Dubai World Cup Carnival Analysis – Thurs., Feb. 2, 2017

Dubai World CupSteven Molyneux’s Meydan Overview and selections for the fifth meeting of the 2017 Dubai World Cup Carnival.

Meydan Overview:

Where have all the horses gone? Two reopened races this week and none of the fields requiring reserves. Indeed, only one of the races needs stalls 11 and upwards which all suggests something is not quite right.

Sadly, injury has put pay to several of the foreign raiders – and could it be that Godolphin’s domination is scaring people away? Five winners from six thoroughbred races last week suggests it might, although the boys in blue themselves just have three representatives on Thursday so not a lot to be scared about there.

Horses rated 95-100 cannot compete in three of the six races on Thursday (you have to be rated 95 to be invited here), and a conservative estimation would suggest that has cost each field at least three or four runners. Rating bands have been shifted to try and encourage high-end horses to compete in handicaps, such as California Chrome last year, and therein may lie a problem. There simply are not enough high-end horses to go round, with one highly-respected visiting trainer describing Dubai as “the perfect place for a fully exposed horse to earn his corn”. I am pretty sure that is not the motto used on the marketing material for the Carnival each year.

So having bemoaned the lack of runners it should make life easier when it comes to finding winners, if only it were that simple. It may not have paid to look too far beyond the obvious last week but, despite the small fields, I am hoping it is the case on Thursday.

More on that later, first let’s have a look at the two feature races and in truth, success in the Al Shindagha Sprint and Al Maktoum Challenge could well go to local trainers. The dirt sprints are struggling to attract runners, only the Irish-trained Moviesta and Wild Dude are prepared to have a crack and while neither were disgraced on their initial goes on the surface here, they did not show enough to suggest they can beat last year’s Dubai Golden Shaheen winner, Muarrab. He may have given best to the old boy Reynaldothewizard last time but he had been well and truly softened up by Desert Force then and there should not be anything to worry about on that score now. Having also met with defeat on his return, the run last time was a definite step up on that and he should merit his odds-on status.

The second round of the Maktoum Challenge is less cut-and-dried. Le Bernardin had several of Thursday’s rivals in behind when landing the first round, and he is already proven over this far, but is now drawn in stall nine compared to stall one then. Lindo Amor seems the likeliest from that race to reverse form given it was his first start of the season and he was also inconvenienced out of the gates, but if there is to be an upset then perhaps it will come in the form of Power Blade who does not deserve to be the outsider of the lot. The Korean raider has plenty to find on ratings but was going on at the finish behind the potentially group-class North American last time, and the second has won since. It is also encouraging his compatriots have proven to be very competitive so far, acknowledging this is the hardest race any of them will have tackled.

The staying handicaps have not been the most competitive so far and I think Warrior Of Light has been too readily dismissed. He was only two and a half lengths behind Red Galileo on his return, from over a year off, and I hope the longer trip and expected stronger gallop will see him in far better light. He was effectively found out for a turn of foot, plus rustiness, and with his stablemate, Beach Bar, expected to bowl along out in front, he could upset some more exalted rivals.

It’s a true story that David Simcock went to the sales to buy Warrior Of Light and ended up with Polybius, while Brendan Powell went to buy Polybius and ended up with Warrior Of Light. More than fate alone has me tipping both as I think Polybius produced as eye-catching a performance as we have seen so far at the Carnival when fourth to Final Venture on his return. He could have run over 6f last week, but he absolutely tanked through that contest so no surprise that on just his second start for David Simcock, they have opted to drop him back to 5f. Final Venture, Steady Pace and Jamesie emerged from that race to pretty much run to the pound last week so the form is solid, and if Polybius can do the same, he looks overpriced from a good draw in stall 10.

Stephen Molyneux’s Dubai World Cup Carnival week five tips:

11.15am (ET) Meydan – Warrior Of Light

11.50pm (ET) Meydan – Power Blade

1.00pm (ET) Meydan – Polybius

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 19-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 of the NHC twice. A former executive with and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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