2019 Dubai World Cup: Will This Be the Pace Setup?

The ensuing proverbial chess match meets the absolute apex of horseracing excitement. While multiple storylines exist—as they often do in a complex renewal of any world-class race—one that shines in this year’s edition is that of the luckless and much-loved North America, a truly local product and hero trained at Zabeel Stables by Satish Seemar.

Big in size and style, the front-running 7-year-old bay son of Dubawi who failed to break in last year’s event—losing all chance as one of the favourites—has returned with a vengeance in 2019, winning both his starts on the local dirt in emphatic style. On Wednesday, in the official post position draw, he landed in barrier three among the 13 set to contest the 2000m affair. Jockey Richard Mullen will team up with Ramzan Kadyrov’s imposing gelding for a 12th time, hoping for an eighth victory.

“Given we both break on terms, it looks the pace will be between my horse North America and Capezzano,” Mullen said. “I think North America has more natural speed than Capezzano, so I hope that will leave us in front to dictate and use the huge stride pattern he has once we get into the back straight. I am happier with him being drawn outside Capezzano. If it was the other way around, he would be able pressure us, but we might have that advantage now. Thunder Snow will probably be up close, as he has shown in the past from wide draws. I think Axelrod is another that could be racing prominently.”

Salem bin Ghadayer makes a splash back in action with a trio of entries in the world’s richest race, topped by Sultan Ali’s aforementioned Capezzano, a progressive type who has manhandled his foes by a combined 25¾ lengths in his last three tries, all wins, including a 9½-length drubbing of defending Dubai World Cup champion Thunder Snow in the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3. The mount of Mickael Barzalona upped the intrigue when landing in barrier two, as he very much has the same forwardly inclined modus operandi as market favourite North America.

Bin Ghadayer’s other two are Grade 1-placed American imports bearing the banner of Phoenix Thoroughbreds and partners, Gronkowski and Axelrod. The pair landed adjacently in posts seven and eight, with Oisin Murphy and Royston Ffrench set to take the respective reins of two horses who failed to factor in their Super Saturday preps.

Godolphin’s popular Thunder Snow is certainly the standard in the race as he bids to become the first two-time winner one year after becoming the first UAE Derby (G2) victor to pull off the double. Without a win since his tour-de-force last year, the Saeed bin Suroor trainee has accounted well for himself, including a second in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) and third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1)—both over 2000m on dirt. Christophe Soumillon will once again have to work out a trip from a wide post, as he did when breaking from 10-of-10 in 2018 and 13-of-16 in the 2017 UAE Derby, when he jumps from barrier 12.

Bookending Thunder Snow in second and fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic were Salomon del Valle’s Gunnevera and WinStar Farm, China Horse Club et al.’s Yoshida, who bring ample class into a deep field. Five-time Grade 1-placed Gunnevera hopes to finally break through at the top level when he is ridden by Emisael Jaramillo from the rail. The deep closer was last seen disappointing in sixth in the $9 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) on Jan. 26—a race in which fellow entrants, Charles Fipke’s Seeking the Soul and WinStar Farm, China Horse Club et al.’s Audible, finished second and fifth. The Pegasus, in its current and previous form as the Donn Handicap (G1), has produced no less than five Dubai World Cup winners, including Bill Mott-trained inaugural victor Cigar.

Mott seeks a second win when he returns with his first runner in the big race since Lea (third in 2015) when he saddles multi-surface Grade 1 winner Yoshida. A decisive winner of the Woodward (G1) last September in his dirt bow over Seeking the Soul and Gunnevera, he exits the worst effort of his life when finishing sixth in the turf equivalent of the Pegasus over soft ground. A five-time winner from 13 starts, he and Todd Pletcher-trained Grade 1 winner Audible are owned in part by WinStar, whose Well Armed brought the curtain down on Nad Al Sheba in a 2009 Dubai World Cup romp. Jose Ortiz rides Yoshida from post 10, while Audible, who must improve to factor, landed in the four for jockey Flavien Prat.

