More than just about any time we can remember, a slew of losing horses from a Carnival meeting were really quite impressive in their defeats, and give us reason to think that they are well worth following as the season progresses. In the interim, here’s What we learned from the second night of the 2014 Dubai World Cup Carnival…
1. Pace still makes the race. If that isn’t clear, we don’t know what is. Energizer runs off in the fourth race and they swamped him as a result. Sheikhzayedroad gets through on the rail, rallying from out of the clouds to win, while Aussie Reigns found repeated trouble in the stretch and was a handy second. The win as a rare one so far this stand for a European trainee, just the first, and it went to David Simcock, earning his fifth win in the Emirates. Sheikhzayedroad is by Dubawi. All replays from the night are posted below the blog.
The most impressive, though, was Tha’ir, as this Godolphin runner was in closest attendance to the pace and stayed on for a highly credible fourth. And while we’re at it, Energizer sticking around for sixth was no sham either.
2. How fun are the all-weather sprinters? Goodness. As we suggested in our analysis, United Color was spot-on for this race off a good second when first-up at Jebel Ali against Muarrab. Sure enough, United Color was our first decent priced winner of the Carnival, and he did it off a wide trip and even maybe hitting the front too soon. The son of Ghostzapper was bred in America by Adena Springs, and was a rare Carnival stakes win for his long-time UAE-based trainer Dhruba Selvaratnam. This is a wildly competitive group and you have to think many will come on for the run, including defending Golden Shaheen winner Reynaldothewizard. There is just NO WAY this horse was 100% (jockey Richard Mullen confirmed it for us), and look back to last season – he was beaten more than six lengths on his seasonal debut. How much was he beaten on Thursday…about six lengths.
3. We saw some very credible efforts from the new South African imports – Magrooma stepped up in a big way in the 1,000 Guineas Trial, while Full Combat flashed home late in the 2,000 Guineas Trial. Lehaaf was sent off a mindboggling favourite on the commingled tote and still ran a dandy in the last race. These horses have more of a way to go, but all ran with legitimacy for their first significant work since at least July. We will see more of them making their seasonal debut next week. Wedding Ring (below) was gutsy to run down Magrooma as she did, showing that those last two races from the UK were as they appeared on paper.
4. Validus was a disappointment to us, racing much too close to the breakneck pace in the last race, where Zain Shamardal and Alnashmy got drawn into the race. The latter had traffic like nobody’s business – a brutal run through the lane which was at least rewarded with a near miss second. Zain Shamardal (below) covered ground and ran on, providing the ever-growing Royal Cavalry of Oman with their first Carnival success – much deserved. A clear word of caution – horses who were close to the ridiculously fast pace set by the hopeless Storm Ultralight got cooked, and could easily improve with a more temperate setup. Regulation and Start Right fit that measure.
5. Sadeek’s Song served as a grand pacemaker, setting up Cat O’Mountain to run on with the greatest of ease in the opening race. The first 1200 metres of this race were run almost 2.5 seconds quicker than standard, and despite being just 1 ¼ lengths off the lead at that point, Spanish-import Abdel stayed-on for fourth. When it looked like he was ready to spit the bit, the guy kept going, much to our surprise. While the winner was so very impressive, there is little doubt in our mind Abdel could shock at a fairly solid price later in the Carnival, and maybe over a shorter trip. Back to the winner, though – the handicapper has put him up to a rating of 113, which might just be pushing him into stakes company.
6. Letterfromamerica was our pick to run third in the UAE 1,000 Guineas Trial and the daughter of Ghostzapper did just that at 26-1 on the international tote. She made a ton of sense to us considering she was pace, got the blinkers back, and is out of a stallion whose progeny have excelled on this type of surface. While jockey Tadhg O’Shea wasn’t as confident in our pre-race discussion with him, she stayed on remarkably well, and when challenged late, repelled the challengers. With the breeding, she stands to improve over some more ground. Fourth home More Aspen wasn’t shabby either. It was a solid effort in our mind and should make this girl competitive going forward.
7. Speaking of another eye-catcher out of the Guineas Trials, go to the male version and watch back the run of My Catch. Pat Dobbs is being suspended a few days for the ride to get him in the clear early, but goodness was he game staying on through the strong early tempo. Figure of Speech figures to be one to consider strongly next time – saddled with the debilitating draw in 14, covering all sorts of extra ground. Safety Check did just that in the backstretch when his stable companion, and the eventual winner, had him in a tight spot. Safety Check broke on top and was wrangled back, rerallying late in what was a game effort.