Sloanne Avenue went desperately close to taking this last term having been handed a nightmare draw, a repeat effort would make him hard to beat but at the prices and with another stinking draw it will take all of Frankie’s magic to get him up. Marking has no draw worries and has the potential to be top drawer, he will likely go off a strong favourite and his pedigree is very appealing. There are issues with him however as he doesn’t like being in the stalls and has sat down in them before, despite that he is massively respected and probably wins if getting the trip. Maftool likes it here and has never been beaten over the C&D, he will likely play a part and his yard know how to land this. One Man Band is another to consider and his no nonsense from the front style of racing makes him very dangerous. Handed the plumb draw (Stall 1) he should take some pegging back and as he is genuine, tough and proven, he is handed the vote to pinch some place money.
One Man Band (E/W if 9/2+)
The race with the longest trip on the card in Dubai is the two mile Dubai Gold Cup, previous winners include the likes of Brown Panther and although this renewal looks classy it may not be the best quality field we’ve seen line up.
The current favourite is four year old Vazirabad who travels here from France on the back of five consecutive victories that culminated in a Group 1 victory at Saint Cloud. The horse clearly has talent and ability and although it’ll likely need to take another step up I feel this progressive four year old has what it takes to claim victory.
Of the remaining runners Andre Fabre’s Manatee has to be respected but a fifth placed finish behind the favourite doesn’t lead me to believe it can reverse the form of their previous meeting.
Big Orange is a horse that always has a big race in them but I don’t feel it’s today.
The two horses that I feel pose the biggest threat is what looks to be Godolphin’s second string Haafaguinea and also the oldest horse in the race Star Empire. Haafaguinea shaped as if a step up to two miles will definitely suit and any horse accompanied by the blue silks of Godolphin has to be respected at this meeting.
The aforementioned Star Empire has a previous victory at Meydan before and always seems to put his best foot forward. The ultra consistent Mike De Kock horse has a great chance in a relatively weak renewal and despite being in the twilight of his career it wouldn’t surprise me if he sneaked a place.
Polar River is unbeaten in 4 career starts and has the luxury of being bred in the Northern Hemisphere which gives here a pull in the weights with main rival Vale Dori. The pair locked horns the last day over C&D and with no obvious reason for that form to be overturned she really ought to go in again. Most of the other are very difficult to fancy but Frank Conversation is an eye catcher for EW players. Fairly impressive at Golden Gate Fields the last time she is clearly improving and represents a very strong trainer, she deserves the main danger tag but will likely have to produce a clear career best to overturn the favourite.
Polar River (WIN)
The marquee sprint contest on the card takes the limelight with big named sprinters from all over the world lining up to scoop this Group 1.
Sole Power is a permanent fixture in races like this and rightly so, this multiple Group 1 winner on his day has been one of the best sprinters around in the past ten years but now at the ripe old age of nine its best days look far behind and although I still think it deserves a place at the top sprinting table it is far from the certainty it once was and the 7/1 price currently available seems pretty short.
The favourite is the impressive Ertijaal. A course and distance winner who hasn’t been touched in its last four races. At a venue the horse relishes I think the 7/2 price seems overly generous and it’s worth taking for a horse I feel won’t find too much trouble in this.
Of the remaining runners Jungle Cat, Peniaphobia and Lady Shipman are the three I feel will contest the minor placings. The two American trained runners have great chances and seem mightily consistent and as always Godolphins course winner seems very overpriced at 20/1
Reyanldothewizard isn’t getting any younger and has a bit to find with the re-opposing Rich Tapestry on his run here last month. Almost certain to be outpaced early his shocking looking draw is unlikely to be an issue and he does love it here. A former winner of this he will need them to go off a real clip but they look likely to and for that reason he is taken to mow most of them down late on and grab us some place money at double figure odds. X Y Jet is a first ever runner here for his yard but arrives here on the back of six straight wins. The strength of that form is hard to weigh up and he has had issues at the start of quite a few of his races, another type who could be anything he probably deserves to be favourite but he has to be considered risky at the prices. Confrontation represents powerful connections and is likely to be flying at the death, he could well catch them but he only got up late over a mile last time and couldn’t be given for win purposes at this trip on the back of that. Muarrab looks best when leading but broke the track record here last time, he faces stiff competition for the lead today however and it could pay to go with a closer.
Godolphin look to hold a very strong hand in this and likely favourite Tryster is sure to be popular despite his form looking a tad suspect. Only workmanlike in seeing off an inferior opponents last time he has enough to prove against a few of these and his odds offer little value. Connections other runner, Very Special is rather uncomplicated and likes to lead. She has a shocking draw today but is clearly smart and gives her owners a strong looking hand. Gabrial is likely to go off an unconsidered outsider despite being a fine third to Solow in a Group 1 at Ascot when last seen. That form may not be entirely trustworthy as a few bombed but he was finishing strongly that day despite being well beaten. Up in trip today he is no good thing to repeat that effort but with a strong early pace looking likely, he is handed a most speculative each way vote. Farrier is currently trading at 50/1 despite running Tryster to under a couple of lengths last time. Again that form may flatter him but considering the favourite is under 2/1, a few will likely take a chance at the odds. Intilaaq was re-routed to this after connections learned of Solow’s absence, that in itself suggests connections think he can win and so the decision to come is most appealing. Proven on the ground and unexposed this looks a big year for him but like the favourite, he is plenty short enough despite looking a likely sort.
The race with the second biggest prize fund on offer is the Dubai Sheema Classic. The appetiser to the big one The Dubai World Cup we see the former classic types take to the turf for this twelve furlong race.
Ballydoyle saddle the globe trotting Highland Reel who, at the age of four, has won two Group 1 races outside of Europe and bids to make it three from three tonight. However after a long break a lot is taken on trust that the Ryan Moore ridden horse will be match fit for this. The horse is clearly a classy type but its odds seem to skinny with that sort of a question mark over its head.
Japan send a horse into this with a very game chance. Duramente is a lightly raced four year old that literally could be anything. It’s hard to equate Japanese form and be able to compare it to form shown in Europe is a mightily tough task. Although I feel it’s a progressive type it may have bitten off more than it can chew here.
I have to side with the favourite, the way Postponed demolished its rivals last time out when making its seasonal reappearance was nothing short of sublime. The horse will have likely needed that run and is probably going to strip even fitter today. Roger Varian has worked wonders and should be saddling the winner in this.
American superstar California Chrome suffered a shock defeat in this last season and has been targeted at winning it ever since. Very short in the betting again today he has every chance though his last G1 dirt victory was gained almost two years ago. Drawn in 11 connections will be praying he gets a smooth passage, if he does he ought to win but the odds offer very limited appeal despite this looking fairly weak. Frosted is a talented enigmatic type, impressive her last time he looks likely to be up with the pace and has to be considered very interesting. The dampener with him is that the re-opposing Keen Ice beat him in August and once again the odds make little sense. Both horses have a chance if on song but with such confusion at the odds another risk will be taken and once again it will be on a European challenger. Vadamos has only had the four starts for master French trainer Andre Fab, impressive when hammering a bunch of milers in Germany his trainer openly stated he thought the horse was ‘top class’ and that he could be a ‘champion’. Whether or not is he champion material he is a most interesting runner for a yard whom have only ever had two runners in the race. Proven at the trip and over further he will have to improve to win but he is a big enough price and he is handed the vote to prove his trainers comments right.