Newbury and Kelso provide the best of the action in Britain this afternoon. With the ITV4 cameras covering the best of the action from both venues. Plus, as an added bonus they’re also taking three races from World Cup Night at Meydan.
For those of you who prefer the flat, like I do, the Irish turf season gets underway at the Curragh this afternoon. The highlight of an eight race card is the latest renewal of the Paddy Power Irish Lincolnshire (3:35).
I won’t be covering the Irish Lincolnshire in today’s preview, but I have a couple of strong fancies which will be available to Victor Value subscribers here.
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Inside today’s main piece I’m looking at the Meydan card. Nothing against the Newbury & Kelso cards which are competitive cards in their own right and will provide some bets for me but It’s the Meydan action that gets my pulse racing.
There’s a veritable feast of Group 1 action on World Cup Night. There are three Group 1’s on the turf and two on the dirt. The $10 million Dubai World Cup (4:35) on the dirt concludes what looks like an excellent Meydan card.
Algiers, trained by Simon & Ed Crisford, heads the betting for the World Cup. He’s won both his starts on the Meydan dirt and should go well. However, he does face some tough rivals including the Bob Baffert trained Country Grammar who won last year’s race.
In addition to last year’s winner, Algiers also faces a host of high class Japanese dirt horses. It’s going to be a tough ask for the Crisford gelding. I have a feeling this valuable purse will be heading to Japan but I have no real idea which of the eight Japanese trained runners will do it.
I’m concentrating on the turf races at Meydan and the first race to come under the microscope is the Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup.
12:40 – Dubai Gold Cup – 2m
Subjectivist comfortably won this 2021 before going to win the Ascot Gold Cup that summer. Injured after his Ascot success the 6-year-old returned from 618-day absence with a 10 length 12th of 13 in a Group 3 in Saudi Arabia last month. Not surprisingly he was plenty fresh that day and he will strip much fitter today. Provided he doesn’t bounce he’s capable of another success in the race.
Siskany had Ardakan 2 length back in second when winning the Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy (1m 6f) here last month. The race suited the winner who was more handily placed of the pair. Whilst both horses should be suited to the step up to 2m. I just prefer the claims of Ardakan who would have preferred a stronger gallop last time.
Verdict: If Subjectivist is back to his best, he would be tough to beat. Ardakan looks the form alternative and just gets the nod.
1:15 – Al Quoz Sprint – 6f
Ryan Moore is an eyecatching jockey booking for Hong Kong trained challenger Sight Success. The 7-year-old is a smart sprinter over 5f/6f and if he translates his best form to Meydan would be the one to beat.
Al Suhail has won both his starts at Meydan this winter. Both those successes have come over 7f. The 6-year-old is in the form of his career and the drop back to 6f shouldn’t be too much of an inconvenience for him as he doesn’t seem to lack pace.
Al Dasim has been in excellent form since coming over to Meydan, winning all three starts including a Group 3 over C&D on Super Saturday. The 3-year-old beat the older horse’s last time. In deeper but if he continues his improvement, he won’t be far away.
Ladies Church was returning for the first time since September when short head 2nd of 12 in a Group 2 here over the minimum trip last month. Must show she’s as good over 6f thought but if she is, then she’s sure to be in the mix.
Verdict: I like the booking of Ryan Moore for Sight Success but Al Dasim looks a progressive 3-year-old sprinter going places and he rates the selection although its not a race I will be having a bet in.
3:10 – Dubai Turf – 1m 1f
Lord North won this race two years ago and dead heated for first12 months ago. He proved his well-being for this when comfortably winning the Winter Derby at Lingfield 28 days ago.
Vin De Garde was a three 3 length runner-up to Lord North in 2021 and was a nose third in last year’s race. He’s been down the field in both subsequent starts, but this will have been the plan. Drawn out wide in stall 14 is a slight negative but his C&D form makes him of plenty of interest.
Serifos like Vin De Garde is another Japanese challenger with strong claims. The 4-year-old won a Grade 1 in Japan on his latest start and a reproduction of that performance would see him go close here. He has a handy low draw in stall 5 and races in the first time hood.
Real World was a big disappointment when only a 7 ½ length 10th of 14 in the Group 1 Jebel Hatta over C&D on Super Saturday. If he reproduced his 1 ¾ length 2nd of 7 to Baaeed in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot, he would be hard to keep out of the frame. However, he does have questions to answer after his lifeless run last time.
Nations Pride, fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf on his final start last season. He wasn't inconvenienced by the drop back to 1m 2f when winning a Group 3 here last month. He gave weight to his rivals that day. And provided they go a good gallop he got to have a good chance. Albeit he’s drawn out wide in stall 16.
Dubai Turf Verdict:
Last year's close up third Vin De Garde looks overpriced even out of stall 12. Another who looks a bit overpriced is Nations Pride but he’s drawn even wider in stall 14.
4:00 – Longines Dubai Sheema Classic – 1m 4f
Japanese challenger Equinox is a likely hot favourite. The 4-year-old has won his last two starts in Grade 1 company on good to firm ground. He’s only had six career starts so is capable of even better form than he’s shown so far.
Equinox’s biggest rival looks to be a fellow Japanese challenger Shahryar. The 5-year-old won last year’s race and ended last season with a ¾ length 2nd of 18 in the Japan Cup. Another big run can be expected from him here.
Westover probably found the ground plenty soft enough when a 7 ¼ length 6th of 20 in last season’s Arc. He’s better judged on last season’s win in the Irish Derby. He first time up last season so can go fresh. He should be there or thereabouts with Ryan Moore a good booking for the colt.
Rebel’s Romance completed a five timer back in Europe last season winning two Group 1’s in Germany before finishing this season with a career best when beating 12 rivals in the Breeders Cup Turf at Keeneland. Stall 10 could be better, but the gelding looks sure to go close.
Mostahdaf bounced back from a poor run in the Arc to win a Group 3 in Saudi Arabia (1m 2 ½ f) last month. The 5-year-old goes well on quick ground. Stays 1m 4f and isn’t without a chance.
Win Marilyn and Botanik were first and second in a Group 1 Hong Kong Vase in December. The runner-up had the run of the race that day. Win Marilyn did well to win given she had to make her effort from out wide in the straight. The mares’ connections will be disappointed if she can’t confirm form with the runner-up and she could be capable of even better.
Sheema Classic Verdict:
The race of the Meydan card for me. It highly likely that Equinox will turn out to be too strong for his nine rivals. However, at the prices I must take him on. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Westover bounce back to winning ways. Meanwhile last years’ winner Shahryar looks overpriced as does Rebel’s Romance.
After a great month and Cheltenham, I’ve really struggled this week. My form has taken a big nose dive and after yesterday I'm on a retrieval mission. The Dubai Turf provides today’s selection and it’s a big priced each way pick.
3:10 – Vin De Garde – 28/1 @ Bet365 (paying 4 places)
Good luck with your Saturday bets.