The ninth night of the 2015 Dubai World Cup Carnival brings us a true final prep for the Dubai World Cup meeting in the form of the Nad Al Sheba Trophy over 2,810 meters (about 1 3/4 miles). The first three finishers in the Dubai Gold Cup from 2014 all prepped in this spot, so there is plenty of reason to think this is a key race.
Below is our analysis for the meeting, along with links to obtain the form.
CLICK HERE for free past performances, courtesy of AmWest Entertainment
Race 1 – $175,000 Cespa Mile Handicap (Rated 100+) – 1,600m – dirt
This race is on dirt, right? Five of the seven runners are either without a placing on the surface or completely new to it, which does make it a rather intriguing bunch. #6 TINGHIR has three wins on all-weather and they are certainly compelling, including that score against two-time Carnival dirt winner I’m Back. He wore blinkers before, so it’s not a new thing for him it would seem, add in the rail draw and he should get plenty of support. A potential problem is his often running back in the field, but the blinkers could handle that. Another factor is the trip could be on the short side for him. All that said, there aren’t many options.
#5 AVON PEARL and #7 ZAIN SHAMARDAL are the most experienced dirt runners, and neither are consistent.
The most regular-firing local of the field has been #2 NOLOHAY, whose two runs in the UAE have been highly credible on grass and will now try to carry it over to the dirt.
Any way you look at this, there is little confidence.
1st – #6 TINGHIR, 2nd – #2 NOLOHAY, 3rd – #7 ZAIN SHAMARDAL
Race 2 – $60,000 IPIC 30th Anniversary Handicap (Rated 80-94) – 2,200m – dirt
A funny bunch here. Cam Hardie was originally named on #8 ASLAN, but Saeed Al Mazrooei, taking off three kilograms, gets this guy down to 50 kilos for the 2,200 meters – a not insignificant major weight break with this field. With blinkers on, we expect him to go back to the front and try to repeat as he did in the maiden. His tail off in form most recently, though, is a big turn off.
#5 PRESS ROOM had been a disappointment in previous local starts before finally winning last time off a wide draw. It could have flipped the switch and he looms a massive danger, and frankly, is the likeliest winner in the race.
#1 JEERAAN was impressive coming back on Layl after seemingly being forgotten last time, and of course Layl came back to win in Carnival company following that. He’s the deserving favorite and most likely winner
#7 CRY JOY has done it from the front before, but wasn’t able to see it out last time on the engine and is another with some apparent distance limitations.
Jeeraan’s win over Layl looms large in the past performances.
1st – #1 JEERAAN, 2nd – #5 PRESS ROOM, 3rd – #8 ASLAN
Race 3 – $110,000 IPIC 1,400 Handicap (Rated 95-105) – 1,400m – dirt
#11 FILFIL missed a start last week after he didn’t eat-up and gets a similar group over 1,400 meters. This guy has plenty of upside and is one of the few who has closed from far back on the Meydan dirt. But this is the toughest spot he’s been in, by far. Toss of the coin.
#13 TIZ NOW TIZ THEN is back over a shorter trip after having been very competitive here when closing into I’m Back two starts ago. He was on the lead last time, probably a mistake, but could be outpaced in the early going.
#3 BANNOCK has finally drawn a decent gate after being saddled with overland trips in his last three. Arguably, we’ve been chasing him since tipping him to win at a big price on December 31, just missing. Now, he gets blinkers and that could do the trick. Without many strong opinions, this is one we think should get another look.
We get a legitimate South American import in #2 HIGH BLADE, and the history on these is so hit and miss. He was soaring in Uruguay, going to the front and hoping not to be caught. He missed the break a bit last time, and now is drawn farthest out. At least he offers some pace, but it will be without us tipping him.
#5 GIFTORM ran very well last week and now wheels right back with another good draw in gate two and will hope for everything to go the same. He’s on a higher mark this week, and carries an extra 2.5 kilograms as a result.
1st – #3 BANNOCK, 2nd – #5 GIFTORM, 3rd – #11 FILFIL
Race 4 – $175,000 Nova Stakes Handicap (Rated 100+) – 1,200m – turf
A fabulous group meeting in this spot. #2 ZAHEE doesn’t have to make a turn, so it should mean less trouble after having encountered some in his last two starts, but will this trip be enough for him?
