So what did we learn from the seventh meeting of the 2014 Dubai World Cup Carnival?
Here we go…
- Certify didn’t want to go into the gate. She did, eventually, and then seemed to over-race behind a slow pace. She never landed a blow, nor did she look like she was it was going to happen once they got inside the final 600 metres.
- All credit to L’Amour De Ma Vie and her ecstatic connections. Clearly, this is a filly who has improved, contrary to our prognostication. The ever-so-slight question about Certify’s winning margin from the Cape Verdi was nullified by the way in which she won, with little visual effort. Trainer Charlie Appleby supported that position, stating they really did not tinker with her at home. Was she undercooked here? In season? The vet report indicated no abnormalities were visible.
- What we do know is that the race was run slow to standard. The first 800 metres standard time is :50.51, and Banoffee brought them through it in :51.78, the margin of slowness increasing to the 1,200-metre point-of-call. Overall, the race concluded just slightly slower than standard for the distance.
- Flotilla improved for the run, and did actually close into the pace. Speaking of pace…it surely was a very French-like pace, and the first two finishers have done most of their racing there. Hmmm…
- Credit horse and trainer all you want, but Fergal Lynch has had some absolutely superb rides at this year’s Carnival. He got Elleval in trouble last time when in a tight spot, and the son of Kodiak still ran-on to be 3.75 lengths behind Vercingetorix last out. The pace was hot when Samurai Sword (making NO sense) went to the front and was pressed by Steeler. He waited patiently, saved the ground, got the splits, and won.
- Back to Samurai Sword – here is a horse who in his previous four runs at Meydan has been in the following spots after the first 800 metres: 10th, 8th, 10th, and 15th. The field sizes in those races: 10, 8, 10, and 16. So, clearly, it made ALL sorts of sense that he would be leading through the first 800 metres of a 2,000-metre race, setting the pace in a time that was 1.21 seconds faster than standard. Absurd. Now, was it the equipment that did this? Perhaps. He added cheekpieces and it may have made him much too keen. Samurai Sword was competitively closing in his previous starts this season and the change of equipment might have impacted his style.
- Cat O’Mountain was interminably wide through the running, finishing tenth, beaten approximately five lengths. It wasn’t a terrible performance, but expected if you told us he’d cover 21 metres more than the winner. He made a slight run towards the front and simply flattened out.
- Hototo came back and couldn’t beat Ahtoug yet again, while Medicean Man did what we know is possible, winning another turf sprint. Catcall seemed short in the race, and a few others also flattened in a fairly bunched finish. Overall, who won? Alsaaeqah and Beat Baby stayed in their boxes for this heat, and presumably, are aimed at the Meydan Sprint, where they might get the pleasure of seeing Shea Shea defend his title.
- Turf sprints are still racing’s ultimate roll of the dice.
- Eastern Rules franked some form, but mostly that of his trainer, who has been on fire of late. Mick Halford as 1-for-39 in his UAE career before this season, and is now a combined 4-from-15 since. Granted, he had seven seconds in those 39 starts, but it’s about time he turned it around. Persistence pays off.
- The second-placing of Sommerabend was an improvement we expected from Thursday’s opening event. This colt was much too close to the hot pace in Alexandra Palace’s win and just couldn’t hack it. Back on grass, and with a more temperate tempo, he nearly won.
- If you had the Norwegian/Bahraini exacta, congrats – as Van Rooney ran on well but could not catch the in-form Avon Pearl. Ocean Tempest improved leaps and bounds to be third. Horses drawn in the first three stalls finished in the top three, and hard-luck stories from the more fancied runners were aplenty. Qatoomah really encouraged with her seven off a draw in 16. From there, she covered 16 metres more than Avon Pearl, about enough to make up for her margin of defeat. Mustaheel and our top pick Intrigo suffered similar fates. String Theory and Taylor Said proved to be a bit too close to the speed, and both backed up to run 13th/14th.
- Tasaday was deserving of her Dubai Millennium Stakes win. Empoli ran on very well considering his antics from a week back, and probably could’ve had a say in that 2,400m+ race where he was scratched because of them. Mujaarib was listless for most of the race, with Paul Hanagan pushing his mount along with 1,100 metres to run. It was disconcerting, but he finally kicked-it-in after looking hopeless for a while. Something about Mujaarib really leads us to think he might get over the Tapeta well, maybe we’re crazy, but it’s a gut feeling.
- Don’t forget, next week sees two nights at the Carnival – Thursday and Saturday. The first night features the Meydan Classic and UAE Oaks, while Saturday brings us the stayers in the last Dubai Gold Cup prep, the Nad Al Sheba Trophy.
L’Amour De Ma Vie