What a Star…

It’s been a long time since we posted anything here, but we just had to share this!

Talk about an impressive debut, the horse breaks slowly, gives up a good 5 lengths to the field at one point before turning the bend to do the final 400m in 21.2 seconds and the final 200m in 10.7 seconds. For those that pay attention to the sectionals, they will be rightly impressed by that. If the 3yo can rid itself of his obvious quirks (he wore blinkers, hood and tongue tie so clearly the tardy start would have come as no surprise to connections), he could be a dangerously quick horse. One to keep an eye on as a possible Meydan runner for Hong Kong?

 

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MeydanChinaUK – 22/01/15

After all the talk surrounding Mike De Kock, it was inevitable last week that he would bag a winner on the dirt. He almost managed it in the first with Ad Idem, in the end being beaten a short head by the favourite Local Time, before eventually picking up the 4th race, the 2000 Guineas trial, with Mubtaahij (as well as training the second in the race Ajwad).

This week, we’ve got some fine looking races, as well as a nightmare handicap to end the card which we won’t be getting involved in.

*Prices available at time of publishing*

2:45

This week opens with a 1,200 metre (6f) sprint on the dirt, and where better to start than with De Kock’s runner, Merhee. He had a comeback run to blow away the cobwebs 2 weeks ago, finishing in mid-division after leading for most of the race before finding little and finishing one-paced. Given he had been off the track since March of last year, we can’t complain with the performance (a head behind Tawhid, G3 winner at 2), and while he may offer a decent each way bet, for the win purposes there may be at least one too good.

Speed Hawk also ran on the card a fortnight ago, and while the form shows 8th of 10, he was less than 5 lengths off the winner, Hototo. Also involved in that race were the likes of Ahtoug (2nd in the Al Quoz Sprint last year) and Saayerr, and with the change to a dirt surface today is likely to be of benefit to Robert Cowell’s colt. The distance may be a question mark, but the horse won over 6 at Wolverhampton and I think it will suit.

The final horse that interested me is bottom weight, Touch Gold. He finished 6th here last week, in the listed race won by Reynaldothewizard, and as with Merhee, that was his first run since March as well. He can run from the front, or just behind the leaders, which is important on this dirt track, has won both here (over 6 on Tapeta) and at Jebel Ali (7f on dirt) last year when completing a hattrick. Looking at last weeks form, he finished ahead of Almargo (behind Merhee the week prior) and Caspian Prince (who was 3rd in Speed Hawk’s race 2 weeks ago). 7 furlongs may be Touch Gold’s optimum distance, but form shows he can handle the surface and the distance, and this is a class relief from last week’s race. I’ve given Touch Gold (15/2) a slight edge over Speed Hawk with Merhee back in 3rd.

3:20

A selection in this is likely to centre around the handicap won by I’m Back a fortnight ago. Henry Clay was a length second in that race, the 3rd, Le Bernardin, came back to win last week, with Busker (4th), Dragon Falls (5th) and Torchlighter (6th) all in behind. Even more interestingly, Almoonqith was 10th in this race and won at a local event at Meydan on Saturday, so the form from that race is worth following.

Having said that, I think there may be a possibility of Henry Clay being overturned by one of those in behind on that race. Dragon Falls and Torchlighter both were having their first runs of the winter, the latter off since July and the former since October. Busker was having his second run, having ran in December when ahead of Le Bernardin that day, but Henry Clay was having his fourth outing since November, so had race fitness over the majority of those in behind a fortnight ago. I fancy Dragon Falls will come on for the run, but of those in behind, I feel Busker will be the one to take out of it.

However, there are others to take into consideration here, not least an old favourite of mine in Tha’ir. He was a winner here on the Tapeta last year, has had some time off the track, and has ran well off an extended break in the past. Saeed bin Suroor and James Doyle had a double on the cards last week, and I like the look of Tha’ir (8/1) in this tough looking handicap to run a good race, possibly at a decent price.

The other horse that interests is Energia Fox for Marco Botti. He has been running at Lingfield over the winter, so will come here race fit, but there are question marks as to how he will deal with the travelling, with the majority of these having had the time to acclimatise already, whereas Paul Hanagan’s mount was racing at Lingfield less than 3 weeks ago.

