Below is our analysis for Thursday’s card at Meydan, sponsored by Expo 2020, recently awarded to Dubai! A very exciting time awaits in the next decade. Overall, there is a bit of everything in this meeting and more than 36,000 dirhams are on offer if you can correctly top all six winners on the card. A handsome prize if you can land it given some of the minefields that await for tipsters.
Race 1 – Mazrat Al Ruwayah Prep Sponsored by Expo 2020 – 1,600m – Tapeta
#2 THAKIF improved significantly in his second start last year, which was in this race when second behind Dariya. He cut out the running in both Meydan starts last season, and could be asked to do something similar. Off the back of a leg-stretcher at Abu Dhabi when behind a few others who would be well-supported in this field, he has to be the easiest to like in this field.
#5 BIGG N RICH has put in two of the poorer performances of his career in his two 2013 starts, but is arguably best on the all-weather. If he rebounds third-up, it is feasible this entire gets drawn into the race off the back of a patient Gerard Avranche ride.
#10 TM SUPER BIRD surprised us last season when she ran a very close second in the Bani Yas (G2) at Meydan. Her dirt form in America was quality, and just didn’t think she would carry that over for his UAE connections, but she did. Our only concern with the top pick is that this mare is likely to challenge throughout on the front end, her typical racing position.
1st – #2 THAKIF, 2nd – #5 BIGG N RICH, 3rd – #10 TM SUPER BIRD
Race 2 – Expo 2020 Maiden – 1,600m – Tapeta
Could another Satish Seemar debuter bolt home? We think it’s very possible. #5 PUZZLEMAKER will likely have to overcome some difficulty with a rail draw, but he has our attention. This gelding is out of the Dubai-raced mare, Forty Greeta, herself a Group 1 winner in Argentina. She dropped Fort Hughes, who raced only three times, but was twice a winner, including a listed stakes, and second in his only other start. That lone defeat came by a head to a horse he beat next out, Royal Currier, who has gone on to 12 wins from 35 starts, earnings of more than $700,000, including several stakes races.
Granted, neither Fort Hughes or Royal Currier are running on Thursday – this is about Puzzlemaker. But the connections have been incredible with their young debut (or near debut) runners this season, scoring with Calculated last week at Jebel Ali, and Comicality on opening night at Meydan. Puzzlemaker is the one.
It sure seemed like last time was the time for #2 GULF OF ALASKA, and now he’ll get three more kilos given the presence of the Northern Hemisphere 2YOs in this spot. We didn’t like him initially last time, but Stephen Molyneux from Timeform was quite keen on his chances and it made sense. He’s in with a shot, no doubt, but our top choice reigns. #8 SHAISHEE is intriguing off four second place finishes in the UK, one on all-weather, and now gets a try at Meydan.
1st – #5 PUZZLEMAKER, 2nd – #8 SHAISHEE, 3rd – #6 BRAVO YOUMZAIN
Race 3 – Expo 2020 Handicap (Rated 65-80, 85-100 NH 2YO), 1,600m – Tapeta
This is an incredibly diverse handicap with no real standout opinion from us.
#12 ETIJAAH is fascinating as a son of Daaher out of a mare who also dropped the useful Najjaar, who performed OK on all-weather in the US, and is placed on grass. He might go close in a field that lacks much in the way of early pace.
#13 PENNISTON LINE is drawn widest and has run forward in the past, but that was against an abysmal field at Dundalk on the all-weather, site of his only career score. He’s well-handicapped here and in with a chance, but isn’t almost this entire field?
We’re going with #14 TAMARRUD to back up with another victory. He remains well-weighted even against a better field and showed his like of the local surface after a previous all-weather win in the UK.
1st – #14 TAMARRUD, 2nd – #12 ETIJAAH, 3rd – #5 KARMA CHAMELEON
Race 4 – Expo 2020 Handicap (Rated 75-90, BM 95, 90-105 NH 2YO), 1,200m, Tapeta
At the end of the day, this is a big ask for #3 INNOCUOUS to bounce back and do it off 61 kilograms, which was probably only slightly to his undoing two starts ago (when off a brutally wide trip). He weaved through and was a much the best winner despite the narrow margin last out and second home Spin Cycle is a quality form line. Still, the competition doesn’t impress here and it leaves us to no other significant choice.
1st – #3 INNOCUOUS, 2nd – #4 BRAZEN, 3rd – #5 FOREVERTHEOPTIMIST
Race 5 – Expo 2020 Handicap (Rated 82-96, BM 100), 1,400m, Tapeta
This is far from a straight-forward handicap. The form has to start with #11 COMICALITY, an easy winner in his career debut at Meydan on opening night of the season. Clearly, this 5-year-old has had some issues, taking that long to debut. The margin and immediate success on the Tapeta are likely to draw attention, but look a bit deeper at the maiden field he beat – which since that race was run have managed a lifetime mark of one win from 97 starts, the win coming from Bravo Ragazzo after his seventh placing behind Comicality. Meanwhile, this field of eleven rivals has 38 lifetime wins from 245 starts. After taking as long to get to the races as Comicality did, can we really expect to run back to that performance with a winning effort? Have to look elsewhere.
#2 CANWINN put in a solid run when nearly beating well-regarded Haatheq two weeks back and was beaten just four lengths in a Carnival handicap last season. But in this benchmark-rated handicap, he’s saddled with 61 kilograms over a distance that seems short of his best by at least 200 metres. This guy has also needed quite a few runs to get into the swing of things before finding his best season stride of late, so have to pass.
#7 MAATH GOOL has some decent back form on the all-weather, most notably his fast-closing third behind Dubai Iconic last season. He won first-up at Abu Dhabi, repeating the task from a season ago, and the second-placer in that spot, Funon, came back to win carrying 60 kilos at Jebel Ali last week. The third and fifth place finishers have both run back from Maath Gool’s seasonal debut, recording solid placings. The wide draw is only a mild concern. To his inside is #6 ALNASHMY, who has enough back-form at Meydan to make him a threat. His most recent efforts have not been his best, but a race similar to his close finish behind Discoverer last season at Meydan put him in the mix.
#12 JAMHOORI might only be a one-time winner, but off a low weight and a good draw, he’s well within the range of possible here. Granted, he had a fairly good ground-saving trip last time.
Many of the top weights all have concerns, so you have to go in a different direction.
1st – #7 MAATH GOOL, 2nd – #11 COMICALITY, 3rd – #6 ALNASHMY
Race 6 – Expo 2020 Handicap (Rated 82-96, BM 100), 1,900m, Tapeta
We have to side with #9 REPRESENTATION in this spot. He has a better draw and should land a better trip than he’s had in two races this season, the last of which he covered 12 metres more than winner #5 ANTINORI. The weight spread between the two isn’t as great as it was last time out, but the trip can surely make up for that. There seems to be some decent early pace likely here with the presence of #2 SWINGING SIXTIES and #4 REBEL SONG.
#10 AMAAN interests off a ridiculously light weight in this field. Rebel Song, for example, is giving 17 pounds to this son of Nayef who did improve last out after listless running first up at Abu Dhabi. He could show speed from an inside draw. The gap with the top weight is 26 pounds.
1st – #9 REPRESENTATION, 2nd – #10 AMAAN, 3rd – #5 ANTINORI
2013-2014 UAE season-to-date: 72 selections – 22 first, 10 second, 10 third (30% win, 58% top 3)