Seeking the Soul is Fipke and trainer Dallas Stewart’s second runner in the race after Forever Unbridled’s fifth last year after a wide trip. The dark bay homebred has been impressive in morning track work, but must prove his effectiveness over the 2000m trip, as well as at this level of competition, when Mike Smith takes the reins from a plum draw in five. Finishing a short head in front of Forever Unbridled in 2018 and returning again is Reddam Racing’s Pavel, who breaks from post six under Joel Rosario for trainer Doug O’Neill. Interestingly, he adds blinkers after having breezed in them earlier in the week.

Japan’s K T Brave, a flashy chestnut with a big blaze, appears to have shipped well and was a good third two back in the Tokyo Daishoten (G1), finishing 1½ lengths behind Dubai World Cup alumnus Gold Dream. He must improve to factor here for trainer Haruki Sugiyama and owner Kazuyoshi Takimoto. The same can be said for another Asia-based chestnut, South Korea’s Dolkong, who was a romping winner of the Curlin Handicap on Feb. 28, but could only manage third last out in Round 3, nearly pipping Thunder Snow. The Simon Foster trainee is owned by Lee Tae In and breaks from the outside post 13 under Olivier Doleuze.

Rounding out the field is a horse many, including trainer Ahmad bin Harmash, believe is one to watch for the 2020 Dubai World Cup—as well as a serious factor in 2019—Hamdan Sultan Ali Alsabousi’s New Trails. The regally bred son of Medaglia d’Oro has raced five times this season and risen from the handicap ranks to Group 2-placed when second to North America in Round 2. Fourth in Round 3, he was 1¼ lengths shy of becoming the 13th horse in this field to have won or placed in G1 company. Connor Beasley rides from barrier nine.

Dubai World Cup 2019: Magic Wand headed to Dubai Turf or Sheema Classic

A daughter of Galileo, she was last seen running a fine race to be second in the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitationalat Gulfrstream Park in January.

O’Brien said: “Magic Wand did a bit of work with a lead horse and we are thinking of going to Dubai with her.

“She will either go over nine furlongs (Turf) or a mile and a half (Sheema Classic).”

Add Age Discrimination to the Long List of Offenses out of Saudi Arabia

Hall of Famer Prado deemed too old to ride in Saudi Arabia

Most people are not aware and it’s hard to believe but the country of Saudi Arabia is head of an important part of the United Nation’s Human Rights Council.  No, that’s not an Onion story, that’s reality.  Well, here’s their latest offense …

Per HRN, Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado, 51, posted to his Twitter account a copy of Saudi Arabian rules saying licensed riders must be no younger than 16 and no older than 50 — something he didn’t know until making a recent move overseas.

“I wish I could be more informed about (this rule) before I left USA and my business,” Prado tweeted, “to ride here under contract.”

returned back to america after i find out i can’t get license here in saudi arabia from the jockey club, because of my age, anyway thank you so much to mr Adelal Almazroa, i wish i could be more informed about before i left USA and my business, to ride here under contract, SAD ! pic.twitter.com/3HkZ0E1yu6

— edgar prado (@edgarp5361997) February 21, 2019

The native of Peru began 2019 riding at Gulfstream Park, where he won one race from 10 starters. He last took a leg up in the U.S. on Jan. 26, when he rode Something Awesome to a 10th-place finish in the Pegasus World Cup (G1).

By Feb. 1, he was riding overseas, at least until discovered to be too old for it.

Prado’s news comes amidst a golden age for older jockeys, as Mike Smith (53) won …

2019 Dubai Gold Cup plans for Star runner Cross Counter

Cross Counter powered home to win the Melbourne Cup at Flemington in November and his trainer Charlie Appleby has revealed plans for the lightly raced stayer to make his first appearance of 2019 in the Group Two Dubai Gold Cup on March 30.

“Cross Counter has come back from Melbourne stronger and brighter than ever, and he has put on 25 kilos in body weight,” Appleby said on Godolphin’s website.

“He looks great.

“After discussing his program with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, we have pencilled in the Dubai Gold Cup as a starting point for 2019, and we will see where that takes us.