4:30

Steeler is an old notebook horse, but has failed to add to his 2 year old wins which promised so much. There’s still time for him to fulfill the early potential shown, and has been far from disgraced in defeat last year after missing the 2013 season. The big question is if you would be willing to back him at 5/1, given over 2 years has passed since his last win, and for me the answer is unfortunately not.

Disa Leader is another horse on a long losing run, stretching back to 2011, while stablemate Umgiyo (Soumillon’s first choice) is lightly raced from South Africa, but hasn’t done enough yet against this field.

The one runner with solid form here in UAE is Pilote (7/2), who finished 3rd on debut here for his new connections in a listed contest. These same connections also ran Mr Pommeroy last week (a horse with similar French Group form to Pilote), who I believe would have won had Barzalona not dropped his whip heading for home, and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum has been spending big on his stable over the winter and has built up some good looking horses for this year’s carnival – and Pilote is definitely near the head of that list. At 7/2 there’s no each-way play there, but certainly some value on form shown.

The other horse that interests is Our Channel (13/2) for William Haggas, who was a half length second to Glory Awaits in a Group 2 in Turkey last time out. He had Toormore and Belgian Bill in behind that day, and could take another step forward as a 4 year old. The horse has good turf form, including another half length second in the American Derby at Arlington and some good handicap performances in the UK, and has a top trainer and jockey on board. He offers the each-way play in the race for me, and the forecast might be worth a shout as well in this one.

Other Races

In the big race of the meeting, the Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort, Mike De Kock is triple-barrelled in his assault on a race he has won six times (including the past 3 renewals) as well as 4 runner ups. Last year’s winner Anaerobio goes well first up, while the trainer himself has been bigging up Red Ray – a horse with some good South African form. I question if it warrants the current 5/2 favouritism, however, and the trainer’s comments aren’t always to be taken at face value – just last week he claimed Ad Idem wasn’t quite fully fit before running a career best. With that in mind, I have an interest in Zahee (11/1). He finished 5th in the Al Maktoum Challenge R2 last year, sandwiched between 2 solid runs over this distance at the carnival, and was clearly one of those that didn’t enjoy the new dirt surface when he ran 2 weeks ago. That run might turn out to be a useful way of dusting off the cobwebs before taking this one at big odds (11/1).

Some other horses that could be of interest for each-way value on the card are Jalaa (14/1)  for the useful Doug Watson yard in the 3:55 and Limario for the same yard and jockey combo in the 5:05 (available at best priced 12/1 with Paddy Power, and 11/1 with William Hill). Jalaa has had the one run, back in December at Jebel Ali, and with the assumption this was designed purely to remove the cobwebs, the horse is well drawn to go to the front (something it loves to do) a tactic that has been seen to good effect so far on the new dirt track. Meanwhile Limario runs in the same race as the infamously frustrating to back Tamarkuz (currently best price 7/2 fav). Limario has no dirt pedigree, no previous experience, so is likely to be overlooked, but given Doug Watson has a dirt track at his stables, he wouldn’t be entered unless he takes to it. His form from last year’s carnival is enough to be positive about and the price makes it a worthwhile risk in my opinion. Particularly as a double with William Hill on Jalaa and Limario pays a whopping 180/1 – well worth an each-way punt.

Top Tips
NAP: Pilote 7/2
NB: Touch Gold 15/2
IWAC: Tha’ir 8/1
IWAC: Zahee 11/1
RFC: Pilote/Our Channel
Each-Way Double: Jalaa/Limario 180/1

Good luck to those that are having a bet, let me know how you get on @greglarmouth

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MeydanChinaUK – 15/01/15

The carnival season has returned to Dubai (this being the second week of official World Cup Carnival fixtures after some warm-up events for local horses) and the drama has already begun. South African trainer Mike De Kock has been critical of the new dirt surface which has controversially replaced the Tapeta, primarily in response to criticism from Godolphin supremo H.H Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. De Kock has played down his comments as “sensationalism” from media and punters alike. The furore has been further fuelled this week by him fielding 3 horses on the dirt at today’s meeting, including Ad Idem in the 1000 Guineas Trial that opens proceedings.

