Below is our analysis for Thursday’s races at Meydan. Good luck to all!
Race 1 – Ford Escape Maiden – 1,900 metres – Tapeta
Really seems to be only two main ways to go in this event – #12 BLUE SEA or #14 JOURNALISTIC. Blue Sea ran behind Surfer, who was followed by Interpret (went on to break his maiden last week by 10.5 lengths at Jebel Ali), and generally seems a logical choice off that form. While he has every right to improve off that performance, there might be some question as to whether or not he wants to get this full trip. Blue Sea saved every step of ground around the far turn after being bustled along from the very start to race with prominence. Royston Ffrench had this guy under an all-out drive for about 650 metres, and he did ever so slightly come back after being passed and reclaimed third position on the line, then galloped out past Surfer.
Meanwhile, Journalistic settled towards the rear of the main pack in his sprinting maiden race and lost more ground than Blue Sea did in his one-turn event. He drifted a bit wide in the stretch but also galloped out better than the front two. This colt is by Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense out of the winning mare Cajun Two Step, who includes 9-furlong G2 winner Informed among her get. He was given a few shots over this type of distance on grass and was thus never expected to get that trip last time over 1,200 metres, and now is on a much more significant stretch. This guy offers value.
#11 WISE THOUGHTS was fourth behind Surfer, and the one who dueled with Blue Sea in their last race, with Blue Sea just getting the better of him in the final strides. Worth including.
We’ll give the slight edge to Blue Sea in this spot.
1st – #12 BLUE SEA, 2nd – #14 JOURNALISTIC, 3rd – #11 WISE THOUGHTS
Race 2 – Mazrat Al Ruwayah sponsored by Al Tayer Motors (G2) – 1,600 metres – Tapeta
This was the only race last season won by #3 AF ALGHABRA, coming second off the layoff for Gillian Duffield. It was a dull effort when ninth in the prep for this race in 2011 before taking it last season. The Majed Al Jahouri trainees are going so well at the moment, it’s tough to pick against #1 DARIYA, who bolted in last time in the prep for this, but we will side with the mare who gets the slight weight break yet again.
1st – #3 AF ALGHABRA, 2nd – #1 DARIYA, 3rd – #2 THAKIF
Race 3 – Ford Mustang Handicap (Rated 85+) – 2,200 metres – Tapeta
#2 ROCHDALE just missed catching Zain Shamardal last time at Meydan, losing by only a neck on the wire when it had looked near impossible a few strides before the wire. He succeeds most early in the season, and that time is sunsetting – he likely gets a good trip yet again from barrier four. #3 TANFEETH lost plenty of ground last time out, but is drawn wide and unless Paul Hanagan cuts him across from the start, could catch another wide trip. Last time, Zain Shamardal had a wide go of it as well, and Tanfeeth wasn’t too far behind.
#6 LAYALI AL ANDALUS deserves attention also. He’s 0-for-7 in his UAE career, but does show interest, and now gets back over a trip we think suits him better. He was going best of all in the latter stages of the one mile trip last time out, and is now in that all-important third-up race of the cycle, while well-handicapped. Dangerous.
We really liked Rochdale last time when the race was run under conditions, but the handicap does come into play in this spot. In the end, we side just narrowly with Layali Al Andalus as a result. Richard Mullen should get him in the right spot early and well-measure the trip. There isn’t a ton of pace, and this guy can go from mid-pack too.
Overall, a tough race.
1st – #6 LAYALI AL ANDALUS, 2nd – #2 ROCHDALE, 3rd – #3 TANFEETH
Race 4 – Ford Explorer Conditions – 1,400 metres – Tapeta
#10 SURFER gets a good draw this time and should work out a fine trip for Richard Mullen. He had a dramatic form franking last week when Interpret, second behind Surfer last time by four lengths, came back to break his maiden by a handy space.
#7 PERIPHERY is an impeccably-bred son of Elusive Quality out of Ribblesdale, Musidora, and Yorkshire Oaks winner Punctilious. The sire side suggest 1,400 is OK, but the dam side suggests longer races are in the future for this 3-year-old still seeking his first win. That race in May at Lingfield was game, but as the 8-13 favourite, he just never seemed interested in putting his head in front, and did lose a ton of ground in running. You do have to wonder what problems he may have had, as Periphery was with Godolphin until this start.
#9 SAND STAMP was a winner against the lowly Grand Duchy last January, a horse who finally broke through at the sixteenth asking at Sharjah a few weeks back.
#2 FOREVERTHEOPTIMIST ran even in his first all-weather start but was hardly disgraced when three lengths behind Sand Stamp, who was fourth behind Ganas. He stretches an extra 200 metres but is eligible to improve.
It just doesn’t seem like #12 ANA EMARATIYA has enough to beat these, but factor in the claimer Saeed Al Mazrooei and she is likely to carry only 49 kilos.
1st – #10 SURFER, 2nd – #9 SAND STAMP, 3rd – #7 PERIPHERY
Race 5 – Ford Edge Handicap (Rated 90+) – 1,200 metres – Tapeta
Who is going to run with #6 GANAS again? There really is no other speed signed-on in this spot. It just doesn’t seem like anyone else in this spot is going to challenge him, or has the speed to do that, with #1 HAPPY DUBAI expected to sit chilly just off the pace. Add in the fact he’s only carrying 53 kilograms and he seems the chance.
We really don’t know about #8 MURAWEG’s running style in Bahrain, but can tell you that at least the last five races, which all came through with very fast times, were not timed electronically, but rather manually (which puts all of them into serious question). In four of those five races, he was the top-rated horse in the field but in all of them, never carried top weight. He’s a question mark.
#3 ALO PURA often sits the trip and is the course record holder over the distance. She wasn’t the same last season as in previous tries, but is rarely far away on this surface.
1st – #6 GANAS, 2nd – #1 HAPPY DUBAI, 3rd – #3 ALO PURA
Race 6 – Ford Raptor Conditions – 1,400 metres – Tapeta
Some comebackers in here, most notably #7 MUFARRH, who we thought had a banner chance to upset in the Godolphin Mile two years ago, and almost did it at a huge price. Good to see him back off an injury we thought would send him to retirement.
It could be a big day for Richard Mullen, who gets #8 REYNALDOTHEWIZARD on his seasonal debut. The win over Barbecue Eddie last year stands out, especially as he came back to win off that performance. Three of his four lifetime wins have come in a first-up scenario, exactly what he gets in this spot. Strike while the iron is hot might just be the motto for this gelding by Speightstown – and there should be some pace to run into. Our pick.
1st – #8 REYNALDOTHEWIZARD, 2nd – #9 RUTLAND BOY, 3rd – #7 MUFARRH
UAE 2012-2013 season-to-date: 95 selections – 25 first, 17 second, 17 third (26% winners, 62% top three)