The second night of the 2014-2015 season at Meydan is upon us, a six-race fixture headlined by an 85-100-rated handicap. Trainer Doug Watson looks to be in with a massive chance in many of the spots, and his runners feature prominently in our analysis. Good luck and enjoy!
Race 1 – AED 90,000 Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Maiden – 1,600 metres – dirt
#4 MUTAHADDITH ran pretty well first time out considering he was a handful in the barrier prior to the start. Our concern is that the unexpected win from Marhi, who had been 0-from-8 with just one placing, which came first-up a year prior, does not flatter his placing. It was seemingly a lacklustre group, although fifth-placer Saalib did come back to win two starts later at Sharjah. We aren’t willing to put all our eggs in his bucket this time.
The race seems to come down to #14 YEAR OF GLORY and #12 STATE LAW, drawn next to each other in gates four and five, respectively. Both showed prominence here when second and third to Cross Grain on opening night of the Meydan season. This race is 200 metres more than their last try over 1,400, and as such, State Law seems the one likelier to move forward. He was first off a thirteen month break and was truly staying-on at the end of the last run, galloping out well past Year of Glory.
There is a chance that #5 BEACHY HEAD could run. His dam is a full sister to Dubai World Cup winner Dubai Millennium, and out of four-time Group 1 winner Shamardal. It’s worth noting that Shamardal’s worst career performance came in his only start on dirt, when beaten 46 lengths in the UAE Derby. Apprentice Saeed Al Mazrouei takes off three kilos, which can likely only help this late developing first-timer, who has probably had some issues that makes us want to see a race first.
#11 SILVER PIVOTAL is a half to Group 1 winner G Force, and being by Galileo seems to have sides of the distance spectrum in his pedigree. Dirt is the question. It’s worth noting Silvestre De Sousa is now a seasonally-retained rider for trainer Musabah Al Muhairi.
1st – #12 STATE LAW, 2nd – #14 YEAR OF GLORY, 3rd – #4 MUTAHADDITH
Race 2 – AED 115,000 Dubai Duty Free Full of Surprises Handicap – 2,000 metres – dirt
If our prognosticating is right, it looks like it could be a Doug Watson early double as #1 HENRY CLAY gets the call. He goes to the front and tries to dictate the tempo, which he did well when stablemate Storm Belt won here on opening night. There are a few other pace attendees likely, especially the low-weighted #7 WATHEEQ, who is very well handicapped and has back form on the dirt (granted, well beaten by Henry Clay two back).
The question mark in the race is #4 RESPECT ME, who was heavily respected by the handicapper when put up ten pounds for his dominance at Al Ain two weeks back. If either Mountain Lion or Shagran run really well in the first race maiden, maybe this guy moves up a bit, but Henry Clay’s performance behind Storm Belt just dominates this field on paper.
Both #2 PISCO SOUR and #3 IZAAJ ran well behind Storm Belt last time, and there is no reason to think they won’t again.
1st – #1 HENRY CLAY, 2nd – #2 PISCO SOUR, 3rd – #3 IZAAJ
Race 3 – AED 90,000 Dubai Duty Free Millennium Millionaire Handicap (Rated 60-75) – 1,400 metres – dirt
This seems a fairly well-balanced group and #9 ETIJAAH well in the weights. The cutback from 1,600 to 1,400 seems obvious as he was coming to the end of it and just managed to hold second. It also appears there are plenty to go forward here, which allows the versatile running-style of Etijaah to sit and pounce.
Silvestre De Sousa opts to ride #1 DAMAR, a first-up winner on dirt last year, whom he piloted, and was otherwise dull when first-up this season. We don’t know what we’re getting with him. His other choice was #5 CANARY WHARF, who ends up with Pat Dobbs, reuniting a winning team from last season. It was a long time between wins for the son of Danehill Dancer, and he does have one tally first up well back in the form.
That breeding on #10 STAGEMANSHIP stands out, out of the really good turf filly Vacare. Her dam was a winner on dirt in low ranks, but all of her progeny’s main success has come on grass. Damsire Lear Fan was a turfer, through and through. Still, this gelding just gives us an unprovable feeling he could be OK, and was a winner first-up. There is plenty of growing to do in the handicaps, is off a long layoff, and suffers from a wide draw – so we aren’t jumping to tip him up, but wouldn’t be shocked with a decent run.
