign that saw ten races in 5 ½ months. The consistency of the efforts was incredibly impressive, seemingly always improving as the season went on. That gives us pause for this first run in 3 ½ months now, though.
#10 JAMESIE is a very recent arrival to the UAE, as David Marnane’s runners just got in on January 4, along with some others too, but we don’t have that entire list. With four seconds in his all-weather form, he clearly can get over the surface. Marnane tabbed him as the likeliest to succeed in the mix for the Carnival, but might need this one to acclimate most.
#7 MONT RAS had five wins from nine starts last year, the last being on December 19 in his all-weather debut. That win came off a three-month break and he was fully extended from 600 metres out to get the score over a 4-6 favourite. That horse, Grey Mirage, had been beaten a short way by #8 MY FREEDOM in a Wolverhampton race last October.
For Godolphin, My Freedom is 2-from-3 in all-weather races, but failed in his lone try at Meydan last year over a slightly longer trip, but it came with plenty of excuses. He missed the break from a wide draw and was last, hardly his typical place in running, went to the rail, began to run on but was never going to catch the frontrunners. While commencing that run, he was squeezed short of room in stretch after which Ted Durcan completely stopped on him. My Freedom was probably going to run about sixth or seventh, but faded off tenth after the mishap in the lane, and an offending jockey was sent off for three UAE meetings as a result of the interference.
Fast forward to his most recent run in October, and My Freedom broke well out wide and was sent on towards the front, chasing from out deep the entire trip. He surely covered more ground than the next two finishers, and still drew away with Silvestre DeSousa aboard to record the tidy win. He’s the pick.
1st – #8 MY FREEDOM, 2nd – #7 MONT RAS, 3rd – #10 JAMESIE
Race 5 – $150,000 Singspiel Stakes Presented by Longines Prima Luna (Listed) – 1,800 metres – Turf
#1 DUX SCHOLAR was a winner over a straight turf sprint here last year, and very unlucky in Singapore when saving ground, losing all chance after an incident. Still, he’s fairly consistent, and that fourth at Longchamp was very good relative to the rest of this field. 1,800 metres isn’t as much of a stretch as it seems given his back form, but we think this race is being used to set him up for a cutback, a winning move here last season.
Three local starts this season for #12 DERBAAS, and his only win was a desperate result against the ancient War Monger at Abu Dhabi, and he couldn’t get Nawwaar after that, while running evenly on Tapeta last time. There is back class on grass, having won the Al Fahidi Fort in 2011, but that was then…
How you deal with #3 ARTIGIANO is up to you. No one has a clue, bar a few inside Godolphin, how fit he is for this role. Facing older horses for the first time, off a 14-month break, and over a trip farther than he’s run in the past, you just don’t know what to expect. You almost want to believe that Godolphin has run some training races back home, more than just trackwork, to get a colt like this fit yet again. He is bred to run long, and actually, for the dirt. His competitiveness with horses like Dawn Approach and Olympic Glory lead you to believe he has the goods, but will they come Thursday?
Gosh these seems like an ideal spot for #2 DAVID LIVINGSTON, doesn’t it? He can’t really be compared to many other de Kock trainees in that he made some appearances in Europe after just one local run last year. He might be wanting for slightly more ground, but he seems quite logical. After David Livingston won the Rose of Lancaster (G3), second home Telescope went on to win the Great Voltigeur (G2) eleven days later, immediately franking the form. If this were a handicap, David Livingston would owe most of this field some weight, but on relatively level scales, he’s a big contender.
Over the last two seasons in Dubai, #7 DO IT ALL has been 10th beaten 18, 10th – distanced, 12th – distanced, 11th beaten 13, and 14th – distanced…and won the Group 2 Zabeel Mile by almost two lengths. He goes to the front and hopes to be in the mix at the end. But if he does it here, it won’t be with our support. What he does provide is much needed pace in the race. #11 BURANO could go forward as well. Still, the stalking tactical advantage goes to David Livingston, who should track this pair in the second flight, and will surely enjoy a ground-saving trip.
