Our first race of the day sees sixteen scheduled to go to post and is a tricky nursery to decipher. Four of the runners arrive on the back of a win last time out and preference from these is for Majestic Manner. He won a maiden in impressive style at Lingfield in September, running on well and pulling away from the field in the final furlong. With Ryan Moore on board, a world class jockey who has a 24% strike rate when riding for William Haggas, she looks sure to be in the mix today.
Only Joking was an eight length maiden winner on soft ground in August but disappointed when upped in class on good ground last time out, weakening in the final furlong to come home last. A return to softer ground could bring a return to form today as long as the poor showing last month hasn’t dented her confidence too much.
At a likely bigger price, Escrick could be worth an each way bet. She finished behind East Coast Lady and Little Lady Katie last month but both have been well beaten since and Escrick has proven form on soft ground so could get the better of both today.
Majestic Manner (E/W if 5/1+)
The second race of the day is the Dubai Cornwallis stakes, a Group Three race for two year olds, where Strath Burn looks likely to head the market. He has only one win from three but performed with credit against a couple of potential superstars in Kool Kompany and Toocoolforschool in his last two races and has shown enough potential to be considered today.
Squats has a 50% win rate over todays’ race distance, beating the re-opposing Profitable twice before coming up short against another opponent in the shape of Accipiter in his last run. He could have the edge over both these today as both have shown their best form on firmer ground but a chance is taken on Moonraker.
The selection beat Mubtaghaa in a maiden on good-to-soft ground in May and although he hasn’t been able to follow up on this, he has been running on firmer ground since this win and a return to todays’ forecast softer ground could be the answer. Furthermore, jockey Richard Hughes has a 40% strike rate when riding for Mick Channon so his booking today could prove significant.
Race three sees Ivawood looking to keep his 100% win record intact. In each of his three career races so far he has opened up a clear advantage on the field and finished over four lengths clear of second on his last appearance in July. Despite the expected short odds, and providing he can perform to a similar level on soft ground after taking a couple of months off over the summer months, he should be tough to beat having already put both Jungle Cat and Muhaarer in their places on previous runs.
Capella Sansevero could prove to be a danger if any more rain arrives. He has been inconsistent on Good/Firm ground but has won three from four when the ground has had yielding or soft in the description.
Kool Kompany is another that needs to be respected, having won five races from eight this season. He was well beaten when last seen in August but that was in his sixth race within three months and could figure here if back to his best after a two month break.
With six of the seven scheduled runners for the Dubai Fillies Mile all arriving on the back of a win in their last run, our fourth live race looks a tough nut to crack. Lucida is the early favourite and steps up to a mile after previous successes over six and seven furlongs. She only went down by a neck to Cursory Glance last month, a great attempt considering Cursory Glance has only tasted defeat once and this was to Tiggy Wiggy. Despite this, she is a little short in the market for my liking for a horse unproven over todays’ trip and therefore is passed over today.
Agnes Stewart took the step up to a mile in her stride last time out, staying on strongly to finish over a length clear of second. I was impressed with her attitude and determination in this last race and at early odds of around 7/2 she seems a better value bet than the favourite.
A third horse to consider is the A P O’Brien trained Together Forever. She was an impressive winner at The Curragh last week and arrives here looking for a hat-trick of wins over todays’ race distance. She would need to improve again today but is in great form and would have been a decent each way consideration if there had been eight or more runners.
Agnes Stewart (WIN)
The final televised race of the day sees Estidhkaar a short priced favourite after the withdrawal of Gleneagles at the 48hour stage. He is three from three over todays’ trip and his most impressive performance came in his penultimate race, beating Aktabantay by over four lengths on good-to-soft ground. With similar conditions forecast today, he will be tough to beat.
The likely main danger to the favourite is Maftool, who has a recent win over course and distance under his belt and an overall record of a second and two wins from three attempts on turf. He has progressed nicely over the summer and the step up from six to seven furlongs seemed to suit perfectly last time out. If the favourite underperforms today then I think Maftool is the most likely to benefit.
Others to consider include Secret Brief and Smugglers Cove. Secret Brief is a multiple course and distance winner and arrives here looking to complete a four-timer but will have to show further improvement to get in the mix here, while Smugglers Cove returned a seven length winner at Dundalk last week and should be respected.
by Dean Kilbryde