1st – #9 ETIJAAH, 2nd – #5 CANARY WHARF, 3rd – #1 DAMAR
Race 4 – AED 110,000 Dubai Duty Free & Jumeirah Creekside Hotel Handicap (Rated 75-90) – 1,200 metres – dirt
#7 ART WAVE wins last time, in all likelihood, if keeping a straight course coming up the hill at Jebel Ali. Apprentice jockey George Buckell was reprimanded for maintaining use of the whip as Art Wave went all over the place in the final stages. Now, he’s on the cutback, gets Silvestre De Sousa, goes around a bend again and is second-up. He won second-off the ship last year when at Jebel Ali. There is much going in his favour, but it’s a horse race, and anything can happen.
#4 MURBEH is winless since two tallies started his career in 2010 at Newbury and Ripon, but gosh he is getting some class relief. With the handicaps topped at 90 for this spot, Murbeh is in the “easiest” race he’s had in a LONG time. When here two seasons back, the son of Elusive City was a close second to Kaiss over Meydan’s 1,200 metres, and his second behind Kilt Rock at Jebel Ali in 2013 is enough to be involved here too. On the international markets, the price should be right.
#11 PRICE IS TRUTH broke an 0-12 streak in a big way last time at Sharjah down the straight and now swings back to Meydan where the waters are deeper.
1st – #7 ART WAVE, 2nd – #4 MURBEH, 3rd – #11 PRICE IS TRUTH
Race 5 – AED 130,000 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships Handicap (Rated 85-100) – 1,600 metres – dirt
#3 SHAMAAL NIBRAS would have been closer to Shaishee last time over a longer trip, but got a bit too far back as the pace was fairly swift when five runners who shared common ownership went at it. There are a few pace interests here yet again, but nothing too fiery. He doesn’t need to improve much to get the job done.
#4 NEED TO KNOW makes plenty of sense, wining first up and easily at Jebel Ali, now gets a drop in weight in a higher handicap. Both the second and fifth placers from that race came back to win, with Mawhub running an easy race off top weight in a lower-rated handicap two weeks later at Jebel Ali and Royal Revival just up in an Abu Dhabi turf handicap. A big threat.
#7 LE BERNARDIN is an American dirt runner who clearly has had a slew of issues. A winner in Grade 3 company at Monmouth, there should be no surprise if he takes to the surface – but he just might have a bit too much to overcome otherwise.
#2 SEFRI is an intriguing option for trainer Erwan Charpy. His dam, Taseel, is out of the Alabaq, who dropped Aamaaq, a multiple dirt handicap winner in the UAE at both Nad Al Sheba and Jebel Ali. He’s getting some class relief and intrigues, especially as he seems likely to be ignored in the markets. This guy is definitely a value play.
1st – #3 SHIMAAL NIBRAS, 2nd – #4 NEED TO KNOW, 3rd – #2 SEFRI
Race 6 – AED 100,000 Dubai Duty Free Golf World Cup Handicap (Rated 80-95) – 1,600 metres – dirt
The last race of the night is a tough early test of good local form on the dirt. #3 MUHTARAM was a convincing winner, and we tipped the second from that race, Etijaah, earlier on the card. #1 CENTRIFUGAL was tagged right on the line by Street Act on opening night, with #2 MORE ASPEN running on when wide throughout last time. All three make perfect sense.
#6 GRILLETTO could be on the improve in his second season locally. Off top weight last time, the son of dirt sprinter Exchange Rate now gets a five kilo drop off his last start. His dam Casuarina was a winner on dirt, all-weather, and grass, and it’s possible this gelding could just be due improve. It’s worth noting he finished almost seven lengths ahead of Muhtaram when they last met at Jebel Ali (and legitimate first-up performance) on level weights and now Grilletto is getting plenty from him.
1st – #6 GRILLETTO, 2nd – #2 MORE ASPEN, 3rd – #3 MUHTARAM