1st – #2 DAVID LIVINGSTON, 2nd – #1 DUX SCHOLAR, 3rd – #3 ARTIGIANO
Race 6 – $250,000 Al Maktoum Challenge R1 Presented by Longines (G2) – 1,600 metres – Tapeta
#10 BARBECUE EDDIE won this race a year ago, managing his first Graded/Group stakes win in his very long career. He did it against a less than top-notch field, and essentially, he gets that again today. He had a local leg-stretcher in a decent handicap won by the quality local runner Surfer. He was slow into stride in that race, pinched back soon after the start, and was running much too keen in the early going, his head all askew, seemingly uncomfortable with is early position and the tight quarters. Watching some of his past replays, when he is completely surrounded by rivals, he runs awkwardly. The widest draw should help him settle better than last time, in our estimation. We think he has a chance to improve off that last effort, but any way you look at it, it’s still a tall task to think he’s at his best to win it again. We would be amongst those cheering him home, but it won’t be because we tipped him on top.
#7 MUFARRH emerges from the same prep as Barbecue Eddie, having been second in that race behind Surfer after not the smoothest of trips. To put that last race in perspective, the final time of 1:37.49 was just .15 seconds slower than the par time for a Carnival race over 1,600 on the Tapeta. This fella races from off the pace and does need some speed in front of him to be drawn into the race, and he almost always shows-up over this course and distance. He was a winner in his third-up effort last season at this trip, having been beaten just two lengths in this race before that. From a back-class standpoint, he was second in the Godolphin Mile from 2011.
#3 SAMURAI SWORD comes out of the same race as the two aforementioned runners, slipping up the rail late for a placing. It was an encouraging run off the layoff and he should get some toe into the race from the pace presence. Still, it would take a career best effort to win this, and those types are always tough to tip.
It’s fascinating to see #9 REROUTED in this spot. He was twice a Carnival winner last year and was rated 115 by the local handicapper in the UAE when he ran sixth beaten five lengths by stablemate Soft Falling Rain in the Godolphin Mile, and then dropped two pounds to 113 after the performance. The numerical ratings serve to identify the class of horses eligible for particular handicaps, and can be found for all horses at EmiratesRacing.com. In our preseason discussion with his trainer Mike de Kock, found in the Dubai Racing Comprehensive, he indicated he believed the rating for Rerouted was a bit high given his performances in handicaps, and not in stakes company. While this isn’t the toughest field, our general perspective on this first-up de Kock performer is that he is likely in here for a pure prep run (the booking of young jockey Andrew Nienaber suggests that as well, even though Pat Cosgrave, who would likely have had the ride, is on suspension), and would likely see his handicap rating fall back around 110 or lower with a standard first-up run as we’ve come to expect from de Kock trainees.
#1 DADDY LONG LEGS is winless since the 2012 UAE Derby, and put in one half-decent effort in three Carnival starts last season. That last run at Newmarket has all the look of a leg-stretcher before getting on the plane to go to Dubai. He’ll need to prove his fitness.
#2 BRENDAN BRACKAN’s three all-weather performances in Ireland were nothing to write home about, beaten almost four lengths by the handy Declaration of War, and before that, beaten almost three by a horse named Muck ‘N’ Brass. That rival was beaten a combined 56 lengths in four tries at Meydan last year, it’s worth noting. Brendan Bracken was a winner of the Solonoway (G3) at The Curragh two starts back, where he did handily defeat UAE Derby second Elleval. The favourite in that race was Darwin, who had a win against the solid Gordon Lord Byron in a Group 3 just prior to the Solonaway – so it was a solid performance. Still – these horses just so rarely translate that form to the Tapeta. Trainer Ger Lyons was a winner here on opening night last year when the recently retired Lily’s Angel won a handicap. In the end, it looks like this could be a prep run for the Al Fahidi Fort, Zabeel Mile, or something similar. Refuse to take a short price on this guy.