*Please note no prices available at time of publishing, based on predictions*

2:45

The opener couldn’t be much more competitive, with 3 Godolphin runners, as well as the aforementioned Ad Idem for De Kock in the colours of Sheikh Hamdan. First of all we will look at Ad Idem, who has only had the 2 runs, a maiden win and a 3rd in South African Group 2. The filly could be anything, something which can be attributed to a few here, but the horse has been off the track since April, with even the trainer stating “she is not as fit as she should be”, and the form isn’t holding out much hope from either race.

Local Time gets James Doyle on board, having won her last 3 and the last 2 with this jockey, the latter being a Group 3 at Newmarket in October. Looking at the negatives, she only won by a neck, and none of the horses in behind in that race have went on to win (though there have been so decent runs in behind, including Prize Exhibit at the Breeders Cup meeting), but at expected short prices, it might be worth looking elsewhere. Stablemate Comedy Queen produced a win on debut (her sole run to date; 2nd has won since) with the time slightly slower than that of Local Time over the same C&D, but improvement is to be expected between September and now, and in my opinion has the best jockey in William Buick on board (20% on 3 year olds in last 5 years). The third and final Godolphin inmate is Good Place, last seen tailed off in a Group 1 at Newmarket. This is a drop in class and trip, and the lack of racing room, as well as slower ground, could easily be excuses for a horse that has very close form lines with Local Time. The big question mark is whether we’ve seen enough to convince yet, and I’m happy to watch her for now.

Runner Runner came 2nd in a Listed contest in Germany when last seen on the track in October, but has had plenty of chances and so far only managed to win a very average Wolverhampton maiden. Favorina finished over 80 lengths behind the winner on debut on New Years Eve over this track, and it will take beyond mere miracles to see her improve enough to feature. The 2 newcomers offer little appeal, and neither does the Norwegian Icecapada, so for me it’s going to be a Godolphin 1-2 in Comedy Queen over Local Time.

3:55

An interesting race, aimed at those horses on the periphery of a bigger carnival handicap, there are a few horses in this likely to attract attention. The first of these is Knavery. Formerly with Roger Varian, now with Simon Crisford, formerly racing manager for Godolphin, Qatar Racing will be hoping to make an impression at this years carnival. The horse is lightly raced, with all four career runs coming last year as a 3 year old and the debut over 7f the only win to date. I suspect the horse could run a solid race, but is by no means a sure thing.

Doug Watson has been in good form at Dubai so far this year, and his 2 runners in this, both on level weights today, are of interest for differing reasons. The first is Jeeraan, who won at Al Ain in February last year for today’s jockey Paul Hanagan. The horse failed to deal with the step up in class next time out the following month, but hasn’t been seen since, so it’s possible that something was amiss then. The horse is still lightly-raced and guaranteed to appreciate the dirt track. The other Watson horse has been off the track even longer, last seen with MJR at Southwell on New Years Day last year when second to Masterful Act. That form is of a decent standard, and given that the horse can stay further, this could be a good tune up race for the horse, but could also pull it out of the bag before possibly moving on to something better. I’ll give Layl a shout to overcome Knavery, who I expect to also go on to better things.

Of the others, Street Act and Shihab have been performing well in local events, but may struggle with the better quality of opponent, the same also applies to Asatir who concedes weight to all, while Stormadal is also likely high enough in the weights despite showing decent form here in the UK and is sure to love the dirt based on pedigree.

5:05

A really nice looking handicap with plenty of familiar faces. Ottoman Empire is a regular at Meydan, and had a winner and a place early in the Carnival last year, before failing to deal with the step up to Group 1 level and beat only one home in the listed race here in December when he failed to get going. Bottom weight So Beautiful was highly fancied 2 years ago when entered in the Jebel Hatta Group 1, but has failed to reach anything near those sorts of heights so far in his career.

