Below is our analysis for the fourth night of the 2014 Dubai World Cup Carnival. This week’s action is led by a pair of stakes races, the $200,000 Al Rashidiya (G2) and the $200,000 Cape Verdi (G2), both on the grass.
Race 1 – $175,000 Dubal Excellence Trophy Handicap (Rated 100+), 1,000 metres – Turf
It might seem overly simple to expect that #4 AHTOUG is going to run them off their feet again. He defeated Hototo by a half-length on opening night and just went back to proving this trip is best for him, with all five career wins coming over this distance. Of course he can win. This is his third season running in Dubai, and it is worth noting he never made more than one start in the previous two. He could be going better than ever before. #3 ROICEAD came back to win in a lesser-rated event more than a week after running fourth behind Ahtoug, immediately franking the form.
#5 MERHEE should strip even fitter after nearly making all as the top weight last week, his debut on Tapeta. He isn’t going to have to go much better to land a knockout blow here. That run was fairly surprising given it being first-up after the South Africa ship. He is a half to Musir, who obviously loved more ground than this, but his history shows he loves sprinting.
#7 MEDICEAN MAN won this race last year and that alone puts him in the mix here. #15 DUNGANNON hadn’t won in 14 starts dating to August 2011, beating Medicean Man, when he found a new lease, taking three of four races, defeating 47 rivals in the process. He’s never been a first-up winner, but that end of season run will be difficult for many to ignore.
#10 MASAMAH might be well on in years, but he seems in with a chance. Showed speed and stayed-on last week, finishing behind Jamesie and Merhee, all while covering extra ground. He had almost three months off before his two-race all-weather spell coming into this spot. He has the back class to be competitive.
As is always the case, these races are very wide open, and you are likely well-rewarded with a winning play. We are siding with the obviously healthy and very likely-to-improve Merhee in a hot contest.
1st – #5 MERHEE, 2nd – #4 AHTOUG, 3rd – #7 MEDICEAN MAN
Race 2 – $110,000 Dubal Billet Trophy Handicap (Rated 95-105), 1,900 metres – Tapeta
There is plenty of early zip in here. #3 STRING THEORY has run from the front in his two most recent scores, and #5 REGULATION should go forward after running close in shorter races. #8 ROBERT THE PAINTER and #10 REBEL SONG should both also show some willingness to run forward, the latter almost knowing no other option on this surface.
String Theory is unbeaten on the all-weather, which makes him very tough to ignore. We think the pace might just do him in a bit, even though he won with the greatest of ease last time when dictating terms. Only a placing pick for us.
A true pace and a better trip could be all that #6 CLON BRULEE needs. He covered the widest trip in his local debut when five lengths behind Busker in that dawdling event on opening night. He does have a wider draw in here, but with plenty from the inside looking to go on with things, we don’t envisage a five-wide trip on both turns. He covered 20 metres more than ground-saving Busker last time, and other wide travelers in the race have come back to run well. El Estruendoso was second last week switching back to turf, while Layali Al Andalus was a near-miss second as well, last week – both horses covered 12 metres more than Busker on that opening night race.
#4 OTTOMAN EMPIRE ran well enough last time closing into the aforementioned Busker win. He saved some ground early and then angled out. He’s a Carnival winner and all lifetime success on the all-weather. Like most times with this guy, you simply cannot ignore him.
#1 ABDEL was not disgraced last time out. He ran very close to a strong pace and stayed-on when looking beaten at the top of the stretch. He does not reoppose anyone who was in front of him at the finish in this race, and clearly seemed to get over the surface. This Spanish invader is far from impossible at what is likely ignored odds.
1st – #6 CLON BRULEE, 2nd – #4 OTTOMAN EMPIRE, 3rd – #1 ABDEL
Race 3 – $200,000 Cape Verdi, sponsored by Dubal (G2), 1,600 metres – Turf
What tactics we might see in this race. Five fillies, one mare, and absolutely no one who has shown a regularity for going forward. #1 MENSOORA took up the running her first start and made all en route to an easy win, but was saddled with one of the more unfair draws in racing – wide over 1,400 at Greyville, and just dropped back and traveled wide with no cover. She is probably the one to catch from the rail draw, and does get a non-ignorable weight allowance. They could’ve waited on the Meydan Classic Trial for Mensoora, where she still would have had some weight allowance against the boys, but they didn’t. If she’s ready, this filly is a danger to potentially lead them on a long crawl.