“It will be an opportunity for His Highness to see Cross Counter on the big night, and also for Godolphin fans in Dubai to give the horse the ‘home town’ welcome he deserves.”

A defence of the Melbourne Cup is among options for Cross Counter.

“A defence of his Melbourne Cup crown is an obvious long-range target but we know he will be getting a lot more weight this time,” Appleby said.

Source: SkyRacingWorld

Trainer Kenny McPeek has his Eyes on Dubai

American trainer Kenny McPeek has long made a good living by winning big races and making intelligent ventures with racehorses. Led now by the aptly named Senior Investment, he is set to invade the Dubai World Cup Carnival with a trio of intriguing prospects, marking him as the first American trainer to come to the Carnival as early as January with the intention of campaigning throughout the two-month affair.

“We’re looking forward to it,” McPeek said. “Our horses are currently at Payson Park in Florida and they will ship together in early January.”

In the past, U.S.-based conditioners such as Kiaran McLaughlin (Frosted), Dale Romans (Keen Ice), Art Sherman (California Chrome) and Steve Asmussen (Curlin) have taken aim on the Dubai World Cup with runners they prepped over the local surface four-to-five weeks out (late February/early March). Then again, if it is new territory, one can bet that the innovative mind of McPeek has its destiny in manifest.

In 1995, McPeek nearly upset the apple cart by finishing a hard-charging second in the Kentucky Derby (G1) with longshot Tejano Run, who split two champions in the process (Thunder Gulch and Timber Country). In 2002, he won his first American classic when shocking the world with Sarava (70-1) in the Belmont Stakes. In 2004, he took Hard Buck across the world twice to finish second in the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (G1) at long odds. In 2005, he saw brilliance where others did not and picked eventual Dubai World Cup (G1) winner Curlin out of the Keeneland September yearling sale for a mere $57,000—a horse who would go on to earn $10.5 million and one of a slew of bargain buys who would land copious graded stakes for him and others.

In 2017, he—along with Linda Rice—became the first American trainers to have horses compete in South Korea when racing in the Korea Autumn Racing Carnival. And, of course, over the last few years he co-founded, developed and promoted one of the most popular smart phone applications in horseracing—Horse Races Now—which has helped effectively collate the way American racing fans acquire news and information. His sights are now set on the DWC Carnival and he brings three diverse prospects who appear thoughtfully, if not cleverly, selected.

Little Mike in Dubai

Training in Dubai

Senior Investment is a consistent Grade 3 winner who should benefit from the longer dirt races available at Meydan. Classic-placed when third in the 2017 Preakness Stakes (G1), the son of Discreetly Mine recently returned from a five-month layoff to finish third in a 1 1/16-mile conditioned allowance and then fifth in the Marathon (G2) over Breeders’ Cup weekend. He has a trio of victories from 19 starts, but has dodged no one in the process—competing in eight graded stakes (three G1).

Similar to Senior Investment is Harlan Strong, a son of McPeek-conditioned Harlan’s Holiday who has developed deliberately for the operation over 17 starts and two seasons. Bred in Argentina, he maintains a positive trajectory, especially in grass races at and beyond nine furlongs and possibly as far as two miles. Earlier this season, he was second in the Louisville Handicap (G3) behind banner-mate Vettori Kin.

“Senior Investment is difficult to handle in the U.S., condition-wise,” McPeek explained. “He’s run out of conditions to run in and I think the handicap racing there will suit him quite well. The nine-to-10 furlong races are what he should excel in and he’s a solid, sound horse.

“Harlan Strong is similar,” McPeek continued. “He’s at the stakes level where he’s out of allowance conditions and he should do well in the handicaps in Dubai, hopefully. We actually had another in a similar situation in (multiple G3 winner) Rated R Superstar, but he unfortunately was claimed last week (for $62,500 at Churchill Downs).”

Dark Horse Grecko

The last and arguably most enthralling of the triad is Argentina’s star juvenile of this past summer, Grecko, who boasts a flashy gray coat, immense amount of promise and appears a prime suspect for the road to the richest dirt derby in the world, the $2.5 million UAE Derby (G2) on Mar. 30. The son of Not For Sale—the sire of 2006 UAE Derby winner Asiatic Boy—romped in June’s Estrellas Juvenile (G1), covering a mile in 1:34.01.