El Estruendoso makes a rapid return to the track after the “non event” on the dirt last week. Regardless of this, it is still a tall order for the horse to come back so soon, given he had been off the track since February last year, and the trainer himself feels the horse isn’t well handicapped. Stablemate Star Empire is another Carnival patron, and while he has competed at a high level, his last victory was just under 2 years ago, and he remains 8lbs higher in the weights than that day.

Mr Pommeroy has competed some top quality races in France, so this is a huge drop in class for a horse beaten just over 5 lengths by The Grey Gatsby and a length more by Noble Mission. At only 4 years old, he still has time to fulfill the obvious potential shown, and is really well handicapped on level weights with Sennockian Star from the MJR stable. With Silvestre De Sousa in top form so far at the track, it’s hard to rule out anything coming from Mark Johnston, who has an unbelievable knack for eeking out that little bit extra from a horse. The other horse in the race that interests me is Haafaguinea, a 2 length second to Cat O’Mountain last carnival, a horse that went on to be 3rd in the World Cup race, and more impressive still, Haafaguinea was giving The Cat 2lbs that day.

The hardest part of this race is to pick one out, but for me Mr Pommeroy is the most appealing from a value angle, with Haafaguinea very close behind and Sennockian Star stealing a place in 3rd.

Other Races

Some other horses that could be of interest for each-way value on the card are Beyond Empire for David Simcock in the 3:20 and Volatile, ridden by Paul Hanagan in the 4:30.

Top Tips
NAP: Comedy Queen
NB: Layl
IWAC: Mr Pommeroy
IWAC: Sennockian Star
Each-Way Double: Beyond Empire/Volatile

Good luck to those that are having a bet, let me know how you get on @greglarmouth

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MeydanChinaUK DWCC Special Week 6!

Another week of fantastic racing in the UAE, and the quality of the racing is really beginning to heat up now, with three G3 races today, including the Firebreak and UAE 2000 Guineas.

2:45

The opener of this weeks racing is a nice looking handicap, with plenty of chances. Layali Al Andalus (12/1) has come 2nd on 2 occasions already at the festival, the most recent a good run finishing a head behind Windhoek, and is only up 2lb for that. While many will see that and the fact he suffered a slow start in the race and come to the assumption he’s a good bet, and he may well be, but the fact the horse covered significantly less ground than the winner is a question mark in a tough race.

A horse that we are more keen on is Godolphin Tha’ir (8/1), who had a solid run when fourth after a long lay-off, fading at the end of that race. Regular jockey De Sousa remains on board, and at the price, we’ve got to keep the faith in a notebook horse. The sire has already produced a winner on this surface, and I’m confident the horse will take well to the tapeta.

3:20

Another very open race, with the two Appleby and bin Suroor runners attracting a lot of attention. In particular, many peoples focus appears to be on the Godolphin pair, both coming over from Australia and both making their first appearance on the tapeta. Most interesting of the 4 from the respective yards is Safety Check (12/1), who looked set to win the trial race before finding more traffic than 5 O’clock on the M4. From stall 1, the horse may find a similar issue if not given a smart ride, but William Buick is usually a clever and patient jockey to have on board. More interesting to me is Hanagan’s mount Full Combat (7/1). That horse got going all too late in the same race, but did well to finish fifth, and ran the fastest final 200 metres. The trainer always expected him to come on for the extra distance, and further progress should also be expected after that race. It’s between the two for me, as I’m unwilling to take the risk on the lead pair in the market.

4:30

The favourite in this has won 14 of his 19 starts in South Africa, and at (11/4), Variety Club may well be seen as value. Unless you’re up on your South African form, and can confidently say he’s facing no tougher competition than previously here, however, I’d advice to look at some value options instead.

For me, the best bet of this race is Fulbright, who we backed on opening night of the DWCC and duly delivered at a price. The former Mark Johnston inmate is (8/1) for this, which is a similar price to he was on that night, and I have confidence in him being stepped back up in trip today after failing to impress in a G2 lto. Both Jamesie and Mont Ras have followed up to frank the form of that win, so value is the course of the day in this race, at 8/1 on a horse that finished 2nd in this last year.

