Dubai Racing Carnival Analysis – Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017

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Dubai World Cupby Steven Molyneux

Meydan Overview

 It hasn’t been a great few days for Dubai. First, the weather has been more akin to that in England and then Donald Trump opened up a new golf course. Oh, and then there is the small matter of another couple of trainers receiving a year ban for the use of cobalt. More significant this time is that one of them is not far off the top of the tree. Mussabeh Al Mheiri has been responsible for 378 winners in the UAE, including a double on World Cup night last year courtesy of AF Mathmoon and Muarrab, with Sheikh Hamdan his main supporter.

There is no defending the indefensible, and far better journalists than me will comment on the worldwide ramifications of the spate of failed drug tests in Dubai this season, but the Emirates Racing Association are at least seen to be doing something and the sniggering from afar regards brushes and carpets can stop, regardless of whether they feel the bans are lenient or not.

Anyway, on to the action taking place on the track this week, and a classic looks in store for the feature Nad Al Sheba Trophy, a prep for the Dubai Gold Cup on March 25. It may well be a prep, but two of the highest-rated stayers in Europe will lock horns in the form of Vazirabad, the winner of the Dubai Gold Cup last year, and Sheikhzayedroad who took this corresponding event. The preparation for Sheikhzayedroad will be the same, literally straight off the plane and running whereas Vazirabad has been here for a few weeks now, but that certainly didn’t hinder work companion, Zarak, who was so impressive last week. My gut feeling is that Sheikhzayedroad will just be the straighter and David Simcock will be hoping for a change of luck, having had just one winner from 46 runners here over the past three years.

Many of the same fillies that took part in the UAE 1000 Guineas will contest the Oaks, and the market hasn’t missed the fact that Complimenti, drawn 13 and 11 on her last two starts, has now struck lucky with a pitch in stall 2, and that could be enough to see her reverse form with the three that finished ahead of her. There is obviously the extra distance to go as well, on paper perhaps only Melesina guaranteed to be suited by it but she seemed completely ill at ease on the surface in the Guineas so couldn’t be supported. Another race to leave alone.

As also is the newly-created Curlin Handicap, a race won by California Chrome last year with Mike de Kock hoping that his Mubtaahij can complete the Curlin/World Cup double. As mentioned last week, it hasn’t been a great Carnival for de Kock, and it will turn into a miserable one if Mubtaahij can’t defy top weight. He hasn’t won since the 2015 UAE Derby but he has plenty of high-class form both here and in America, and the cream usually rises to the top in this type of uneven handicap.

Godolphin could well dominate the Meydan Classic with Fly At Dawn and Really Special likely to be popular. Both are switching from the dirt, surprisingly so in the case of the former who landed the UAE 2000 Guineas trial but missed the Guineas itself due to a facial injury sustained in his box at home. The Al Bastikiya had been mentioned, but with Thunder Snow stepping up to the plate last week, Godolphin presumably feel it is best they don’t lock horns.

It hasn’t often paid to look too far beyond the obvious throughout the Carnival, particularly where Godolphin are concerned, but the each-way value looks to lie with Grey Britain who was far better than the bare result in the trial. He got shuffled back into a poor position before staying on late despite meeting trouble, his jockey Martin Harley picking up a ban and missing out on Sheikhzayedroad for his troubles. It is worth remembering he wasn’t beaten far by the likes of Rivet and Blue Point last season and that form will see him involved.

 Oh This Is Us was an unlucky loser last time and he can hopefully make amends in the concluding handicap over 7f. Dropped in from a wide draw on that occasion, he got going too late having met trouble, eventually closing to within a head of Salateen and off the same mark his case is obvious. Largely progressive throughout his career, stall 1 will make things easier for Pat Dobbs and the presence of Bravo Zolo does at least ensure Oh This Is Us is a decent price.

Stephen Molyneux’s Dubai World Cup Carnival tips:

10.05am (ET) Meydan: Grey Britain

13.00pm (ET) Meydan: Oh This Is Us 

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 16-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 twice. He cashed on the NHC Tour for 2018 with a 19th overall finish. Rich was also a winner of a $24,000 package into Kentucky Derby Betting Championship I. A former executive with Brisnet.com, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of AGameofSkill.com, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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