Seasons end in Dubai and the culmination brings 5 Group 1’s, 2 Group 2’s and a Group 3 with a equal split between tapeta and turf. It’s the largest single day’s prize fund of the year, a cool $27 m.
It’s the only thing that will be cool in the desert as the competition and the temperature will be white hot. Beating the competition is one thing, beating the heat will be another. The heat and the sand hang over the desert making the challenge all the more difficult. The animals have a lot to cope with.
Trainers have adopted different tactics for their horses with some being in Dubai since the carnival started while others choose to come late preferring to deliver fresh when the cash is down.
2.10 Godolphin Mile Sponsored by Etisalat G2 1600 Meters (Tapeta) $ 1,000,000
Expect the first to stay at home. African Story justifies short price favouritism on the back of an easy 4 L win in the Burg Nahaar having been previously been an unlucky loser when not having a clear run in an earlier G3. If there is to be an upset if might come from the Al Fahidi Fort winner, Viscount Nelson whose stamina was stretched last time over a mile and half. He previously suffered from a chronic lack of pace over this distance.
2.45 Dubai Gold Cup Sponsored by Dubai Duty Free G3 3200 Meters (Turf) $ 1,000,000
An added addition this year bringing the long distance division into play. The market can’t split the Mahmood Al Zarooni pair of Fox Hunt and Opinion Poll on the basis of the 2 1/2 L that separated them in the warm up here 30 days ago. Opinion Poll gave Fox Hunt a 1lb that time and lacked the recent outing of his stablemate. At Goodwood in the Cup last year it was Opinion Poll who came out on top. The dark won here could be Mikhail Glinka whose last two runs have been impressive over 10 and 12 F.
3.35 UAE Derby Sponsored by The Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group G2 1900 Meters (Tapeta) $ 2,000,000
The three year old’s and the first derby of the year. Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf and Dirt form are represented courtesy of the Aidan O’Brian pair Wrote and Daddy Long Legs. The question for Wrote will be the tapeta while for Daddy Long Legs second last at Churchill Downs doesn’t inspire confidence. An each way opportunity could come via Surfer who might get the run of the race up the inside as opposed to the outside runs he’s had here to date.
4.00 Al Quoz Sprint Sponsored by Emirates NBD G2 1000 Meters (Turf) $ 1,000,000
The most open contest of the day. Unusually Irish sprinters may hold the key. On super Saturday Invisible Ash coming up the rail got the better of Sole Power who came up the middle of the course with Nocturnal Affair back in third. Johnny Murtagh looked to have buckets in hand on Sole Power and if he has something to race with a second G1 after the 2010 Nunthorpe could be on the cards.That day he was a shock 100/1 winner over Starspanglebanner. Hong Kong’s Joy and Fun would have 5 L to find on a line through Starspanglebanner on his 2010 Golden Jubilee run.
4.35 Dubai Golden Shaheen Sponsored By Gulf News G1 1200 Meters (Tapeta) $ 2,000,000
This one is all about the imports. America, Sinapore, Hong Kong, Britain, Australia as well as Dubai and Bahrain are represented here. Rocket Man has 10lbs over his nearest rivals on official ratings and it could well be Singapore’s day. He has been a model of consistency throughout his career and is well capable of retaining his crown won last year.
5.25 Dubai Duty Free Sponsored by Dubai Duty Free G1 1800 Meters (Turf) $ 5,000,000
The first of the big three. Previs returns to defend but he has yet to display his A game this year. Pace will be crucial here and it’s hard to see where it will come from. Godolphin have given up the ghost on trying to turn Delegator into a sprinter and he stretches beyond a mile for the first time. The in form comes courtesy of Ambitious Dragon on the back of two defeats if Xtension at Sha Tin. It’s a step up for most and in a trappy contest an alternative may be Japan’s Dark Shadow who caught the eye in the Tenno Sho when beaten a half a lenght by Tosen Jordan. A nice prep at Kyoto in February will have brought him on.
6.00 Dubai Sheema Classic Presented by Longines G1 2400 Meters (Turf) $ 5,000,000
The least exposed here is Willie Haggas’s Beaten Up. This will be the 4 year old’s fourth run and it is a considerable step up in class to maintain his 100 % record. He shaped liked a colt who will have much to offer at this level this season but this may just come too soon. The draw won’t be a factor here with 10 runners over the mile and a half and it’s intersting that connections have plumbed for turf rather than tapeta for Cirrus De Aigles. He was second to Zazou on the new Chantilly all weather surface in his recent prep run but that was still quick and an impressive performance. St Nicholas Abbey has regained his confidence with an ultra impressive display at Churchill Downs in the Breeders Cup Turf and if he handles the heat he is the one to beat. Confidence is also an issue for stablemate Treasure Beech who set off as the hair in the Arc. A new partnership with Jamie Spencer in the Hay colours might see him ridden with more restraint which could put him in the mix with the front two.
6.40 Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline G1 2000 Meters (Tapeta) $ 10,000,000
The big one. Confidence is high from Joseph O’Brien about the chances of So You Think. He ran well in the Breeders Cup Classic until flattening out in the last two furlongs. Granted that was the end of a long season but one wonders if the surface was really to his liking. Tapeta may be better than dirt for him but questions remain. Game On Dude won’t have any surface issues but has to come from the carpark draw in stall 14. Chantel Suderland will drop him in and rely on the breaks going her way up the straight. They mightn’t come. Smart Falcon is a dirt horse through and through and out of gate 5 you have got to like his chances however in a race that can produce upsets Zazou looked very decent on the Chantilly polytrack and if he can transfer to the tapeta Peslier could come late to steal it.
A cracking day’s racing. Top class action. Enjoy.