“He’s a southern hemisphere 3-year-old and we bought him privately out of the Estrellas,” McPeek explained. “He has been with us for a few months now and I think that’s important. The difficulty of going to Dubai is high, but a horse who’s had time to acclimate better to our training has a better chance of doing well once we go there—and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

All three McPeek horses are fully or partially owned by Fern Circle Stables and are expected to be joined by assistant trainer Otto Draper, a former head trainer, jockey and exercise rider who has worked for the legendary likes of Charlie Whittingham and D. Wayne Lukas. Fern Circle’s principal is American billionaire businessman and philanthropist Paul Fireman, who led Reebok to becoming one of the most successful shoe companies in the world in the 1980s and 1990s before eventually selling it to Adidas. With 31 winners from 198 starts alone or in partnership—and playing at the higher end—Fern Circle has quickly made its red, white and blue silks known in stakes across North America.

“Mr. Fireman is a wonderful guy to work for,” McPeek concluded. “We’ve talked about it and decided to come. The other option is to give these horses the winter off. Even then, that can be a little problematic, so I think that it’s a good time to do this. He has given us the opportunity to go to Dubai and that’s great.”

Enhancements to 2019 Dubai Carnival and World Cup Cards

Meydan Group has released the list of horses accepted for the 2019 Dubai World Cup Carnival, which commences on January 3, 2019, at Meydan Racecourse. The list features 202 accepted horses conditioned by a total of 71 trainers from 17 countries. Several international stars are set to travel to Dubai this winter to compete for a share of the US$12,670,000 prize money—an increase of 12% from 2018—across 10 race cards, including 61 Thoroughbred races and 4 Group Purebred Arabian races.

In its 16th year, Dubai World Cup Carnival will take place on nine consecutive Thursdays, from January 3 through February 28, before ending with Super Saturday, March 9. Super Saturday’s race card, which has been boosted to a record $2.65 million in prize money, will once again be a dress rehearsal for the world-record $35 million Dubai World Cup card on March 30, 2019.

Purse Increases for 2019 Dubai World Cup Carnival

The three rounds of the Al Maktoum Challenge have received purse increases: Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 (Group 2, 1600m, January 10) is now worth $350,000; an increase of $100,000. Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 (Group 2, 1900m, February 7) is now worth $450,000; an increase of $200,000. Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 (Group 1, 2000m, Super Saturday) is now worth $600,000; an increase of $200,000. Eight of the previous 19 Dubai World Cup winners have competed in the series, including four of the last seven.

MUSIR winning in Dubai. Copyright Andrew Watkins

Super Saturday’s Jebel Hatta (Group 1, 1800m turf) will increase $100,000 to $400,000. Other increases for Super Saturday: Dubai City of Gold (Group 2, 2410m turf) will be worth $300,000 and the Al Bastakiya (Listed, 1900m) goes up to $300,000 as the prep for the richest dirt derby in the world, the $2.5 million UAE Derby sponsored by The Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group (Group 2, 1900m). Three individual races on the same evening increase by $150,000 to boast purses of $350,000: the Mahab Al Shimaal (Group 3, 1200m), Burj Nahaar (Group 3, 1600m) and newly upgraded Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint (Group 3, 1200m turf).

Dubai World Cup Carnival handicaps will receive increases ranging from $10,000 to $15,000, with the minimum total purse being $135,000 (for horses rated 90-105) and rising as high as $175,000 (for horses rated 90 and up).

Noted invitees for this first invitation round for the Dubai World Cup Carnival include Ken McPeek-trained Senior Investment, Harlan Strong and Grecko. Belmont Stakes runner-up Gronkowski and Pennsylvania Derby runner-up Axelrod are also listed as Carnival invitees. Sandeep Jadhav is listed as the trainer for both horses should they ship overseas. Gronkowski is trained by Chad Brown, while Mike McCarthy trains Axelrod.