#5 JAMESIE is the one we want. He was the quickest closer last week over a shorter trip and has been perfectly handled to peak in this spot. It would be a Carnival without a Dave Marnane winner, and this is the guy to get it done.
We thought #9 MASTER OF WAR could improve last time and he did, nearly landing the winning blow against Dark Emerald, whose form is all over this race.
#1 MEDICEAN MAN may have lost a step or two, but he’s been consistent in two runs and think he could step forward. Claiming rider David Parkes get his first ride in the UAE and brings his mount down to the rest of the lot with the weight off his back. He’s dangerous regardless.
1st – #5 JAMESIE, 2nd – #1 MEDICEAN MAN, 3rd – #2 ZAHEE
Race 5 – $175,000 IPIC 2000 Handicap (Rated 100+) – 2,000m – dirt
The local debut of #1 FOOTBRIDGE is here, and the Dubai World Cup could be in the cards with a win. But off a rating of just 109, it seems really just borderline to make the race based on past runnings. The lowest rated horse of the World Cup last year was 113, for what that’s worth. They need something big here, and while he ran well when Shared Belief had so much trouble in the Awesome Again at Santa Anita, he just does not win often, and has never cracked the winner’s circle in a graded event. He’s likely going to be the favorite here, and there is every reason to go against him.
As for Charlie Appleby’s other contender, #2 SAINT BAUDOLINO is by Pivotal, whose progeny have been running OK on the dirt at Meydan from a limited sample. His damsire is the champion Sunday Silence, so there is hope he could go on it.
#7 HENRY CLAY has the rail, the best local form in the race, especially this season, a win over the course and distance, and well, is just the horse they will have to beat. #6 WITHOUT FEAR has a penchant for running forward too, and has three wins and seconds from eight tries on Scandinavian dirt, but those were all over 2,400 meters. He could soften up Henry Clay, but that one still has the advantage.
#5 FARRIER has, for the most part, been running the same race over and over and over. He’ll break through at some point, and it could even be this race, but he’ll have to do it without us on his back.
1st – #7 HENRY CLAY, 2nd – #5 FARRIER, 3rd – #1 FOOTBRIDGE
Race 6 – $200,000 Nad Al Sheba Trophy (G3) Empowered by IPIC – 2,810m – turf
The last main local prep for the Dubai Gold Cup, we have the winner from 2013, and probably a horse who should have been promoted as such in 2014, #10 CAVALRYMAN. He’s the class of the field, a fresh horse, and a winner of this race a year ago by more than five lengths. There’s really no reason to go against him.
#1 MEANDRE is using this as a prep for the long race on the big night too and has shown increased efficiency over the extended trip, beaten just a length by Famous Kid last time. Both he and #8 AHZEEMAH were carrying 60 kilograms, and now essentially get back on relatively level footing with their rivals. Both should enjoy that.
#4 EXCELLENT RESULT is a course and distance winner in low-level handicap company, and he only toted 53.5 kilograms on that occasion when beating #6 STAR EMPIRE more than a year ago. That rival seems to have a lost a slight step from his best, too, but gets on fairly level weights for this and wasn’t entirely disgraced in handicap company over 2,000 meters in January. There isn’t much creativity in our selections, but we think the race seems straightforward enough.
1st – #10 CAVALRYMAN, 2nd – #1 MEANDRE, 3rd – #8 AHZEEMAH
Race 7 – $175,000 IPIC Trophy Handicap (Rated 100+) – 2,000m – turf
#11 SILENT BULLET goes third off the layoff for Godolphin and gets a weight break for his return. We’ve acknowledged the Tha’ir form hadn’t blown us away, but the fact he gets in at 54 kilograms seems a legitimate point. He also gets the services of Harry Bentley, one of our favorite up-and-coming riders, who is dominating the tables in Qatar at the moment. Last time out, Silent Bullet covered the widest trip, another interesting point.
#4 ELLEVAL could easily be a second winner on the card for David Marnane, but he had a bit of hang in him in his last two races, which causes some concern. It’s a tough call, and we will use him in every spot, but side with Silent Bullet for some value.
#3 HAAFAGUINEA didn’t have much excuse last time, outside of a wide trip, but is drawn out there again. He also catches an easier field and is a course and distance winner that gives us reason to use him on mulit-race plays as well.
1st – #11 SILENT BULLET, 2nd – #4 ELLEVAL, 3rd – #3 HAAFAGUINEA