by Angus McNae, Racing UK
March 30, 2018
Finally the Dubai World Cup meeting at Meydan on Saturday is upon us and each of the nice races are of tremendous interest.
The international challengers have arrived and have all been seen at morning trackwork and, added to the mix, are some top quality domestic horses who springboard from a Carnival that can be rated as the best we have seen for a number of years.
The dirt track here poses a difficult conundrum for punters. There has been a strong inside rail advantage for the last few weeks and it has been hard for closers to get to those who can secure the rail. It would be dangerous to assume, however, that the advantage will be the same on World Cup night. For a start such things are a movable feast and secondly Bob Baffert gave his opinion earlier this week that the track had been fluffed up, which may mitigate what has been happening on the dirt track of late. The opening Godolphin Mile will be crucial in discovering how the dirt track will ride.
I have six fancies on the night, which will hopefully help us to turn £20 into a profit.
Race 1 (7:45AM ET) - Godolphin Mile (Gr 2; $1 Million) - #9 Heavy Metal (GB) (2/1)
Heavy Metal has already had a fabulous season at Meydan for the now-banned Salem Bin Ghadayer and he can cap it all off with a win in the Godolphin Mile for new trainer Sandeep Jadhav, Bin Ghadyer’s former assistant. One thing is for sure, this horse will lead early on, despite his draw in gate nine, and if the rail is the place to be he will take plenty of catching. Ryan Moore needs to send him early on and get the lead as was the case when Mickael Barzalona won on him last time out. He is a tremendously fast horse, who is ideally suited by a one-turn mile and this track really suits him. Given his early pace he will be clinging on in the closing stages but I think he will take enough petrol out of his rivals early on to negate their finishing efforts.
Race 3 (8:50AM ET) - Dubai Gold Cup (Gr 2; $1 Million) - #5 Vazirabad (FR) (2/1)
Vazirabad can win the Dubai Gold Cup for the third year in a row. The race this year is full of early pace and that will suit this hold up performer. He was beaten in his prep run for this in the Nad Al Sheba Trophy by Godolphin’s Rare Rhythm and with that horse in the field again we are set for a tremendous clash between two classy stayers. The doubt about Rare Rhythm confirming the form is the fact that he is unproven at two miles and he did rather ambush Vazirabad last time out, with Christophe Soumillon getting caught somewhat unaware of what was happening wide out on the track. Soumillon will be on his guard this time and Vazirabad should be sharper for that run. He can become the first thoroughbred to win a World Cup race three times.
Race 5 (10:05AM ET) - Al Quoz Sprint (Gr 1; $1 Million) - #9 Conquest Tsunami (15/1)
Conquest Tsunami is a fascinating runner in the Al Quoz Sprint. He is trained by California sprint guru Peter Miller and it would be fair to say this horse has improved a good deal for the switch to Miller from Mark Casse. Since making the move he has won two out of two for his new trainer at Santa Anita, progressing from claiming company to Graded stakes. This is a deep race and Blue Point has an obvious chance, but he is a short price but it is worth opposing him with this fast improving American sprinter.
Race 7 (11:35AM ET) - Dubai Turf (Gr 1; $6 Million) - #5 Benbatl (GB) (7/2)
Benbatl can win the Dubai Turf. His two wins at the Dubai World Cup Carnival this year marked him out as a classy performer and he showed that his win in the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot last season was no fluke. His time figure at Ascot was that of a Group One horse, as were his closing sectionals when he thrashed Bay Of Poets in the Al Rashidiya last month. He should be three from three at the Carnival, but he endured a wide trip from gate 10 of 11 last time out in the Group One Jebel Hatta, when he made a big move on the bend under James Doyle and he eventually paid for that and flattened out. He can bounce back here from a decent draw in five.
Race 8 (12:10PM ET) - Longines Dubai Sheema Classic (Gr 1; $6 Million) - #7 Hawkbill (8/1)
Hawkbill is about 8/1 for the Dubai Sheema Classic and he looks overpriced. He won on his first start here at Meydan beating Frontiersman narrowly. That in itself is not good enough to win this 12-furlong Turf Group One but he got a poor trip that day and gave away a lot of ground by racing wide. He already has some classy form to his name in Europe and he may be able to step up markedly on his reappearance run. The danger is that he could bounce out of that effort but at about I will take him each-way at the price.
Race 9 (12:50PM ET) - Dubai World Cup (Gr 1; $10 Million) - #9 West Coast (4/5)
West Coast is quite simply the best dirt horse around and he can prove it in the Dubai World Cup. His form behind Gun Runner in the Pegasus and Breeders Cup Classic stands head and shoulders above anything his rivals have achieved. His main problem will be in overcoming his wide post position in 9 and that will be even more tricky if the inside rail is Golden but I believe he figures to get a good stalking trip a day then he should be able to put them away in the straight to give Bob Baffert another Dubai World Cup.