Thursday was a revelation at the Dubai World Cup Carnival. Here are some of our non-sequential thoughts on the night, plus the typical range of great pictures from our photographer Cedric Lane. Any interest in buying these clean photographs, reach out to Cedric at UAERacingPictures@gmail.com.
- We ended up with a mixed bag of performance from a pace standpoint. There was a thought that the races might be more truly run after the nine days of suspensions shoveled to four jockeys (combined) from last week. Realistically, it didn’t happen.
- Hunter’s Light was wildly impressive in winning. Initially, it looked like a race with slow event and a horse who was better than everyone else and stayed on. Saint Baudolino looked like a legitimate closer into a slow pace. Realistically, however, Hunter’s Light was going fastest. The Trakus Report captures this well. For other races at 1,900 meters at Meydan dating to November 2010, this edition of the Maktoum Challenge Round 2 was among the slowest eight percent.
However, these top quality horses quickened as you would expect, and the race finished very fast. Hold up these good horses enough and they will uncork some wicked speed. It is worth wondering what the result would have been if Prince Bishop, who as best we can tell has NEVER EVER made the running in his career, wasn’t defaulted to the lead. Watch the Maktoum Challenge – Round 2 (G2) below.
- In The Spotlight is exposed at this point. She had a run behind very soft early pace and couldn’t sustain it. While some would suggest she needed the run, Star Empire, Ahzeemah, and Certerach all had excuses to be brought into the races they ran first-up. A very slow tempo on Thursday seemed to set-up for her yet again and she could not find enough to stay. The data from that first race, via Trakus, had Star Empire and Ahzeemah running some big races, and they both showed again. Another great job from Team deKock getting Star Empire ready second-up off a 23-month respite.
- Elleval, where did that come from? When you hear jockey Fergal Lynch cite that it was tough to find firm ground in Ireland this summer, that doesn’t equate to running down the entire field with a low 22-second final 400-meter run. He galloped out like a champion, too. Cheers to trainer David Marnane, one of our favourites to keep bringing horses to the Carnival and giving it a shot. No matter how you look at it, the performance of this horse was surprising, but exciting going forward.
- We thought a new shooter was due for the UAE 1,000 Guineas and gave the edge to Emotif over Lovely Pass, but got it wrong. Lovely Pass had been better than Music Chart in September, and it stayed that way. The bettors got this one really wrong. Music Chart and Shuruq were well-backed throughout, and Lovely Pass patently ignored, somewhere between 7-1 and 9-1 on the US and UK markets.
Ahmed Ajtebi rode Lovely Pass and wore the red cap, what is regularly viewed as third string for Godolphin. But this is where a better understanding of how Godolphin assigns jockeys comes into play. The origin of the jockey bookings is based in what happened last September – Lovely Pass won with Ajtebi. Godolphin has indicated they aren’t inclined to break up winning partnerships. However, DeSousa and Barzalona are the top jocks for the yard, yielding them blue and white caps, not to mention their recent one-two success in the Guineas Trial. We feel most looked at it and thought Lovely Pass was third string, but ignored the common form line they shared. Watch the 1,000 Guineas below.
- Godolphin has won 11 of 30 races at the Carnival so far, and been favoured in sixteen of those 30 races. Interestingly, only four of the sixteen favourites have won. The public is generally focusing on the wrong Godolphin horses, and Lovely Pass was a perfect example.
- Royal Ridge became the second horse of the Carnival to win off a placing at Jebel Ali, and gave Mike de Kock a treble. Through the first half of the Carnival, de Kock has six wins and five placings from 34 starters so far. DeKock is tied with Saeed bin Suroor and Mahmood Al Zarooni with six wins apiece.
- We chased Ottoman Empire enough, it was great to get him on top, even if the price wasn’t as high as we’d have liked. He sat behind a crawl last time and was wide, but raced forward on the rail and did it well. The Trakus data is invaluable in quantifying those trips.
- Next week at the Carnival, the Al Shindagha (G3), Firebreak (G3), and UAE 2,000 Guineas (G3) grace the race card. It should be a stellar night.