The fifth night of the 2015 Dubai World Cup Carnival is upon us, and it brings co-features in the UAE 1,000 Guineas and the second round of the Maktoum Challenge (G2). A small and compact field is drawn for the Guineas while the Maktoum Challenge features the return of Dubai World Cup winner African Story, making his dirt debut.
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Race 1 – $55,000 Maktoum Challenge – Round 2 for purebred Arabians (G1), empowered by IPIC – 2,200m – dirt
#9 CALLATERAL had an impressive performance when winning on dirt at Sharjah, albeit in maiden company. He finished last year with a big improvement and this yard is flying at the moment. #1 RAAZIQ has disappointed in two starts this year and would have been an on-top tip were it not for a disappointing run at Abu Dhabi last out. #3 RICHLORE appreciates these longer trips and was staying on at the end of her first try of the Meydan dirt over shorter.
1st – #9 CALLATERAL, 2nd – #1 RAAZIQ, 3rd – #3 RICHLORE
Race 2 – $110,000 Nova Stakes Handicap (Rated 95-105) – 1,200m – turf
There is absolutely nothing straightforward about this wildly competitive event, with many angles in play.
If #18 FITYAAN draws into the race, which seems a longshot as second reserve, he is the selection after two very solid efforts and seeming to want the extra 200 meters he would get in this event. While we put him on top, take note that there are three behind him in our selections below.
#1 ALMARGO gets a load of changes for this race. While Mickael Barzalona is in the weighing room for this, apprentice Cam Hardie gets on and takes off 1.5 kilograms, effectively dropping him toward the bottom of the handicap in this spot. He adds blinkers and a shadowroll, and gets a class and distance drop after a first-up turf try yielded nothing, followed by a listless dirt attempt. Now third off the slight freshening, he comes back over the shorter trip, where he hasn’t had much opportunity in the past. Still, he races forward which is to his benefit in this group and offers value in a race with so many chances.
#16 AJJAADD is another who would likely appreciate the added ground he gets this week following two tries over 1,000, not disgraced in either. #9 MASTER OF WAR has two of three wins at this distance, granted way back in his career, and should appreciate the return to grass.
1st – #18 FITYAAN, 2nd – #1 ALMARGO, 3rd – #16 AJJAADD, 4th – #9 MASTER OF WAR
Race 3 – $250,000 UAE 1,000 Guineas (Listed), sponsored by Nova an IPIC Empowered Company – 1,600m – dirt
Another small bunch for this, which includes a Guineas Trial reprise with #5 LOCAL TIME, #1 AD IDEM, followed by well-beaten #3 RUNNER RUNNER and #6 GOOD PLACE, who was slow into stride and ran on OK to be fourth.
Local Time needed every inch of the stretch to get past Ad Idem, who clearly showed she liked the dirt and being on the front end. With an even more tactical race expected, we think Ad Idem is the one to move forward here, getting away with a slower pace. As the trial was her first race in 8 ½ months, she surely would have room to improve.
Take nothing away from Local Time, but you have to think her recency edge over Ad Idem was a massive help in getting home on top. The South African horses fighting first-up is a great sign for health, and we think Ad Idem moves forward here.
There was nothing pretty about the three-runner race won by #2 YODELLING. She broke on top and was restrained as her two rivals were incredibly slow away and just settled behind the leader. Those races weren’t much more than a workout and she is likely to find this tougher. That said, her unexposed nature just leaves us uncertain what she actually could be.
Good Place deserves another shot after a brutal dispatch last time.
1st – #1 AD IDEM, 2nd – #5 LOCAL TIME, 3rd – #6 GOOD PLACE
Race 4 – $75,000 Meydan Classic Trial Conditions sponsored by Cepsa an IPIC empowered company – 1,400m – turf
Mike de Kock has a handful in here and seems likely to get the job done with one of them.
#2 MASTERMIND ran very well first-up against elders when he and two others, Kanaf and Fils Anges broke well away from a bulky lot. Straight away, he looked like a massive improver and was likely still on the gallop out when we thought the Meydan Classic trial and full edition in a few weeks would be likely for him. Fils Anges came back and won fairly easily last week providing a hearty frank to the form. This guy is our best of the day.
#1 FORRIES WALTZ will try to do it first-up, not the easiest task for sure but it has been done before. He’s unbeaten in three starts, which is what will likely attract plenty of South African support on the tote.
We mentioned #3 BURNT SUGAR when talking about Maftool in the UAE 2,000 Guineas Trial, having defeated him before going on to a good fourth in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1) on the Arc undercard. He comes from well off the pace and has a European class edge on many here.
#11 VOLATILE is a pace presence. He couldn’t go the gallop on the dirt, which was a bit frustrating as we fancied him quite a bit then.
1st – #2 MASTERMIND, 2nd – #3 BURNT SUGAR, 3rd – #1 FORRIES WALTZ
Race 5 – $150,000 IPIC Trophy Handicap (Rated 95+) – 2,810m – turf
Quite a group in here that are well separated in the weights which requires you really take a long look at some down at the bottom. Still, some of the more familiar faces are likely to be in with big chances, including #1 AHZEEMAH.