5:45

The final race of the 6 race card, and it’s top weight Meandre that is most interesting for us in a big field handicap. The horse has some excellent European Group form, landing four G1s in Germany and France. The horse ran in the Dubai World Cup last year, so racing over 1m2f wouldn’t have suited when 3rd behind Ralston Road in December over here. He will come on for that run, and facing lesser company, (10/1) offers excellent value for money in this race.

Top Tips
NAP: Fulbright
NB: Meandre
IWAC: Tha’ir
Forecast Bet: Safety Check/Full Combat (RFC)

Good luck to those that are having a bet, let me know how you get on @greglarmouth

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MeydanChinaUK – Week 5

Another week of the Meydan festival, this week is a bad of a madcap effort for the blog, as I’m currently writing this I’m on a 3 hour car journey to Manchester studying form guides.
So this will be a basic look at the races and the selections. Unlike last week, I’ve not picked one in every race, with the extended seven race card this week.

3:15
A horse we picked up on a couple of weeks back at a price was Alraihjan and having watched the race twice now, I’m quietly confident that the horse wasn’t over-awed on the surface or in the company. Assuming William Buick can ensure the horse doesn’t miss the kick again, or at least not so severely, then I can see some decent e/w value from the horse in this.

3:50
Figure of Speech is likely to go off a warm price, and with good reason in fairness. If available at a price near 4/1 I’d recommend lapping it up as it probably won’t last. For a more outside chance at longer odds, debutant Salvadori is an early entry for the Investec Derby, so is well thought of by connections somewhere, and is related to numerous winners first time out, and even more winning early in their careers. He’s starting off in difficult company, but if he’s to fulfill the promise that warranted that Derby entry, he might as well start as he means to go on.

4:25
Another big price horse, I’ve opted for Feedyah in this. The horse nothing if not impressive when winning on A/W debut back here in UK. He was in Godolphin colours then, but doesn’t today. Expect big prices. For the preliminaries in the race, it looks to be a tight affair, with my preference of the Godolphin riders being Ihtimal.

In the penultimate race, it’s another open affair, and Godolphin are stacked with possibilities. Donning 3rd choice silks is William Buick on Hunter’s Light, but generally speaking the jockey choices and silks mean little when it comes to Godolphin, particularly over at Meydan. Another interesting runner in the Godolphin blue is Artigiano, who was picked up by the blog a couple of weeks back, while Heavy Metal is also worth a check, but I wouldn’t be confident enough to select anyone in this.

In the final race of the day, El Estruendo looks the most likely, and is another selection from a previous week. Depending on the price, however, it may be worth leaving that race alone as well.

As always, good luck @greglarmouth

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MeydanChinaUK Special – DWCC Week 4!

Last week was swiftly dodged on here, and judging by the results, it was a decision well made.

This week I’ve got high hopes for a few big selections, with full analysis of all 6 races at this weeks Carnival meeting. So let’s get to it:

2:40

There’s 2 stand-out horses in this race in my opinion. The first worth a mention is Merhee (7/2 Bet365) who was impressive when almost defying top weight last week. South African horses tend to come on for their first run, so Mike de Kock’s 6yo coming within a length of Jamesie last week is difficult to ignore. He should be more suited by this trip and track also, and only raised 2lb he goes on the shortlist.

The other horse catching the eye is Ahtoug (6/1 Bet365), from the Charlie Appleby yard. The horse has won 5 times over the minimum distance, including his C&D victory here three weeks ago. That was the 6yo’s first run after 152 days off the track, so improvement is likely forthcoming, and the 6lb looks manageable. The horse has previous experience of the Carnival, this being his third year here, but this is the first time he’s ran more than once in any carnival, so connections must be pleased with what they’re seeing at home. The rest are far from out of this, but may have a bit to find on the two primary’s in the market.

3:15

Ottoman Empire (5/1 Bet365) stands out as being the most value in what’s looking an open affair. He was a neck behind Layali Al Andalus in third place three weeks ago, and given that horse followed it up with a 2nd behind Windhoek (a favourite of mine last year) last week, it looks good for Satish Seemar’s 8yo gelding.

