This Saturday we will have a great appetizer before the Dubai World Cup. The so-called Super Saturday consists of six group races amongst them two group ones. There is no reason to be overly excited about the quality of racing. It is a solid day, but you won’t find many world-class horses here today. What you will find is strong fields with a lot of runners and plenty of good betting opportunities. Why don’t we start from the beginning?
Dubai City of Gold (Gr.2) 12 f (turf)
The Dubai City of Gold will take the 14 runners a lap around the track and the winner will receive a cheque for 150 000 dollars. Over this distance and on this wide track the draw won’t matter much, but please notice that the program number doesn’t correspond with the draw.
The favorite is one of the four Godolphin runners, 6 Kemari (Dubawi) currently available at 10/3. Trained by Charlie Appelby and with James Doyle in the irons he should make a bold bid with Rebel’s Romance out of the race. Kemari hasn’t won since June 2021 (Queen’s Vase, Gr.2). He was entitled to need the run two weeks ago when he couldn’t resist a couple of challengers after going to the lead with three furlongs to go. Still it was a rather dull impression and he can be taken on with stable mate 5 Global Storm (Night of Thunder) who came third in this last year and goes well fresh. Both of Godolphin’s best runners might struggle to fend off the challenge of 10 Senor Toba (Toronado). This grey gelding from Hong Kong is the highest-rated horse in the field and he will be racing prominently and will have an excellent chance of passing the leaders in the stretch. Senor Toba is 9/2 at the moment.
Burj Nahaar (Gr.3) 1m (dirt)
Over this distance on the dirt track, it is important to get a good position. Starting from a chute you will have to show early pace so you can have a good position before the bend. When you come to the stretch it is only a fast two furlongs left of the race.
The inexplicable favorite is 4 Discovery Island (Dubawi) at 9/2. He is drawn in stall 9 and was a huge disappointment last time out as a beaten favorite. The jockey reported that Discovery Island was unhappy with the kick-back. Good luck avoiding that here. 5 Royal Mews (Siyouni) is a course and distance winner and was narrowly beaten by Golden Goal two weeks ago. He is a very consistent runner and it would be a surprise if he is not on the podium from stall 5 and with William Buick in the irons. He will probably be shorter on the Tote than the 11/2 you can find now. Altough I like Royal Mews I will take my chances elsewhere. The course and distance Champion 14 Secret Ambition (Exceed and Excel) is 10-years old and not as good as he once was. From stall three he is able to lead this for a long while if he wishes. 6/1 is fair. At a price, I really fancy 10 On The Warpath (Declaration of War) who was aggressively ridden last time out and almost held on. Stall six should be ideal and if he will be able to dictate this time he could spring a surprise at 33/1.
Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint (Gr.3) 6f (turf)
This race is run over a straight, ligne droite, no bends, 1200 meters, six furlongs, call it what you want. Niels Petersen already has shown that he can ready his horses for Meydan and I think that 5 Could Be King (Bated Breath) will relish the conditions and maybe get a piece of the prize money. 16 Al Dasim (Harry Angel) comes with four straight wins and has really impressed here at very short odds. His rating has gone from 90 to 106 and the confusing part is actually that you can have him at 6/4. Under Barzalona he has won with something in hand and it is hard to see him lose here. But… if you compare his 1.09.78 with 3 City Walk (Brazen Beau) who won in 1.09.82 you can see that City Walk could go close. Add that City Walk carried 9st 7lb versus Al Dasim’s 8st 9lb and the 13/2 available for City Walk looks more than reasonable.
Al Bastakiya (L) 1m 1 1/2f (dirt)
Ami Please (Goldencents) came from the States to almost capture the UAE Oaks. She is very fast from the gate and should be forwardly ridden despite her bad draw in post 11. She will get four pounds from the boys and though she is vulnerable to an improving youngster (this is for three-year-olds) she should win this. It is the best form on offer and I have taken 7/2.
Al Maktoum Challenge (Gr.1) 1m 2f (dirt)
Extremely weak for a so called Group 1. So don’t care much about the class. 3 Bendoog (Gun Runner) is the 2/1 favorite and could win this. 13 Salute The Soldier (Sepoy) won this in 2021 and was fifth last year. He should make a bold bid again. My money will land on outsider 15 Sifting Sands (Dubawi) drawn in stall two. Beautifully bred he has not done much at Meydan in two starts but should be nearing top form now. From a good draw, talented Antonio Fresu can choose how near the lead he wants to be. 18/1 is a good price for this kind of longshot.
Ras Al Khor (Conditions) 7f (turf)
This looks like a perfect opportunity for 2 Al Suhail (Dubawi) under William Buick. An easy course and distance winner last time out I backed him at evens yesterday. To my surprise he has drifted to 5/4 but there are of course 13 other runners in the race so the odds is short. 3 Danyah (Invincible Spirit) impressed me last time out but I don’t think he can beat my favorite.
Jebel Hatta (Gr.1) 1m 1f (turf)
The best race of the day with some serious Group 1 form on display. On paper, this race is a contest between the Godolphin trainers Charlie Appleby and Saeed bin Suroor. Appelby will have Buick in charge of 10 Master of the Seas (Dubawi) breaking from stall two. Daniel Tudhope will be in the irons of 12 Real World (Dark Angel) trained by bin Suroor. The odds are 2/1 and 5/2 with Master of the Seas being the favorite. Real World is rated 7 pounds higher than Master of the Seas but comes from a lengthy layoff. His last start was in the Queen Anne Stakes (Gr.1) where he went close to the megastar Baaeed. That form is supersolid, but also very old. Master of the Seas made a winning return in the Zabeel Mile (Gr.2) here in January and it is worth noting that Real World won that same race in 2022.
15 Valiant Prince (Dubawi) is another contender and he has won two Group 2 races during this Carnival. James Doyle is riding with confidence at the moment and Charlie Appleby is certainly hoping that his runners will be forming the exacta today. Even more interesting is the Hong Kong runner, 13 Russian Emperor (Galileo) who normally gets beaten by Golden Sixty or Romantic Warrior back home at Sha-Tin. Russian Emperor might very well be the best horse in the race as he showed last time out in Doha when he won HH The Amir Trophy. Russian Emperor would have been a heavy favorite in the Dubai City of Gold, but opted for this instead. Most of his running in Hong Kong has been between eight and ten furlongs, but the latest wins have been over twelve furlongs. As he will be held up and trying to arrive late to the party, his chances of success will rely on an honest pace in the race. At 14/1 I will take my chances each way.
Mahab Al Shamal (Gr.3) 6f (dirt)
3 Isolate (Marc Valeski) is a talented American sprinter who never was near catching 8 Tuz (Oxbow) last time out. Now Isolate is a 3/1 shot versus Tuz 4/1. That might seem odd, but Tuz had the benefit of a good draw at the rail that day and was race-fit which Isolate was not. Today they will come from stall seven and ten which will mean that they will have to spend more energy early on. My winner is 7 Sound Money (Flatter) who met some excellent sprinters and milers when in training with Chad Brown. Bhupat Seemar’s horses don’t necessarily need a run after a long break and I have strong faith in Mickael Barzalona’s ability to get Sound Money to the early lead, take a breather, and then just run away with it in the stretch. Should he be pressed, he can just hold back and pass them in the final furlong. 5/1 is not a good prize, but it is what it is.