Below is our analysis for the third night of the 2014 Dubai World Cup Carnival. This week’s action is headlined by the $250,000 Al Fahidi Fort (G2), drawing a field of fourteen over the reduced trip of 1,400 metres. This race had been run over a mile in the past.
CLICK HERE to open the form guide, courtesy of the Emirates Racing Authority
CLICK HERE to open the US-style past performances, courtesy of AmWest Entertainment (link live when available)
Race 1 – $110,000 Gulf News Tabloid Handicap (Rated 95-105) – 1,200 metres – Tapeta
#7 ALRAIHJAN is a fascinating runner from Saudi Arabia. Bred there, he has raced exclusively in the company of fellow Saudi-breds, and is always going from the front. Debuting in the mountains at Taif this summer, it was quickly learned he had to cut back from longer races into sprints after popping and stopping. Since then, it’s been all 1,200-metre races and with much success. The one time he didn’t get the lead straight away was his smallest margin of victory.
If he breaks well, the rest of the field has to play “come and catch me.” There really are no significant sprint races in Saudi, with their top form spots coming at 1,600 metres and higher. Shipping here makes sense. His last win in 1:10.06 set the new course record in Riyadh, and it is recorded straight from the break of the gate – in American parlance, that would be roughly equivalent to 1:07.50. He’s fast, and has Mickael Barzalona on board. Barzalona is very used to riding the Saudi horses for this owner, in the Kingdom, winning with five mounts from nine tries the last two seasons, with two third placings. The only other pace presence in this race seems to be #11 MUJAAZEF, coming off his own course record in the ridiculously tail-wind-aided time at Jebel Ali last out. Still, we think they will let Alraihjan go. Overall, it’s obviously a class test, but the way he has lengthened away from his rivals and seemingly had every chance of getting caught – but hasn’t – makes us think he’s ripe for the upset.
#1 INTRANSIGENT’s all-weather form is well down the guide, but it’s there, and it’s good – three wins and two seconds from six tries. He has run close and well out the back, seemingly adaptable to most any pace scenario, and that should be to his benefit. The one race where he got home in front last year was a fairly tidy score at Haydock, beating Firebeam, who had done nothing in two 2013 Carnival starts, beaten a combined 43 lengths. For some reason, he was just 2-1 in that race at Haydock when beaten four lengths by Intransigent, and went on to three consecutive defeats afterwards by 53 ¾ lengths, combined. If he runs well, it’s the change back to all-weather that does it.
If it gets contested on the front end, #2 MERHEE could get well drawn into the race. His style to to settled out the back and make a run, as he has done in South Africa. Another Dubai debuter, he’s likely to come on for this run, and does it off top weight. A chance if they go crazy.
On the reserve list, #16 CONVEYANCE is a wildly interesting runner, emerging off a break of 1,034 days. Obviously, there was some sort of injury that kept him away, but Dubai is a spot where you can have a tidy spell, and he’s back in this spot, well handicapped. You would think he needs this race, but we’ve been hearing he is working up a storm at home. He’s obviously very difficult to take on top, but if he were to shock off the bench, at least you were warned. His presence, given back form, also would be of massive concern to the top pick in this race.
1st – #7 ALRAIHJAN, 2nd – #1 INTRANSIGENCE, 3rd – #2 MERHEE
Race 2 – $110,000 GN Focus Handicap (Rated 95-105) – 2,435 metres – Turf
#2 JUTLAND is one who loves to go forward, and #13 JEDI could as well, but they’d be insane to go blazing away up front as the only ones who seem to like getting out front. The former can win this off his Dubai Gold Cup fourth, but the latter seems overmatched off the shelf. We think #10 HANDSOME MAN is likely to take up a cozy spot behind the speed and run on from there. His first up effort last season at Thirsk was a good one but the quality of that field, and the one on his second-up performance, are still leaving us wanting something more. This is a pace play, really, and think he is the one who will benefit most.
#4 CERTERACH was about 1 ½ lengths away from three wins at the Carnival last year, all in these longer grass races. One could suggest you can ignore a few of those bum races at the end of last season, but they are slightly disconcerting. #3 DORMELLO will likely have to cover extra ground, but had a fairly eye-catching run last time over a trip much too short of his best. It won’t take much for him to improve into a placing here, but he’ll need the pace to be quicker than it seems on paper, in our opinion, to grab the win.