How you deal with #5 CERTIFY is anyone’s guess. None of the horses brought back off these full 2013 breaks has landed a winning blow just yet. Zip Top did nothing last week, Steeler ran a good fourth in the Maktoum Challenge – Round 1, but clearly seemed to need the race also. #3 SHURUQ got a massive tow into that race from the frenetic early pace. Granted, it was a good win for her against older males. She was beaten almost six lengths by Certify in her career debut at Newmarket in July 2012. What Shuruq has going for her is solid local, and recent form, and that cannot be ignored, but the best of it has been on the all-weather.
It was a light season for #4 FLOTILLA after her American win, making only three starts with a win in the French 1,000 Guineas (G1). She beat Tasaday handily, who returns in the Al Rashidiya (Race 5), by four lengths in that race, and she came back to two group-level wins, a near miss in a G1 on Arc day, and two five-length beatings behind Treve. Not bad, but that’s Tasaday we’re talking about. What we do like about her is that she won when fresh, first-up, and has done her best running on firm going, which she’ll get on Thursday.
#6 PEARL OF AFRICA was one of our horses to watch in the Dubai Racing Comprehensive, a group that has produced two Carnival winners so far (Wedding Ring, Jamesie). She has a recency edge over some, but her best grass performances might leave her just a step behind. If she is 100%, she could do it.
#2 L’AMOUR DE MA VIE is winless on grass and sits off the pace in her all-weather performances. She’s tough for us to suggest.
A real mind-bender that could be a very slowly run, tactical affair. There is little reason to think either Mensoora or Certify are at their best, while Flotilla seems to have something to prove, and Shuruq’s best work has clearly been on the all-weather. With proven off-the-bench form, an ability to track behind a relatively slow pace, and decent form-franking behind her 1,000 Guineas win, Flotilla is the pick.
1st – #4 FLOTILLA, 2nd – #5 CERTIFY, 3rd – #1 MENSOORA
Race 4 – $120,000 Dubal Casthouse Trophy Handicap (Rated 100-110), 1,400 metres – Tapeta
You don’t often see a race where a horse ran last time as a Godolphin trainee and within a few months, is now with Sheikh Mohammed’s brother, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum (North American players will recognize the owner as Shadwell Farm). Granted, you see these changes within the sons of Sheikh Mohammed, cousins, and friends, too – but we cannot recall a similar shift with a horse who has been quite successful going to Sheikh Hamdan.
The horse we speak of is #3 TAMARKUZ, who raced for Godolphin through his last start, and easily defeated a field of three rivals at Kempton, where he also scored a devastating result at the end of his 2-year-old season. He’s unbeaten on all-weather, and just shows a massive turn-of-foot that reminds us of what we saw from Cat O’Mountain before he scored on the second night of the Carnival. Curious owner changes aside, Tamarkuz seems the likeliest winner here by a long way. The son of Speightstown normally races from off the pace and it does not seem to be that much interested in blazing along on the front end, so we are thinking he might be a bit closer.
#4 ZAHEE hasn’t had a win in the UAE, but he’s kept decent company and showed he can surely get over the surface. A year on in the desert, horses have been known to improve for the season. He has raced in a variety of positions, so is versatile, but is hardly worth backing to land on top.
#10 EASTERN RULES has three wins from six races on all-weather, although it has been in lesser company. The one thing about him, though, is that he is rarely that far away at the finish. Expect him to show some willingness to attend the pace. The trainer/jockey combo for Eastern Rules scored last week at the Carnival with Certerach.
We tipped #1 MUFARRH in the Maktoum Challenge where he was relatively close to the hot pace and faded, now he is a clear top weight in this bunch. It won’t take much for him to improve third-up and get back in the frame, although you could argue he might be better when over a slightly longer trip. It shouldn’t be much surprise if he has a better showing than last time.
