15:05 Group 2 Stakes
This is an interesting grade 2 over 9 furlongs, and Benbatl for SBS and Oisin Murphy is the hot favourite here. He was an impressive winner of a grade 3 over course and distance three weeks ago and is the type of horse they thrive with in Dubai. Considering he meets some classy new rivals here, we are happy to take this one on and intend to be best price.
Light the Lights deserves a mention after beating the well-treated Blair House last time out conceding buckets of weight. But the preference here is for Bravo Zolo for Charlie and Buick. He was touched off by D’bai on his last start from an awful draw and considering D’bai, who runs in a Grade 2 later, is one of the best backed horses of the day, that form looks pretty good. It’s also significant that Buick chooses this over the unexposed Bay of Poets
15:40 Turf Handicap
Steady Pace is well drawn, back to his best trip after a decent pipe opener, and gets Soumillion in the saddle – he has a lot going for him, while Dubai One deserves respect after a progressive all-weather campaign. I’m going to take an each-way play in Sir Maximillion to spoil the party. No spring chicken at nine years old, this one seems to be coming to the boil and is off a potentially criminal handicap mark on its best form. He was not bet far last week, staying on over 5, and the return to 6 furlongs looks perfect.
He’s drawn next door to Steady Pace so will hopefully spot a tow into the race from that one
Boynton is interesting and well bred for dirt but seemed to lose his way badly in the UK and will need the gelding op and Dubai sunshine on the back to spark him back into life
It shouldn’t matter anyway, as Kimbear looks a top-class dirt animal and really needs to be taking this easily to justify the price we’ve put him in for the Godolphin Mile on World Cup Night.
He had some excellent dirt form in the US and won his UAE debut swinging his mickey. The 6 pound raise looks lenient to say the least and I’d be surprised if he didn’t follow up here.
16:50 Group 2 Stakes
D’bai is has been all the rage all day but the price seems to be long gone past what he can be backed, and while Championship is top class he’s weak in the market and makes a comeback from injury here, so he’s best watched.
Dream Castle has buckets of ability and is always supported but he’s shat the bed one too many times at short prices for him to be advised so Jungle Cat is where I’m looking for a bet. His form figures round here are 1242214 and has been very highly tried in that time. While the majority of his form is over 6, he’s proven over 7 in the past and looks a solid option in a trappy heat.
Desert Force and Ravens Corner both looked group horses in the making but have had their issues since. Desert went off way too quick and finished drunk 3 starts ago – a run that looks to have broken him. Ravens Corner has acted up at the starting gates on the two previous occasion, so Connex go for blinkers here. Both are potentially thrown in but cant be taken with too much trust.
Keystroke is being backed for Noseda but there’s still been no UK-trained winner on the dirt here. My “shrewd” colleague thinks that Yalta has as much chance of staying 7 furlongs as I do and while the trip is a big ask he is (a) the fastest horse in the race , (b) from a trainer that’s pissing winners out and, (c) ridden by the best dirt jock at the track, who has chosen him over the shorter-priced stable mate. At a throw away price he’s worth a few quid.
Judging by the cash we are seeing, Godolphin are expecting to land a three-way dead heat here between Gold Star, Walton Street and Eynhallow. Either that or we’ve managed to go in too big on all three.
However, I’ll keep things simple here: Soumillion gave an SBS horse a masterclass from a wide draw last week and I’m backing him to do the same again here on Gold Star. He bumped into one on his last start and from only two pounds higher definitely has a race of this nature in him.