A different invitation process will lead to more U.S.-based horses being invited to run on Dubai World Cup night.

Source: Press Release

Mubtaahij to Get Dubai World Cup Prep in San Pasqual

Mubtaahij will get his audition for the $10 million Dubai World Cup (G1) in the $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park.

Source: Mubtaahij to Get Dubai World Cup Prep in San Pasqual

2017 Dubai World Cup Card Analysis

by Steven Molyneux

The haters will always hate but even the professional whingers will surely struggle to criticise the quality on show in Dubai on Saturday evening.

Sand racing may not be for everyone, and it is arguable the dirt track at Meydan has proven to be even more one-dimensional than ever this season, but the best horse in the world, Arrogate, will be stepping on it at 12.45pm (ET) and for the credibility of the meeting, that was vital. Listening to Bob Baffert, you do get the feeling it was not exactly at the top of his wish list, and previous quotes such as “we bought the horse to race in America” back that up, but they are here with seemingly everything running smoothly, and it is hardly stating the obvious that he will be very difficult to beat. There is no point trying to oppose him, and I cannot even come up with anything worthwhile for place purposes, so on we go.

UK racing is still very much in jump mode, but such as Aidan O’Brien, John Gosden, Roger Charlton, Henry Candy and many more will be using Dubai as a springboard to their spring/summer campaigns. O’Brien sends over his biggest team of runners, nine to be exact. His son, Donnacha, describes the raid as being reflective of the strong team of older horses at their disposal this year.

Dubai World CupAs with any big meeting, rumours can spread like wildfire and a possible injury to Ertijaal seems the biggest non-story. Well, we assume and hope it was a non-story. The favourite for the Al Quoz has proven nigh-on unbeatable down the straight track, albeit over 5f, and the only question mark that hangs over him is his ability to be as effective over 6f. He was before but is undoubtedly quicker now. I think he will be. He fits the brief of many of the favourites on the card: solid but at a price that isn’t going to pay for the wife’s birthday, but perhaps one of the more vulnerable market leaders is Vazirabad in the Dubai Gold Cup.

He won the race last year, but a shallower version, and many in the field are closely matched through various pieces of form. He was also beaten in the trial and looking through his record, he has hitherto largely bypassed all the main staying contests, the Group Ones in France not comparing to those in England in my opinion.

So with many of these on a par, where does the extra edge lie? Tactics are the obvious starting point and for that reason I am siding with Big Orange, who ran second to Vazirabad 12 months ago. He seems the only sure to go from the front with Frankie Dettori (his sole ride on the card) a master at the waiting ride in front. He was softened up a touch last year by Certerach, which left him vulnerable come the finish but hopefully that will not happen again and he looks the value.

On to the UAE Derby and Thunder Snow will need to be a very, very good horse to win from stall 13. We already know he is a very good horse but there is enough against him to suggest he won’t achieve that extra very here. The dirt didn’t seem too much of an issue when he won the UAE 2000 Guineas on his reappearance, but that was a nine-runner race and this will be a different kettle of fish. Bee Jersey has the best part of six lengths to find with him, and indeed he has a similar distance to find with Fawree, but I am quite happy to believe he can. Firstly, Bee Jersey has only had three starts and can/will still improve, while he made a big move at halfway in that Guineas and it left him empty for the finish. He was also drawn in stall nine of nine on that occasion and is in seven now, so at the very least should bridge the gap.

Zarak looks banker material in the Dubai Turf such was the impression he made when landing the Dubai Millennium Stakes during the Carnival. He was still someway short of fitness that day, both in appearance and at the suggestion of his trainer, yet he won on the bridle beating Earnshaw by a length and three quarters, that horse getting to within a length and a half of Decorated Knight in the Jebel Hatta. His form behind Almanzor last season is top drawer stuff and he very much strikes as a horse that is about to come of age.

One more selection and that is Jack Hobbs in the Dubai Sheema Classic who, in a similar vein, has form behind Almanzor and strikes as the type to fulfil all his potential as a five-year-old. No horse has impressed more in appearance than Jack Hobbs, very much confirming the opinion of John Ferguson when he bought the horse, that he would be one that blossomed with time under his belt. That time was rather enforced following injury, but it should prove to be a blessing in disguise and this long-striding sort should be well suited by the Meydan track.

