Here is our truncated analysis for Saturday’s domestic meeting at Meydan, a wildly competitive six-race fixture which features arguably the best maiden race in the UAE in recent memory. It hasn’t hurt us from getting a bit crazy in our analysis of it either.
Race 1 – Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group Trophy Maiden – 1,400 metres – Tapeta
This is a fascinating maiden race. First, #9 ASMAR gets drawn out wide in 12 and is surely hoping for some semblance of a better trip than what he experienced in his career debut, when a flashing third after completely missing the break, then finishing just six lengths behind Waahy. The form held up a bit as Shaishee went on to win and run second in a handicap in two outings since.
#11 MOONFAARID scopes well here. The two horses behind him in that maiden at Newmarket went on for two wins and three seconds since the race, but he wasn’t as fluid at Kempton, beaten 2 ½ lengths by a horse who has yet to return. Still, this guy has a chance to move forward, especially getting a weight break.
#14 ANWAR DUBAI lost all chance last time in very tough company, gets a massive weight break against this bunch, and likely used that race as a chance to stretch her legs after the very tardy dispatch. Interestingly enough, off the Trakus data, she actually recorded the fastest individual 100-metre segment of the race when she was bustled along to catch-up with the field. She is very eligible to improve.
#1 BUSTOPHER was a close second on debut and hasn’t been seen since, more than nine months later. His breeding suggests he’ll run away from grass, and the third home in that maiden was String Theory, who was a very good second at Meydan on Thursday.
#3 ENNOBLED FRIEND is a half to a turf sprinting stakes winner in America and had two respectable performances at Kempton. On debut, when drawn in ten, traveled interminably wide and absolutely ran a winning race, then tracked the pace in his second start and showed just a bit short. The kinder draw and a cutback to 1,400 should make him more likeable in this spot. He wore Godolphin blue in the UK.
The outside draw might seem to be a detriment to Asmar, but it could help him settle a bit better, not to mention how he breaks. Still, we just aren’t certain if he was passing all that much at the end when he made his run late. Ennobled Friend could surely win, and improvement from Moonfaarid isn’t out of the realm. The weight break from Anwar Dubai is too much to ignore for us. She can get over this surface, had a decent stretch last time, is fairly well-drawn, and has a crack rider on board. Why not.
1st – #14 ANWAR DUBAI, 2nd – #11 MOONFAARID, 3rd – #1 BUSTOPHER
Race 2 – Al Naboodah Travel & Tourism Agencies Trophy Handicap – 2,000 metres – Tapeta
We could see just about anyone winning this, including #14 FA’IZ off the favourable handicap, and the apprentice allowance, where he’d get to carry 50.5 kilograms in this spot.
#3 REPRESENTATION was fairly close to a hot pace last time, which completely collapsed, and has run some decent races at Meydan. He’s not without chance, although likely to cover extra ground. #13 MUTUAL FORCE is another we’ve chased in the past, and of course, #12 KARMA CHAMELEON, who will finally not get our tip (might put him up top, as a result).
The pick, though, is #2 PRESS ROOM. There are obvious questions about is absence from racing, but his win at Lingfield last year was promptly franked repeatedly by the horse he ran down. It was essentially a two-horse affair given how far they broke clear, and that second home behind Press Room managed to win four of his next five races. There are a load of angles to consider with this field, but we’ll latch onto Press Room’s handy win against a horse who proved he was no push over.
1st – #2 PRESS ROOM, 2nd – #13 MUTUAL FORCE, 3rd – #3 REPRESENTATION
Race 3 – Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group Trophy Handicap – 1,800 metres – Turf
They sure burned on the front end last time when Jawhar saw it out and set a new course record in the process. #3 OASIS DANCER looked as if he may have even gotten his head in front, but came up just short. He bounces back in seemingly good order and has been knocking on the door a long while. You have to go back to his three-win streak in the beginning of 2012, some 16 starts ago, to find his last success, but some extra ground and the presence of more decent pace in here gives us enough confidence to think he might get it done.
You have to think #2 JALAA just got a good blow out of his work at Jebel Ali last time, as he deserves the chance to get back in the frame having faced some half decent company most recently. Paul Hanagan sided with #8 ALMOONQITH, but he’ll have to prove it to us in this spot. #9 GEORGETOWN and #11 ANTINORI both ran well behind Jawhar and Oasis Dancer last time, with Antinori covering six metres more than the winner.
1st – #3 OASIS DANCER, 2nd – #11 ANTINORI, 3rd – #2 JALAA
Race 4 – Swaidan Trading, Agriculture, & Pest Control Division Trophy Handicap – 1,200 metres – Tapeta
Another one where many stand a legitimate chance. The pace runners, #4 BRAZEN and #9 FESTIVAL CITY both seem to get on with the Tapeta well, and both will get some weight break with the apprentices riding each. #10 FROBISHER and the fairly consistent #7 LIGHT BURST are both drawn very wide and tough to back, while #6 HATTAASH seems to be getting a combination of a good draw a slight drop in class, and is a recent course and distance winner. We’re going to essentially end it there, bar noting that #11 NAJM SUHAIL is obviously back in against older horses, but out of the fire from the Guineas Trial. He’s a bit vexing here, but also has a wide draw to contend with.
1st – #6 HATTAASH, 2nd – #9 FESTIVAL CITY, 3rd – #10 FROBISHER
Race 5 – Swaidan Trading, Heavy Equipment Division Trophy Handicap – 1,400 metres – Turf
#2 CHASING HALOS was likely never going to get Roicead last time out, our top pick on that occasion, but he ran credibly. Ridden a bit more patiently over the calmer trip, and well drawn, he is impossible to ignore. The same can be said for #1 LUI REI, who ran well twice thus far at the Carnival and now makes his third start of the campaign in a spot that is less prestigious, but surely well within his range. Drawn out in 11 does not give us the greatest feeling, but we’ll ignore that.
#3 RED DUKE is saddled with a wide draw yet again, but you think this guy will turn around for the new connections at some point soon. He is tough to pick on top, but some improvement is likely.
It’s about class, and we think Lui Rei is the one who brings it most of all under top weight.
1st – #1 LUI REI, 2nd – #2 CHASING HALOS, 3rd – #3 RED DUKE
Race 6 – Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group Trophy Handicap – 1,600 metres – Tapeta
There is pace aplenty in this spot, so it has us looking for something to settle and come from the off the speed. Last time, when stretched over 1,900 metres, #11 SOMALIAN was much too close to a strong tempo. Back in for 1,600, and with plenty of other early hoof to go on with it, we expect Harry Bentley will sit a more patient trip in this bunch. The pace collapsed ridiculously in that 1,900m affair last time, so with that one under the belt, and now third off the long layoff, we’re back on Somalian.
#5 OSTAAD was even last time, but managed in open handicap company for the first time on all-weather, previously a winner and a second over such a surface in the UK. #4 JAMHOORI is saddled with the widest draw but has shown a new consistency this season that evaded him in the past. We aren’t quite sure what to do with #6 PUZZLEMAKER, who grabbed our attention when clearly racing immaturely on debut, and narrowly defeating Waahy, Shaishee, and Tarbawi, all eventual winners later in the season.
1st – #11 SOMALIAN, 2nd – #4 JAMHOORI 3rd – #6 PUZZLEMAKER
UAE season-to-date: 193 races – 49 first, 23 second, 16 third (25% win, 46% top 3)