1st – #10 HANDSOME MAN, 2nd – #3 DORMELLO, 3rd – #2 JUTLAND
Race 3 – $120,000 Gulf News Classifieds Handicap (Rated 100-110) – 1,600 metres – Tapeta
It would be foolish to argue with any pick you might have in this race. Value is likely to abound in an absolutely wide-open race with many holding claims here.
The Maktoum Challenge Round 1 also-rans get a test of that race’s form with the presence of the race’s two back markers, #1 CAPITAL ATTRACTION, who had a nice gallop at Meydan on Monday, was a no-show in the Maktoum Challenge Round 1, finishing a long last, and seems ripe to improve in lesser company. The problem might come from the handicap, though, as he is saddled with the top weight.
#2 SOMMERABEND covered an extraordinary amount of extra ground last time out in the listed Prix Luthier, his all-weather debut. He looked as if he was hanging in the stretch, but re-rallied past a rival, Silas Marner, who was 2-from-4 going into that race on all-weather. One of those wins came in early March 2013, when he beat French Fifteen by 2 ½ lengths before he was ninth in the Dubai Duty Free, and Meandre was fourth that day, before his sixth beaten nine in the Dubai World Cup. Overall, that’s good form for Silas Marner, and Sommerabend was quite game in defeating him in that spot which was just five weeks ago. The problem is his draw out in 16 could keep him planted wide again. It’s a chance worth taking in a field of this nature, but this guy could be dangerous at the ripe age of seven.
#3 CHIL THE KITE was subject to one of the worst head-bobs of the year last season when second in the Topkapi Trophy (G2) behind Producer. While he finished on the rail, the son of Notnowcato had covered more ground than the winner and was literally just caught in the last quarter-stride. He can race midfield or back farther, but hasn’t been over 1,400 since his career debut. This race seems within his reach having faced some decent company in 2013, but we still believe a placing chance is more likely than a win.
We’ve chased #12 DISA LEADER for some time, but he’s seems to at least stand a chance to improve second up. On his seasonal debut, he suffered quite a bit of trouble over a shorter trip and should strip fitter for this. We continue to believe he has a win in him. Check out the improvement last season going from a turf race to Tapeta, a decent third, just 1.5 lengths off winner Mufarrh, a former Godolphin Mile second. He’s well drawn, and has plenty of pace to run into, provided by #4 SOLAR DEITY, #7 CAPTAIN JOY, potentially #8 SILVER OCEAN, #14 MONT RAS will go close with Capital Attraction, and #16 NOT A GIVEN could help liven things up. Look out for Disa Leader at a monster price – if he’s going to win, this would be a legitimate field for it to happen.
#5 SPOIL THE FUN has a win and close second from two all-weather starts and seems another well within the mix if the pace is as hot as it appears. He’ll get drawn into the race. His rider had a chance to get over the track last week riding the Spanish imports.
1st – #12 DISA LEADER, 2nd – #5 SPOIL THE FUN, 3rd – #2 SOMMERABEND
Race 4 – $150,000 Xpress Handicap (Rated 95+) – 2,000 metres – Tapeta
This is a significant class drop for the top weighted #1 DADDY LONG LEGS. We expect him to be forwardly placed in this spot, probably just behind #9 IZAAJ and #3 MUTAJARE. Both of them are confirmed speed types, and have little choice but going on with it. Daddy Long Legs, though, has seemingly done everything to prove he can get over this surface, but does so at his own even tempo. The closer he is to the front, we think the more likely he is to simply stay on.
The long break for #2 ZIP TOP is a significant turn-off, and #5 WINDHOEK is first time Tapeta, and in search of the form from early in his career. He can go with prominence but might cover extra ground in doing so today. Still, he’s a shot.
It seems as though #4 MANALAPAN is a bit of a new horse on the all-weather. Put to it after seven grass starts, he ran a shock second at 40-1 in the Diamond Stakes (G3) at Dundalk in October, where he bested Afonso De Sousa and then returned a week later to just miss again. He was getting the hang of it as the races went on, both of them over 2,200 metres, and finds a bigger field and a shorter trip. #10 LAYALI AL ANDALUS ran into that slow pace at a big price on opening night, but did cover about 4 ½ lengths more than the winner last time out, losing by just more than a length.
