It was a frenetic night of racing in Dubai for the fourth night of the 2014 Dubai World Cup Carnival. Race replays from all six races are at the bottom of the blog, with winners’ pictures inserted throughout the story, of course provided by Cedric Lane from UAE Racing Photography. Here are some non-consecutive thoughts on what we learned.
- Certify. Wow. According to Trakus, Certify ran her final 1,200 metres in 1:08.24. Granted, the early pace was slow in the Cape Verdi, and the first three finishers came quicker than 1:09, but still. It was the way she did it, easily, fluid, impressive. Could she go like Sajjhaa did last year? No reason why not.
- Is there any cause for concern that the longest priced runner in the field, L’Amour De Ma Vie ran a blinder for second? We’re going to lean on “no” for that one. She traveled well for a long way, and really ran a career best, but was fully extended against an explosive filly.
- Mushreq was drawn on the rail and it might have been just the difference in the Al Rashidiya, but take nothing away from Mujaarib. Whoever was backing Mujaarib on the tote had plenty of more confidence in his chances than the team at the yard, who rightfully expect these South African imports to improve for the run. Granted, The Apache won this race first-up last year before recording some very decent placing the rest of the season. Still, did anyone else think Mujaarib was going to pop with a 22.1 sectional to propel from near last to first in 400 metres? What a tremendous run covering extra ground to do it, too.
- Mujaarib was 5-1 on the tote, which primarily takes money from North American markets, while he was a best-priced 33-1 with the books, and even higher on the exchanges. 5-1, eh? Enjoy the win.
- We were all over Alraihjan last week, a Saudi import who looked like the fastest horse in the 1,200-metre sprint. Then he missed the kick, traveled wide, and ran on, but never near Jamesie. This week, a daughter of dirt-loving Dynever (himself second in the 2005 Dubai World Cup), sent off in excess of 40-1 on the tote, beat another 40-1 shot in one of the more unlikely finishes anyone could project. Alsaaeqah had been a very successful dirt sprinter in Saudi Arabia, but this win was different class, just getting up. Her trainer Bader Al Shibani has trained more than 400 winners in Saudi from in excess of 2,400 starters
- Props to Ottoman Empire for yet another Carnival win. We tipped him second and really thought Clon Brulee would get a better run, with more pace to run into. Unfortunately, the pace battle that seemed likely on paper did not develop, and the race was run slower than projected. String Theory had plenty of excuses off the wide trip, as did Intrigo, Abdel, and others. It’s tough to see Ottoman Empire winning outside of a similar circumstance. Those who watched the preview video and followed along with the AmWager Bankroll Challenge were well-rewarded on the tote market, as getting the first three home yielded a near $190 tally.
- Back to the de Kock runners, Zahee has shown to really grow well in the offseason. Not enough has been said about the phenomenal work of de Kock assistant Trevor Brown, who spends the year in Dubai and works with all of those horses that remain there through the summer. So far this season, Anaerobio, Mushreq, and now Zahee have recorded four wins for the yard, all three having remained in Dubai through the off-season. It’s been remarkable work to get them to peak fitness, especially for Anaerobio who found Group-level glory, and Zahee who was a hard-knocker, but kept missing last season.
- Tamarkuz was a bit disappointing running fifth behind Zahee, while Gold City provided a bit of a shock to run a very quality second. Satish Seemar had a strong night with the Ottoman Empire win and Gold City’s second, but Tamarkuz was shuffled on the rail after a slow start and just really never got involved.
- We tipped the last race as Haafaguinea over Saxo Jack, the latter covered more ground and had a one kilogram weight break, and somewhere along the line, it mattered. Saxo Jack was rushed into contention in his first local start, and as we wrote in our analysis, hit the front too soon. More patiently ridden in this spot, he was definitely going better than Haafaguinea with 500 to go and just held on, as Haafaguinea seemed resolute. That being said, Haafaguinea seemed to get a bit of a premature early move into the race. He was roughly eleventh through the first few furlongs and rushed up to race around sixth, passing Saxo Jack, who then got the better of him later. It wasn’t Silvestre De Sousa’s smoothest ride in Dubai, but Haafaguinea showed us enough to think he’s eligible to back up with a winning performance. Burano and Busker both ran well in this heat, and Aussie Reigns proved to us that was indeed drawn into the ridiculous pace set by Energizer on the second night of the Carnival.
- Mike de Kock now leads all trainers at the Carnival with six wins and five placings with Charlie Appleby next with five and Saeed bin Suroor with four. In the riding premiership, Mickael Barzalona leads with six wins from Christophe Soumillon’s five and Silvestre De Sousa’s three. No trainer or jockey has more than one win aside from those mentioned.
- Next week, the UAE 1,000 Guineas (G3) joins the Maktoum Challenge – Round 2 (G2) as the features, along with the open 3-year-old class in the Meydan Classic Trial.