String Theory does best when taking up the running, but it may not suit tactically in this race with others also inclined to run on. Clon Brulee’s sixth last time out is better than the bare form suggests, as he covered 16 metres more than todays selection in that race. Aforementioned Layali Al Andalus and El Estruendo (our selection that day) also covered extra ground, and both followed up with 2nds next time out, so what chance lightning striking a third time? Clon Brulee definitely has a good chance at best price 4/1 (William Hill, Paddy Power, Bet Victor) but I’m willing to stick my neck out on the more experience Ottoman Empire, who won at the third attempt in last years World Cup Carnival, to go one better this year, with Clon Brulee next best in the race.

3:50

Certify is sure to go off a very short price, so those interested should definitely look to take the early price of 7/4 (Bet Victor). I won’t be one of them, however.

After missing a full year, Certify clearly has some outstanding form, in particular against Sky Lantern, but none of her stablemates also affected by a 6 month ban imposed on the yard have managed to return fully tuned, with Steeler probably one of the most impressive in finishing 4th in the Al Maktoum Challenge – Round 1.

Flotilla won the French 1000 Guineas, following on from a success at the Breeders’ Cup, but failed to do anything in her 2 runs since that. Legitimate excuses were had for both of those, however, including returning with a bruised foot after her last race when conditions didn’t suit. While many will be wary of her needing the run, she’ll need it less so than Certify, surely, and will have conditions firmly in her favour in this one. Available at best price 5/2 (Bet365) I’m always inclined to seek the value.

4:25

This is probably the most difficult of the 6 races to pick from. Murfarrh is interesting, despite top weight, but is likely suited by a longer trip than this. Tamarkuz wears first string colours for Sh. Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum’s horses, but this is much tougher than the win at Kempton in October. Zahee looks good for the Mike De Kock yard, having been involved in better races than this at last years carnival, but the niggling question that remains is whether this is just a pipe-opener dropped in trip. At best odds of 7/2 (Paddy Power) I’m thinking outside the box in this one.

Eastern Rules’ trainer, Michael Halford, has already notched his first winner of the Carnival, and although the horse faces a big step up in class today, he’s rarely far from the front at the finish, and with 3-6 on the AW, odds of 6/1 (Bet365) seem a generous e/w offer, particularly with William Hill going a lowly 4/1 for the same horse.

5:00

Okay maybe I was wrong, this is the most difficult to pick from today. Where to begin seperating these? Steeler was awesome first time up 3 weeks ago. Fallon is up, and has won on him before. Stablemate Maputo was selected over him by first-choice jockey Barzalona, though trainer Appleby has admitted the Frenchman found it a tough choice (and we can sympathise). Tasaday would prefer soft ground, but still comes into the reckoning on the basis of close form with Dalkala and Treve in France, and like Maputo will probably go from the front. And finally Mushreq, from the De Kock yard, who won the Singspiel Stakes Listed race last time out. The runner up, Gabrial, went on to win last week, quickly franking the form, and the horse avoids a penalty despite winning the Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort last year, which only adds to the list. Finally, the yard has won this race five times, including the last 2 renewals, so at the best odds of 7/2 (William Hill) it’s impossible to ignore really. If like me you want an e/w bet to throw something on too, I’d pick Steeler’s run last time out as eye-catching enough to warrant some good value e/w betting with Ladbrokes offering 7/1.

5:35

The final race of the day, and you guessed it, another difficult one to pick from. Haafaguinea is the market-leader, and difficult to argue against it too. He made a good start to the carnival with a solid attempt 2l behind Cat O’Mountain, a horse I massively fancied to win a fortnight ago. A worry is the drop back to 1m2f, when he looked to need every yard of the 1m3f in the previously mentioned race here. With that in mind, I wouldn’t be confident to take the 7/2 available generally.

Chapter Seven looks intriguing, having conceded a stone to Silvestre de Sousa’s mount in a handicap at Newbury in September, when only beaten 3/4 of a length that day. He was 8th and behind Aussie Reigns when returning from 2 months off last time out, but was previously 3rd in the Group 3 Darley Stakes, and should strip fitter for that last run.

