Below is our slightly abbreviated analysis of Saturday’s meeting at Meydan. With the Carnival meeting on Thursday taking plenty of time, we offer a more truncated process for Thursday.
Race 1 – Hayat 95.6 Maiden – 1,900 metres – Tapeta
This is possibly one of the easiest picks of the year, although it might not turn out that way. #16 SOOTH AL SSALAM seems incredibly well suited to win in this spot. First, the fourth and fifth placers behind him both came back to win. Both of those rivals covered extra ground, but neither were as wide as this son of Henrythenavigator, who covered 27 metres more than the ground-saving Tarbawi. Third off the layoff, this is the one for us.
#13 DRESS DOWN gets a wider drawn than his two starts thus far, and he’s hardly been disgraced in those efforts. #6 LAKE HAWK was just about as wide as Sooth Al Ssalam last time and while he’s a bit more exposed locally, has a chance to improve if a better trip. A slight weight break with the apprentice claim cannot hurt his chances here.
1st – #16 SOOTH AL SSALAM, 2nd – #13 DRESS DOWN, 3rd – #6 LAKE HAWK
Race 2 – Wheels Handicap (Rated NH 4YO+, SH 3YO 60-70 BM 75, NH 3YO Rated 75-90) – 1,600 metres – Tapeta
On paper, this race seems to have a load of early speed, led by #5 TOUCH GOLD. A slew of runners in here have a penchant for going forward, and it seems within the realm of the possible that the pace backs up. How about #6 COUNT PARIS? He hangs around in this company and comes closing late. His outside draw should help him settle well off the pace, and Jesus Rosales should sit patient from there on out. #3 KARMA CHAMELEON is another who could benefit from a hot pace, especially coming off some slow two-turn races. The presence of apprentice Marc Monaghan can benefit him with the weight break. Last time out, off a wide draw, he covered 20 metres more than winner Paschendale.
1st – #3 KARMA CHAMELEON, 2nd – #6 COUNT PARIS, 3rd – #4 MUTUAL FORCE
Race 3 – GulfNews.com Handicap (Rated 85-95 BM 99) – 1,200 metres – Turf
We tipped #1 ROICEAD to win at the Carnival, and he was moving faster than all bar the winner in that race when fourth beaten two. With another good tempo likely, there is absolutely no reason to get off him now. #3 RED DUKE should find this a bit too sharp, potentially, but he’s getting a massive break in class, and much needed too, after three consecutive last placings. There should be no reason to think that #5 KILT ROCK isn’t benefitted by a return to grass, a welcome change of scenery. We hope he runs a big one as he’s a personal favourite.
With two seasonal runs and the claimer aboard, #13 VOCATIONAL is due for a good one. Four of her five lifetime placings, including both wins, came on grass (and granted, in 2011). But there were signs of life last time out up the hill, and some improvement to grab a slice at a mammoth price is not out of the question.
1st – #1 ROICEAD, 2nd – #3 RED DUKE, 3rd – #5 KILT ROCK
Race 4 – Aquarius Handicap (Rated NH 4YO+, SH 3YO 75-85 BM 90, NH 3YO 90-100) – 1,400 metres – Tapeta
The maiden win for #13 DESERT WINGS looked as impressive as it seemed on paper, an eight length procession. The second placer from that race came back to win his maiden next out at Kempton by almost four lengths (and if you want to get crazy, that second-placer has since come back to win), and recorded another win and a second in two subsequent all-weather starts. It’s form franking all around and he is very well handicapped in this spot. There should be no surprise the Raven’s Pass gelding has had success on the all-weather. Good draw, will race with prominence. Yes.
#3 MUNDAHESH might sit in the second flight here and progress from there, which could be enough for him to win. #8 COLOUR GUARD ran incredibly wide last time, covering 13 metres more than winner Ghaamer. Unfortunately, he is drawn in 14 and while he’d run on from the back, will he get the trip needed. He’s a liability to pick on top, but if he saves ground, he seems right in the mix.
1st – #13 DESERT WINGS, 2nd – #3 MUNDAHESH, 3rd – #8 COLOUR GUARD
Race 5 – Gulf News Handicap (Rated 85-95 BM 99) – 1,600 metres – Turf
It’s far from an ideal draw for #1 SPECIFIC GRAVITY, but we think he’s the best in this race. Toss aside the last race, won in a ridiculous hold-up pace, back on grass, where he was competitive in this lot last year, he seems poised for a big second-up run. With a prep run under his belt early in the season, #8 JAWHAR seems a good fit to be in the mix amongst this level again. The trip might seem too short for him, but you could argue his win over 2,000 last year was desperate in this type of company. #3 FAMOUS POET might need the run, but he is appropriately spotted here as he looks to land back in the enclosure for the first time since 2012.
1st – #1 SPECIFIC GRAVITY, 2nd – #8 JAWHAR, 3rd – #3 FAMOUS POET
Race 6 – Friday Handicap (Rated 75-85, BM 90) – 1,900 metres – Tapeta
#5 ALMOONQITH emerged a winner on debut, over all-weather at Chantilly, and recorded two other seconds in decent fields at Deauville in his only season on course. That form might be good enough if this bunch. His July win over Panama was well-franked as all around him have gone to capture a few races since. The pace in this race should be fair with the likes of #9 WATHEEQ, #3 MANTOBA, and potentially #8 HOLD THE LINE. #10 SOMALIAN was closing fastest last time out, and showed the Tapeta was to his liking. This extra 300 metres over the last trip is also encouraging and should get him in the mix.
1st – #10 SOMALIAN, 2nd – #5 ALMOONQITH, 3rd – #9 WATHEEQ
UAE season-to-date – 151 races – 41 1st, 21 2nd, 14 third (27% win, 50% top 3)