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February 22: Free Dubai Picks, including Zabeel Mile

by Angus McNae, Racing UK

February 21, 2018

We saw two nice performances on Saturday at Meydan. Both Yalta and Heavy Metal made all for decisive victories over six furlongs and a mile respectively. Yalta ran a Time figure that suggests he is the best locally trained dirt sprinter operating at the moment and Heavy Metal is firmly on the road to the Godolphin Mile. Both are trained by Salem Bin Ghadayer, who has had a superb World Cup Carnival.

This week we have an excellent card and I’m hoping I can add to the treble secured here on the blog on Saturday. Here are my five selections this week.

Race 1 (9:30AM ET) - Meydan Sprint (G2) - #4 Ertijaal (IRE) (4/5)

This Meydan Sprint is a cracker and can go to the world-class course specialist Ertijaal at the expense of the very useful UAE debutant Blue Point. Ertijaal is the course record holder here, and excels at this the minimum trip. He also has the benefit of a recent run, where he beat subsequent winner Hit the Bid. This sharp five furlongs suits him ideally, and could well be too sharp for the returning Blue Point who has top-class form at six furlongs and may well be a significant player in the Al Quoz Sprint on World Cup night on March 31 over 6f. For the here and now, however, I believe it will be Ertijaal’s day once again at his beloved course.

Race 3 (10:40AM ET) - Handicap - #1 Kimbear (1/2)

This horse has been spoken of in glowing terms by his trainer Doug Watson. On his Meydan debut over a mile he was most impressive when he posted an easy five-length success from stablemate Layl. He was then a bit disappointing when beaten in to second by Boynton over the same distance. However now dropping in trip to seven furlongs he can get back on track. Essentially he is a speed horse, who travels strongly and I think he will be much more effective at this distance.  Satish Seemar’s Raven’s Corner is a clear danger after his third to Drafted last time and there may not be much between them but Kimbear is the narrow call.

Race 4 (11:15AM ET) - Dubai Millennium Stakes (G3) - #3 Leshlaa (9/5) 

This horse won a handicap off a mark of 105 last time and is immediately stepped up to a Group Three contest. His authoritative win saw him thrash future winner Blair House by 4 1/4 lengths. He looked like a Group horse in a handicap there, and now he gets the chance to prove that the impression he created there has real substance. He is one of a number of Godolphin horses in this race, and we may be on the wrong one, but I believe he deserves a chance to show just how good he is in better company. He should be backed with confidence.

Race 5 (11:50AM ET) - Zabeel Mile (G2) - #3 Bay of Poets (IRE) (3/1)

This horse ran a blinder when finishing second to the very smart Benbatl last time and he can win this. He is a class act. As a three-year-old he finished second to Cliffs Of Moher in the Dee Stakes at Chester and he also ran a number of solid races after that. This is Zabeel Mile is a weak Group Two, which the classy Championship would win if back to his best. He showed very little last time on his first run back after an injury, though. Bay Of Poets would be ideally suited by another furlong, but he is a class act and a repeat of his run behind Benbatl will do the job.

Race 6 (12:25PM ET) - Handicap - #3 Drafted (2/1)

This deep closer benefited from a strong pace last time out. He travelled well in rear, handles the kick back and stormed home for a decisive win over Yalta, who did the form no harm by subsequently bolting up. Some will oppose Drafted because he got a good set up that day, and was rated evenly by jockey Sam Hitchcott. However it would be wrong to underestimate his authority. There will be pace here and he can surge late again to win, despite an 8lb rise in the weights.