Below is our analysis for the ninth night of the 2014 Dubai World Cup Carnival, led by runners prepping for the Dubai Gold Cup in the Nad Al Sheba Trophy (G3). Godolphin-trained runners have never lost this race, now in its fourth year. Can anyone stop the run?
CLICK HERE to open the US-style past performances, courtesy of AmWest Entertainment (link live when available)
Race 1 – $175,000 District One Phase II Handicap (Rated 100+) – 2,000 metres – Tapeta
Short fields like this, over the Tapeta, almost always yield some funky tactics, and this race seems no different.
Three words: advantage Richard Mullen. In races such as these, Richard Mullen has seized the initiative when offered, not allowing others to dictate a false pace…anyone but himself, that is. We expect #2 OTTOMAN EMPIRE will assume a stalking position, if not on the lead. Doing so, it’s his race to lose.
What happened with #4 SAMURAI SWORD last time? He went from a horse who was closing well from off the pace into a front-runner after trainer Ahmad bin Harmash added cheekpieces. What resulted was a complete reversal of running style, and he backed up stylishly. He was almost one of our value plays in that race on February 20 and we skipped it, fortunately. We honestly don’t know what you’ll get out of him.
#5 PLANTAGENET was victorious in this race last year and gets another light-weight inclusion. The Spanish-bred, now Scandinavian owned runner covered 13 metres more than winner Elleval, who is headed for the Maktoum Challenge Round 3 next week. He clearly enjoys his time here and gets the easiest field of his campaign. A danger to do it again, but at a much shorter price.
Tactically, we just have to side with Ottoman Empire.
1st – #2 OTTOMAN EMPIRE, 2nd – #5 PLANTAGENET, 3rd – #4 SAMURAI SWORD
Race 2 – $110,000 Meydan Sobha Handicap (Rated 95-105) – 1,400 metres – Tapeta
#4 QATOOMAH was completely compromised by the draw last time but ran incredibly well, covering a load of extra ground relative to the first three finishers, all who sucked-up along the inside, including #3 OCEAN TEMPEST, now drawn wide (it’s worth noting #5 VAN ROONEY has a decent draw this time). She was not alone, as #10 DERBAAS was almost as wide, and ran towards the front as well. Derbaas is just 2-for-13 on the all-weather, and is making his tenth start of the UAE season, dating to November 17, when he was a winner on grass at Abu Dhabi. Of the two wide runners last out, we prefer Qatoomah.
#1 FREE WHEELING is back on the all-weather after a strong run when beaten by Alexandra Palace. He was three lengths behind Eastern Rules on grass last week when well-fancied by some others, though not us. He’s never out of the first three on the synthetics, and makes his fourth start of the campaign while toting co-highweight.
#2 TAMARKUZ was a massive disappointment first-up and is back with top weight and a rail draw. That last run was his first failure on all-weather and gets another swing at things, but we go against.
1st – #4 QATOOMAH, 2nd – #1 FREE WHEELING, 3rd – #2 TAMARKUZ
Race 3 – $175,000 District One Handicap (Rated 100+) – 1,200 metres – Turf
A rare small field over this trip at Meydan, and still a toughy. #1 NAWWAAR in against better company and cutting back, #2 GLASS OFFICE hasn’t won since two, #4 KAVANAGH is a winner of the trip but seems off his game, and #5 ROICEAD is in good company having been beaten by a pair of 40-1 shots last time. All four can win on their best here.
#3 DUX SCHOLAR has disappointed since re-arriving in Dubai, but is a winner over 1,000 metres on the straight course. Things clearly have not been straightforward with him, so a jump-up to his best can win this, and wouldn’t be unexpected. It’s just tough to tip him on top.
We don’t rate #6 SEACHANTACH or #7 SILVER OCEAN much of a chance now, but #8 TAKE TEN is definitely a long-shot with ability. He ran credibly on opening night two starts back and could bounce back into the frame as a course and distance winner.