1st – #3 TAMARKUZ, 2nd – #1 MUFARRH, 3rd – #4 ZAHEE
Race 5 – $200,000 Al Rashidiya, sponsored by Dubal (G2), 1,800 metres – Turf
#1 MUSHREQ looks to be the second two-time Carnival winner this season for Mike de Kock after annexing the prep for this race, the Singspiel Stakes, last time out. His Anaerobio won on opening night and then re-upped with the Al Fahidi Fort last week. The horse closest to Mushreq last time came back to win last week, Gabrial, narrowly scoring over another de Kock runner. The fifth home in the Singspiel, Tarbawi, ran a close third behind Gabrial, really supporting the form out of that race. The only concern might be that the rail draw could get him stuck in traffic trouble, something that happened to him significantly last season in his second-up effort, which was followed by two handy wins. Otherwise, he’s very logical.
How about #5 STEELER? He ran very well off a wide trip in his first race against older rivals when fourth in the Maktoum Challenge, beaten just two lengths. There is every reason to think he improves for that run, and potentially even steps forward to get in the mix here, where he is reunited with Kieran Fallon. Steeler was seemingly off the bridle first last time, which we think suggested he was feeling the pressure of his first true competition since October 2012. Stripping fitter, he’s in the mix.
#3 TRADE STORM a two-time winner here last season, taking the Zabeel Mile (G2) is likely in need of this run, and really gets tougher company than he faced in his runs last season. We are going to wait on him.
We are guessing that Godolphin thought the Cape Verdi was too short for #4 TASADAY, choosing to face the boys in this spot instead. Her runs behind Treve give her some of the best form in the race, and she was incredibly gutsy when getting pipped on the line by Dalkala in the Prix de l’Opera (G1) on Arc day last time out. She runs forward, as does stable companion #8 MAPUTO, and it sure certify a decent gallop.
At the end of the equation, it’s too tough to pick against Mushreq to repeat the effort.
1st – #1 MUSHREQ, 2nd – #5 STEELER, 3rd – #4 TASADAY
Race 6 – $150,000 Dubal Potlines Trophy Handicap (Rated 95+), 2,000 metres – Turf
Perhaps we will get some improvement with #2 DADDY LONG LEGS – those long legs will not race with shoes in a change announced by the Emirates Racing Authority well in advance of the race. With he and #1 MASTER PLAN in the race, it throws off the handicap weights a bit, and as a result, we see #6 HAAFAGUINEA get in at 54.5 kilograms.
He is exceptionally well-treated in the weights off his very strong run behind Cat O’Mountain. His official rating, as published by the Emirates Racing Authority dictating weight assignments, was not changed after that defeat when he was running on behind the eased winner. Now, he get back on grass, where he’s had success, including a narrow win against #4 CHAPTER SEVEN, and ran a very good race over a slightly shorter trip. Perhaps the cutback to 2,000 metres is a bit of a concern given the way he ran into the pace of the longer race at 2,200 last time, but we can ignore that fact given his back success over this distance.
We get our first real test of the form from the 2,000m contest two weeks ago when #5 AUSSIE REIGNS just missed when Sheikhzayedroad beat him more than a length. The pace set in that race was frenetic as Energizer when whirling away on the lead, surely opening the door for someone from the backfield, and they both closed well. While there is some speed here, it does not appear to be breakneck, as #13 IZAAJ and #12 EXPENSE CLAIM should be two to go on with it. As it stands, we’ll let Aussie Reigns beat us in our effort to prove the pace last out was crazy enough that it drew him into the race.
#11 SAXO JACK is drawn wide and might have to cover extra ground as he did two weeks ago, but he arguably hit the lead too soon and then just stayed-on to be ten lengths back of Cat O’Mountain. His fourth behind Haafaguinea at Newbury could stand up to get a slice here, if not more.
#14 MOONLIGHT DASH has done little in top company, but sneaks into this race after obliterating the field at Abu Dhabi on January 19. He’s near impossible to have on top, but a placing chance at a price is not out of the question.
1st – #6 HAAFAGUINEA, 2nd – #11 SAXO JACK, 3rd – #14 MOONLIGHT DASH
2013-14 UAE season-to-date: 181 selections – 45 first, 22 second, 15 third