1st – #1 DADDY LONG LEGS, 2nd – #4 MANALAPAN, 3rd – #5 WINDHOEK
Race 5 – $250,000 Al Fahidi Fort (G2) – 1,400 metres – Turf
This race sees the Dubai debut for #7 HEAVY METAL. His trainer, Sean Tarry is back in Dubai after making an appearance in 2007 with then South African Horse of the Year National Colour, a winner of a conditions event at Nad Al Sheba before blowing the break in the Dubai Golden Shaheen. Heavy Metal traveled through the quarantine protocol with the Mike de Kock runners and is based in de Kock’s yard, with Tarry directing operations from afar. Tarry visited Dubai last week for the final preps, which included a scintillating work on grass Saturday morning. Heavy Metal is a winner from 1,400 metres through the Durban July’s 2,200-metre trip, but like most, is surely in need of this run. He could pop first up with no doubt, but we are going to wait on him to improve for this appearance.
#10 DUX SCHOLAR put in a respectable effort in the Singspiel Stakes on DWCC Night 1, when we said the following: “we think this race is being used to set him up for a cutback, a winning move here last season.” His run was just average in the Singspiel but felt a perfect setup for this. Considering he was just 3 ½ lengths off Moonlight Cloud at this distance, he has the credentials to win this.
#2 FULBRIGHT won here on opening night when he was more-or-less ignored in our analysis. A blinding pace was set by his stable companion Modern History and really drew this guy into the race. He’s now back on grass where arguably less effective, but was third in the Zabeel Mile (G2) behind Trade Storm last season. We missed the wedding first up, not interested in the funeral. Same might be said for #1 ANAEROBIO, who is a winner at this trip, this season. He might be tough to completely ignore with Soumillon getting aboard.
#6 KAVANAGH and #8 TAMAATHUL both had wins on the grass at Meydan last year, and both seem well suited to this group if ready. The former ran last week and has likely just been ticking over at home waiting for this, while the latter’s second to Rafeej was a seasonal leg-stretch. Both have claims, but need a big race to get this. Kavanagh has been in search of firmer ground for a while, and didn’t find it in the UK.
It was a somewhat testing campaign for #13 GALE FORCE TEN last year and he probably has options over both the Tapeta and grass. We’re guessing he might need this run to get into a new level of fitness for his new connections. He is likely going to be well respected in the international markets, but think it might be worth some pause this time by.
1st – #10 DUX SCHOLAR, 2nd – #6 KAVANAGH, 3rd – #8 TAMAATHUL
Race 6 – $120,000 Property Weekly Handicap (Rated 100-110) – 1,800 metres – Turf
#10 SANSHAAWES is only a maiden winner, but the horse he beat that day went on to some good runs in stakes company. He finished his 2013 season at Kenilworth, beaten a length by Capetown Noir, who has eight wins from 14 starts, and just found Group 1 glory again, defeating the highly respected Jackson in the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate two weeks back. Again, only a maiden winner, the company he kept when with former trainer Piet Steyn was top class. So when we saw he was rated 100, it caught our attention. Having to only tote 54.5 kilograms in this handicap should be quite encouraging for as good a first-up run as you might expect. Most of all, he gets the pace setup. There are a host of horses who want to be involved in the early ruck, including #4 DO IT ALL, #6 VASILY, potentially #8 TARBAWI, and definitely #11 WAR MONGER. It takes some doing for a deKock import to win first up, but we’ll take the chance here.
#3 GABRIAL is probably the warmest favourite of the day off the back of his second in the Singspiel Stakes from DWCC Night 1. He had some trouble finding a way through, but ran on quite well. Again, the pace is likely to suite him quite well here, but we favour the handicapper’s treatment of Sanshaawes, who gets in off what we believe to be an underlaid 56.5 kilos. Still, Gabrial is the likeliest winner.
#7 EL ESTRUENDOSO is back on grass after a wide trip and a gets well drawn. His second-up shot last year as a just miss to #2 ELLEVAL in the Meydan Classic Trial, and they meet again. The latter rival could be one drawn into the pace as well, but missed an entry earlier in the Carnival due to spiking a fever. He is in good nick, according to his trainer, but might need this one regardless. We are taking a shot against the favourite.
1st – #10 SANSHAAWES, 2nd – #3 GABRIAL, 3rd – #7 EL ESTRUENDOSO
2013-14 UAE season-to-date: 163 races – 44 first, 22 second, 14 third (27% win, 49% top 3)