#5 STEELER emerges from an October 2012 layoff, and if you are to believe Monday’s comments from Godolphin manager Simon Crisford, “We decided recently to continue with some of the horses who did not race last year.” How recently is anyone’s guess. Progeny of Raven’s Pass have been quite successful on the all-weather, yielding black type 3-year-old winners at last year’s Carnival in the form of Lovely Pass (UAE 1,000 Guineas) and Secret Number (Al Bastakiya), plus the UAE 2,000 Guineas second and Al Bastakiya third, Snowboarder. One has to think he can get over this surface without a problem, the question is the layoff. To some extent, if Artigiano runs a big race in the Singspiel Stakes, that should, in some form, make you think Steeler is capable of a big one. The highest strike rate for Saeed bin Suroor trainees is first off the layoff, but Charlie Appleby’s sample-size is much more limited to analyze. If any horse is going to emerge as a big, bright new campaigner in Dubai from this race, it’s likely to be Steeler. But it won’t be with us tipping him.
#4 CAPITAL ATTRACTION is a three-time Meydan winner, including a score on the second night of the Carnival last year. This is a prime spot for him, but we have to think the connections are aiming for down the road. Outside of his maiden win to start his 3YO season, his first-up runs for this and other trainers have not been winning ones. The top form line on his mark is the second from last year’s Burj Nahaar, when he was dismissed at astronomical odds on the tote. While it’s not out of the question he wins, we side against.
So – how does it all unfold? Pace is likely from Daddy Long Legs and Brendan Brackan with Capital Attraction and Steeler not far away. If they go out blazing away, it can set the table for someone from off the pace, and we prefer Mufarrh most of all in that position. Steeler is the wild card, and you have to use him in some respect.
1st – #7 MUFARRH, 2nd – #5 STEELER, 3rd – #10 BARBECUE EDDIE
Race 7 – $120,000 Longines Conquest Classic Handicap (Rated 100-110) – 1,400 metres – Turf
Australian import #5 COMPLICATE is the pick in this full field nightcap. His last two starts were very strong, defeating stable companion Academus in that last run at Caulfield, and running away from the field at Mornington before that. In both of those races, he covered extra ground and will likely have to do so again here, drawn in gate 13. #2 NAWWAAR from gate 16 is likely to go forward and might cut across him, but the always patient Silvestre De Sousa, who has been hitting at a 25% clip in Saudi Arabia this season, gets the call and provides little worry. Overall, we think this guy could end up the the shortest price on the card. In 13 lifetime starts, he has been out of the quinella just four times, and beaten more than 2 ¼ lengths only once, his career debut when sixth by four. Onward and upward!
Nawwaar is going forward, and #3 ROYAL RIDGE will probably attend the pace, which could be quick. We think #4 ANAEROBIO drops off the speed to track, but #1 IGUAZU FALLS could always go on with things up front, as he has at times in the past. #16 THE GOLD CHEONGSAM deserves legitimate consideration and is drawn on the rail. She could get shuffled back and make it tougher to find a way through, but the end of her 2013 season brought about some greater consistency after early season stumbles.
#9 FREE WHEELING got six months off after the Carnival and came back with three runs over a month in the UK, all on grass. His back form is on grass, despite good efforts on the all-weather at Meydan, and should appreciate the return to firmer going.
#12 ACROSS THE RHINE was a winner at the 2011 Carnival and then off for 14 months before two relatively poor results last year. He came back for a leg-stretcher in Abu Dhabi and was running on at the finish. It might be tough to beat the top pick, but he’s in the mix.
You really wouldn’t believe how many hits DubaiRaceNight.com gets from Mauritius when #6 DISA LEADER runs, and he often is never too far back. He’s a fighter, and was beaten less than fourth lengths in this race a year ago. Believe it or not, he’s in with a placing chance.
1st – #5 COMPLICATE, 2nd – #12 ACROSS THE RHINE, 3rd – #9 FREE WHEELING
2013-14 UAE season-to-date: 132 races – 37 first, 20 second, 12 third (28% win, 52% top 3)