Another horse to run in that race at Newbury was Saxo Jack, who finished about a length further back in 4th. That was only his fourth start, and the horse has changed yards since that race, returning 6th behind Cat O’Mountain in the same race mentioned at the beginning. He was a long way off Cat O’Mountain, but may have hit the front too soon that day before staying on, and with close form ties in a big field, I’d recommend Saxo Jack (6/1 Bet365) and Chapter Seven (20/1 Ladbrokes) as two very viable e/w bets in an open closing race.

Top Tips
NAP: Mushreq
NB: Flotilla
IWAC: Chapter Seven
Forecast Bet: Ahtoug/Merhee (RFC)

Good luck to those that are having a bet, let me know how you get on @greglarmouth

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MeydanChinaUK Special – Week 2

It’s week 2 of Meydan’s Dubai World Cup Carnival, and last week started off to a flyer with Fulbright winning well at SP 8/1!! Unfortunately we couldn’t follow this up with any further winners, but there were certainly some positives to take, and more importantly some lessons to be learned from the last week’s meeting.

Meydan – 2:30

The opening race of this weeks 6 race meeting, and for me there’s only one horse that interested me. Not usually one for backing a favourite, Cat O’Mountain (3/1) stands out as head and shoulders above the rest for me, and only needs to show his best to win this one. William Hill offered a sumptuous 3/1 for a matter of minutes before dropping it to 11/4. I was lucky enough to make the early odds, but even at 11/4 you’ve got to be interested. He’s unbeaten on the all-weather, and won 2 over this distance, so 11/4 seems a very fair price indeed. At a bigger price, I’d recommend Ralston Road (10/1) as an e/w shout, purely on the basis of a very solid winning run LTO.

Meydan – 3:05

The UAE 1000 Guineas Trial race, this could pull out a shock in my opinion, with Godolphin pair Wedding Ring and Autumn Lily heading the market. I might go on to eat my words ( à la 4:50 here last week when writing off the majority of the field incorrectly), but for me, these 2 are very beatable horses. The latter has already suffered 2 set backs from the 5 races so far. The former hasn’t really done anything wrong, and has some decent wins under her belt, but at a best price 9/4, I’m happy to take her on with something a little bit out of left field.

Letterfromamerica (25/1) has only had the 3 races, winning the last of these, but is very well bred, being a half-sister to 2013 Breeders’ Cup Marathon winner London Bridge among others. Given the good pace, both in breeding and in her most recent 2 races, it would be no surprise to see Tadhg O’Shea make all, and could be worth an each way punt at the price.

Meydan – 4:15

Another old favourite of mine, the Godolphin colt Tha’ir (6/1) is an old notebook horse of mine, and was running in some very big races here in the UK as a 2 and 3 year old. His 2yo form is closely tied to stablemate Artigiano, who of course did excellently to finish 3rd last week on his first outing after 432 days off the track, and we can only hope that Tha’ir is equally wound up for this.

He’s far from a flawless selection, but it’s always a bad idea to ignore a notebook horse, and I’m hoping Tha’ir can emulate Fulbright, who did so well for me last week, particularly as he’s so far down the weights in this. The only other horse that stood out to me in this, and could well grab a place, is So Beautiful (12/1) under former-Champion Jockey, Paul Hanagan. The horse only managed 2 places from 5 runs at the carnival last year, but these were in much better company than this race. The horse has since been gelded, and will certainly be winning one of these at the carnival this year, but not necessarily this one. Having said that, rule him out at your peril for this one.

Meydan – 4:50

The head of the market is filled with the re-match between Reynaldothewizard, Krypton Factor, Balmont Mast and United Colour. Beyond those 4, however, the big danger has got to be Rafeej (11/1) who returns to a more preferential surface having been seen on the grass last week. The horse has had two solid runs on the Tapeta, including beating Tamaathul over C&D on the 19th December, and trainer Al Muhaira is in good form so far this year, so you could do a lot worse at the price. Russian Soul (12/1) is another worth consideration, given his decent form in Ireland over the summer, but the solidity of that form, and whether it can be transferred over to a presumably fast-paced race today is up for debate, and he may well just set this one up for a fast finisher to steal it in the final furlong.

Good luck if you’re having a flutter, and be sure to get in touch if you have any winners @greglarmouth

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