Our selection is far from original in going with #4 STAR EMPIRE, who won this race two years ago and just always runs a good one. He just missed this last year when racing over 60 kilos and now gets into this at 58.5, surely a bit of a break.
How about #10 EARTH DRUMMER turning into a stayer, matching his pedigree, last time when making a big jump to 2,435 meters? We were impressed. He ran on very well and looked willing to keep doing it. If that progression continues, we give him a big chance off a very favorable handicap at 53 kilos, which draws the services of Sam Hitchcott. #11 FAMOUS KID is well worth the look too off a light weight. He tends to race forward and might be sent up with the pace given the draw in 14.
#7 AUSSIE REIGNS, who was very clearly getting a prep last time, now gets a huge lightweight shift and should move forward in this spot.
#9 DUKE DERBY isn’t impossible, also off a very low weight that gets a top rider in Silvestre DeSousa aboard. He’s been competitive against lesser in Scandinavia and we know he can, more or less, stay the trip.
Many oddities and many chances to consider with the weights as they are, and we haven’t even addressed horses like #8 ELIDOR. Can’t talk about them all.
1st – #4 STAR EMPIRE, 2nd – #7 AUSSIE REIGNS, 3rd – #9 DUKE DERBY
Race 6 – $250,000 Maktoum Challenge – Round 2 (G2) empowered by IPIC – 1,900m – dirt
#5 SURFER might not get things as easy as he did in the first round of the Maktoum Challenge, when he rode the plastic to an easy score. The presence of #1 CAPITAL ATTRACTION, normally a pace attendee, and #3 COOPTADO should ensure that they keep the rail advantage for as long as possible. Surfer has just had things fall his own way in the last two wins which may not have been as impressive as they looked.
Now, Cooptado was a solid first-up winner when taking the Entisar back in December, and was purposely held out until this race came around. The form hasn’t exactly worked out from those behind him, but he goes forward and that is worth something in this group.
#9 FRANKYFOURFINGERS was drawn wide in the Maktoum Challenge, his dirt debut, and ran with plenty of credit. Now he adds another 300 meters, an extra turn, and faces a race with plenty of other competition for the early pace.
Last year’s winner of this race, #2 PRINCE BISHOP, did it first-up and did it well. His dam, North East Bay, is a half to graded stakes dirt winner Blingo, and the Dubawi’s overall, can get over this surface. Mubtaahij, winner of the 2,000 Guineas Trial, is a good example of that. He was a first-up winner a year ago, and well-drawn again. He will likely settle behind the main pace, and there seems to be plenty of that.
Welcome back to the 2014 Dubai World Cup winner, #4 AFRICAN STORY. The Gone West influence on his dam-side pedigree could come into play. He’ll get plenty of attention and could be anything on the surface. But like, Prince Bishop, he too is an 8YO gelding. When will the interest start to wane?
We might be getting too creative for our own good, but #7 EMIRATES FLYER really intrigues us. He covered 17 meters more than Surfer in their last run, a distance equating to more than 6 ½ lengths, averaging the same speed as the winner too. He was beaten just more than four lengths. It was a respectable run first-up on the dirt and there he looked like he wouldn’t mind this additional ground. He ran on to be second over this trip in the Al Bastakiya last year, then did the same in the UAE Derby. Likely to settle off the pace, he seems likely to get a good tow into the race and if Adrie De Vries can work out the trip, he looms a big value.
1st – #7 EMIRATES FLYER, 2nd – #2 PRINCE BISHOP, 3rd – #4 AFRICAN STORY
Race 7 – $120,000 Cepsa Mile Handicap (Rated 100-110) – 1,600m – turf
Another wildly competitive handicap to round out the night at Meydan. Good luck in here!
Off 16 months, #1 AJEEB sure ran well first-up when behind Hototo, and in front of next-out winner Ahtoug. He’s now back over a preferable trip as 1,000 meters was clearly much too short for him, and likely served as a great workout. The price might not be much in this group, but lacking another strong sentiment, he’s the pick on what could be a big night for Mike de Kock if our tips hold up.
#7 MUSIC THEORY was beaten as favorite when Safety Check got it done first-up before going on to Al Fahidi Fort glory. Given his running style, we think he might get hung out a bit wide here drawn in eleven, and it might be worth taking him on.
#10 SLUMDOGMILLIONAIRE is due to improve after his first run and now has a slightly better draw to do it from, not to mention a better handicap relative to this group.
#12 ROYAL RIDGE showed improvement getting back on grass after a failed dirt experiment. He is one of many with chances and you should get some legitimate value.
Another of Mike de Kock’s cadre in here is #14 CAPTAIN LARS who now gets an inside draw and goes second-up. He was somewhat surprisingly the tote favorite when racing last time, and a short one at that in a bulky field. The value is back, probably.
The price will definitely be right on #16 VAN ROONEY, a horse who has absolutely done his best on the grass. With the apprentice allowance, he is a clear bottom weight here and that is inviting in a group that doesn’t have much between then. He normally runs from off the pace, which should suit given the draw in gate 14 forces him back there.
1st – #1 AJEEB, 2nd – #7 MUSIC THEORY, 3rd – #16 VAN ROONEY