So what did we learn from the third night of the 2014 Dubai World Cup Carnival?
As was echoed during the Dubai Racing Channel broadcast, while they may have been celebrating the Chinese New Year at Meydan, the horse connections lounge was partying like it was St. Patrick’s Day after the first two races. David Marnane remains a great example of Carnival consistency, with horses from his yard earning a win in every season at Meydan. Jamesie was a consistent bridesmaid on the all-weather, but as you read in the Dubai Racing Comprehensive, Marnane believed Jamesie (below) might be the best suited for the Carnival conditions. More in a moment on this race.
Credit Shane Foley for patience as he brought Certerach (below) home a winner in the second event. Trainer Mick Halford was 1-from-52 with fifteen placings (Invincible Ash being the lone tally) while Foley was 0-from-54 in the UAE. But Certerach, just 1 ¼ lengths away from being a three-time winner at last year’s Carnival, finally got the splits for a nice win. The big watcher out of this race is Restraint of Trade, who had some faulty equipment yielding a host of issues in running. Under the slightest of urging from Mickael Barzalona, Restraint of Trade advanced through the stragglers like a hot knife through butter and brought the harrowing ride to a conclusion in tenth. The Irish one-two to open the night was welcome for International Stables runners, limited to just one success from the first two nights.
Back to the first race – everything changed when Alraihjan failed to jump on terms with the rest of the field, prompting this correspondent to mutter with despondence. He ran on well enough to make us believe he can absolutely get over the surface, covering a load of extra ground. I don’t think many expected Merhee to make the running, but his first-up run was quite credible. Masamah might be the one out of this race off a wide trip.
The reduced trip of this year’s Al Fahidi Fort (G2) was ideal for Anaerobio (below), and a curse for Frankie Dettori, who was likely staring down a win on Mshawish if the race was run over it’s old 1,600-metre distance. The first three home were plum to the rail almost the entire trip and it was indeed the quickest way around. Iguazu Falls ran on well with extra-ground a culprit for him, as was Kavanagh’s fifth. One shouldn’t get too concerned with Heavy Metal’s tenth placing as the race was surely just a leg-stretcher for bigger prizes down the way. On paper, the 13th placing for Gale Force Ten was a bit discouraging.
We posited that Anaerobio’s performances have been somewhat revelational, only to be reminded of his Grade 1 wins on dirt and turf in his native Argentina. Those were, however, a long time ago, and his handicap ways in the UAE since didn’t lead you to easily figure he’d be sent postward the commingled tote favourite in a $250,000 Group 2 – but he did. Mike de Kock is now tied with Charlie Appleby with four wins each at the Carnival. Saeed bin Suroor is second with three.
How do you interpret the fourth race result? Plantagenet went much too soon. Layali Al Andalus had a reverse trip from his wide ways in that opening Carnival encounter, but proved he was competitive again with the run. Mutajare showed his versatility. Meanwhile, Windhoek (below) traveled wide and without cover for most of the journey, at least on the turns, and fought on with tremendous resolve (but again, only to beat Layali Al Andalus and Mutajare). Was Windhoek the 6-7 lengths better than those two as his ground coverage statistics indicate? Tough call.
Alexandra Palace (below, far left), destined for Singapore after the 2014 Carnival, showed the layoff was no problem, serving as the first of the South Africa quarantined runners to win first-up. Last year, two runners managed the feat (The Apache, Soft Falling Rain). It was devastating as our pick, Disa Leader, ran a bang-up race and lost third by a slim nose. Still, he was gallant and his Mauritian connections on hand were encouraged. Capital Attraction ran a blinder to hang in for third after being in such a prominent early position with a fast pace. Needless to say, Alexandra Palace was 15th after the first 400 meters, for which the leader clocked just 0.01 seconds off the fastest split in the history of Meydan at the distance.
Next week, the Al Rashidiya (G2) and Cape Verdi (G2) take the leading lights.