So what’s the tipping point for an on-top selection. We’re going with Take Ten in a bit of an upset. He’s in with the light weight and has the pace to run at from Nawwaar, so he should be close.
1st – #8 TAKE TEN, 2nd – #3 DUX SCHOLAR, 3rd – #4 KAVANAGH
Race 4 – $175,000 District One Phase I Handicap (Rated 100+) – 1,600 metres – Tapeta
#6 ENERGIZER ran off last time, but stayed on for a decent sixth in an effort that is better than it looks considering his early gallop. He’s on the synthetic surface for the first time, and anything is possible there. If he goes forward, he’ll be joined by #8 REBEL SONG, and #5 CAPTAIN JOY won’t be far away.
#3 SOLAR DEITY has just kept going after, this being the eighth start of his campaign, and third in the UAE. He’s benefitted by a strong early tempo, and isn’t the only one who will enjoy that. This is the first time Christophe Soumillon gets on #7 DISA LEADER, he’s drawn on the rail, and we expect he’ll sit back. He’s only toting 56.5 on his back. #4 ZAIN SHAMARDAL was a major beneficiary of a pace collapse as well when a longshot winner on January 16, he could draw into the frame again.
It’s that time.
1st – #7 DISA LEADER, 2nd – #3 SOLAR DEITY, 3rd – #6 ENERGIZER
Race 5 – $200,000 Nad Al Sheba Trophy, sponsored by District One (G3) – 2,810 metres – Turf
#4 CAVALRYMAN won the Dubai Gold Cup well after a Super Saturday prep in which he was beaten just a half-length in a wild finish. He’s eight, and he ran uncharacteristically fresh last season in the 2,400-metre Dubai City of Gold, but if he settles better first-up, he is the choice.
#11 SIMENON is a stayer, no doubt, which makes those runs in Japan and Hong Kong so strong, especially after a gallant effort in the Melbourne Cup. He seems one of those rare flat-racers who is in the best form of his life at the ripe age of seven.
#12 STAR EMPIRE was beaten just a length in this last year and is a course and distance winner. In fact, over this trip, he’s never been beaten more than two lengths at Meydan from four tries. His consistency is superb and deserves a long look if you are thinking of leaving him off. He traveled nine metres more than the winner last time, much more than his margin of defeat. #9 CERTERACH was in there too, going 10 metres more than winner Excellent Result, and the connections are on fire of late. This is a race for him, and he’s overcome trouble of varying degrees this year.
#1 JUTLAND just needs to be let loose on the front end by Pat Dobbs – he seems entirely one-paced, and that could serve him well in this bunch. You get a big class test today for #10 RENEW. If he steps forward, he’ll be competitive here.
Really, a wide open affair and we could easily see a blanket of eight of them at the finish. If #13 RALSTON ROAD draws in, he must be considered a live chance off his good close from last in his previous run. The fresher horses gets placement on top.
1st – #11 SIMENON, 2nd – #4 CAVALRYMAN, 3rd – #9 CERTERACH
Race 6 – $175,000 District One Phase III Handicap (Rated 100+) – 2,000 metres – Turf
We were impressed with #5 SANSHAAWES first-up, tipped him well second-up, and now goes to his same winning distance from his previous start and back on grass. His performance seemed better to us than #6 SAXO JACK’s win, so advantage to the South African.
#11 START RIGHT is incredibly well-handicapped considering those were two top performances in his last two starts, and makes his fifth run of the season. He does have two wins on turf in his career, consecutive efforts from 2010, nine days apart. He deserves a big win at some point, but his proficiency on Tapeta of late leads us to think he’d be one of the favourites in Friday’s first race, and potentially struggle here. He’s in form, so it is tough to completely toss him.
#8 SO BEAUTIFUL improved to a measure last time that was expected first up, beaten less than four lengths by Vercingetorix. A slight move forward gives him a placing claim.
1st – #5 SANSHAAWES, 2nd – #6 SAXO JACK, 3rd – #8 SO BEAUTIFUL