Stephen Molyneux’s Dubai World Cup Best Bet selections:
8:50am (ET) Meydan: Big Orange
9.25am (ET) Meydan: Bee Jersey
11:30am (ET) Meydan: Zarak
12:05pm (ET) Meydan: Jack Hobbs

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

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 

Dubai Racing Carnival Analysis – Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017

Dubai World Cupby Steven Molyneux

A brief flurry of excitement this week with the release of the nominations for Dubai World Cup night, the excitement stemming from the fact Arrogate was among them.

Let’s face it the race is in need of boost, nothing got the juices flowing in the second round of the Maktoum Challenge last week, but realistically has the fact Arrogate is nominated brought him any nearer to running? Well it’s a step, but the facts are these free nominations closed on the January 12, so he was included even before he won the Pegasus, and talk since then has hardly been positive regards his inclusion. Anyway, that is all for another day, as this week sees two Carnival fixtures with the Godolphin young guns putting their classic aspirations on the line.

Saeed bin Suroor has openly admitted that he will use the UAE 1000 Guineas and Oaks as trials ahead of the Guineas back in the UK, so all eyes will be on Really Special on Thursday. She is naturally a very short price having won the trial and with the extra 200m firmly in her favour, it is hard to see her getting beaten, particularly as she largely comes up against the same bunch of fillies. Interestingly, Charlie Appleby did say on Wednesday that he would take a view on running Sobetsu in the UAE Oaks depending on what happens on Thursday, the filly here in Dubai and taking her winter training well.
As too is Boynton, who, in similar vein, could run later in the Carnival depending on what happens with Godolphin’s runners in the 2000 Guineas on Saturday.

The love-in for Mizbah on social media is (hopefully) very much tongue in cheek after his record breaking success over 1900m last time, but he has been found a perfect opportunity to supplement those gains in the 2000m handicap that is race three on the card. The angle is simple, he has early pace and looks the sole speed in the race, to the extent that it could almost be immaterial that he was put up 9lb for last time. I guess that, in a nutshell, explains just how one dimensional dirt racing can be.

Emotionless is on a retrieval mission yet pitches up as favourite again, the longer trip at least expected to see him get in a rhythm this time, but he still comes with risks attached, which leaves the Korean raider, Triple Nine as the main danger. He was half a length behind Hunting Ground last time compared to Mizbah beating the same horse seven and a half lengths, so collaterally, he has a bit to find acknowledging the weight pull, but the Koreans are nothing if not game and expect to see him staying on, if hopefully a bit too late in the day.

I will happily bypass the sprint this week, which brings me onto the penultimate contest, a 7f handicap that sees Flash Fire head the weights.
Charlie Appleby did nominate him as his best chance of the weekend but he has not exactly been missed by the bookmakers and I instead prefer to give Tahanee another chance. She got no luck in running behind Fanciful Angel on her reappearance and then surprisingly tried to make all the running in the Cape Verdi, where she faded into fifth behind Very Special. The front-running tactics will hopefully be canned, particularly with Anaerobio, Salateen and possibly even First Selection as potential front-runners, and that should enable her to confirm the promise of that initial effort.

Blue is likely to be the colour in the finale, with the trusty red cap, or is it white cap, firmly on board Folkswood. He failed to run down Artigiano on his reappearance but travelled for the most part like a horse ahead of his mark with a 2lb rise not enough to compensate for that. Stall ten now compared to stall two then complicates matters to a degree but Colm O’Donoghue will have plenty of time to edge his mount over and he should be well served by the slightly shorter trip. Reverting to true Meydan turf racing style, expect them to potter around which puts Folkswood in the perfect position to go for home early in the straight and hopefully stay there.

Stephen Molyneux’s selections for Meydan on Thursday morning:
10:40am (ET) Meydan: Mizbah
12.25pm (ET) Meydan: Tahanee
1.00pm (ET) Meydan: Folkswood