Can you believe this Carnival is slowly drawing to a close?! We’ve only got a few nights left before we kiss this meeting goodbye. The highlight of this card are the girls in Race 4 – the UAE Oaks – but we’ve got some nice horses and fan favorites running as well, and three – count ’em, three! – stakes races on the night. Let’s dig in before I have the chance to blab any more!
Race 1 is a 1400m all-weather handicap with a rather short field of eight. On the outside is Barbecue Eddie, who came into this year with fans expecting a win or two out of the old boy. Alas, the old boy may be past his prime and certainly not as good as he was at last year’s Carnival. Eddie is 10; his career will undoubtedly be at a close soon. He wears the black cap alongside stablemate Kanaf, who’s coming out of a win on the dirt at Jebel Ali. Though he has a win on the all-weather, he’s a maiden still on Meydan’s surface, and looks a little better on the dirt. My top fancy here is My Freedom, who finished a strong third to Eastern Rules last out. That horse came back to beat Anaerobio on turf, so he’s no slouch at all. His third run at the Carnival should prove fruitful for trainer bin Suroor. Tamaathul, while I don’t like him for the win, shouldn’t be left out, nor should Modern History. Rutland Boy on the rail is rather interesting, making his first race in more than a year. He’s got some good form under his belt, but it’s hard to get behind a horse coming off a layoff like that. My Freedom – Modern History – Tamaathul
Next up is another all-weather handicap, this time over 1200m. Merhee looks a strong choice here as he returns to the all-weather; he was 10th of 14 on turf on January 30. There are two names in here that should be familiar to Americans reading this – Conveyance and Zee Bros. The former is making a return to the races after nearly three years off the layoff for Satish Seemar; his last American start was in 2010, when he was 15th behind Super Saver in the Kentucky Derby. Zee Bros is making his Dubai debut for Zayat Stables after finishing 10th in the Malibu in December. Best of luck to both, but I’ll have to side with some others here! Medicean Man is coming off a week’s rest here; don’t count him out entirely, for 3 of his 5 all-weather races have been on-the-board performances. Abu Sidra has won over the all-weather before and has some interesting form coming into this race. Look out for Mujaazef, although I won’t put him in my top 3 here. Merhee – Abu Sidra – Medicean Man
The first of the night’s stakes races is the listed Meydan Classic, which has drawn ten entries. Run at 1400m on the turf, it’s restricted to three year-olds, some of whom are coming out of the 2000 Guineas and the trial for that race as well. The two I fancy most were drubbed by Long John last out in the Guineas – Wednaan and My Catch. The former looks extremely tough after a strong third in the Guineas, while the latter was a Group 3 winner in his two year-old season. They look to have a class edge on the rest of the field. Dolce N Karama, fourth behind Kingston Hill in the Racing Post Trophy last year, may do better returning to turf after an eighth in the Guineas Trial. Jallota also has faced good company in the past; he was fourth to No Nay Never in his French Group 1 triumph last year. It’s really a no-brainer for me here – wish all races could be this easy! Of course, I said that about the Balanchine last week… Wednaan – My Catch – Jallota
It’s girl time! The UAE Oaks is Race 4, run at 1900m on the main track. 9 ladies have lined up for this Group 3 event; 8 of those fillies, save for herself, chased Ihtimal home in the UAE 1000 Guineas. Ihtimal will break from post 2 – she looks very nice in this spot. She was third behind Chriselliam last year, who would have been one of the favorites for the English classics had she not unfortunately passed away at the beginning of 2014. Godolphin has a great chance of doing the Guineas-Oaks double with her. Drawn right to her inside is the speedy Letterfromamerica, who stuck on well for third in the Guineas Trial but didn’t last in the main event, finishing ninth. A filly I think could improve second off the layoff is Feedyah, who finished a closing second to Ihtimal in the Guineas. Her Street Cry-Red Ransom pedigree is mint for this distance and surface; she was my pick in the Guineas but wasn’t good enough to get by Ihtimal, who I’ll probably put on top. Out of the three Mike de Kock fillies, Mensoora was the best in the Guineas; she completes a logical trifecta in a race that should well mirror the previous race. That being said, I hope Feedyah at least gives Godolphin’s budding star a run for her money! Ihtimal – Feedyah – Mensoora
The third and final stakes of the night is the Group 2 Zabeel Mile, with a thin field of 8 going 1600m on the grass. Last year’s winner, Trade Storm, wasn’t quite so stellar in his return to Meydan, finishing 10th of 12 behind Mujaarib on January 30. Then again, that third to Wise Dan’s tour de force in the Woodbine Mile last year probably took the wind out of his sails a little. We’ll see how he fares second off the layoff. The “now” horse, in my opinion, is Mushreq, who has done pretty nicely at this Carnival so far, with a win and a second. Anaerobio will stretch out an extra furlong after his last two efforts – he’s done so successfully before, but it’s clear that 1400m is his dream trip. Still, he’s beaten many of these before, and is still live even after his fifth to Eastern Rules last out. Gabrial is also live; he was fourth to a monster in Vercingetorix last out. And what of Edu Querido, the raider from South America? His seventh to Mont Ras on the 6th may have just been a warm-up for better things to come. Still, I feel more comfortable backing the tried and tested horses here – I’ve grown a particularly soft spot for Anaerobio and Gabrial in their time here. Mushreq – Gabrial – Anaerobio
Race 6, the nightcap, is an all-weather handicap over 2200m. It’s pretty cut-and-dry, I think, like most of the races on this card. I’m going to give Winterlude another shot after a sixth to Sanshaawes on the 13th, his first start after nearly four months on layoff. He has both the talent and the pedigree to do well on the all-weather at Meydan, and I really hope he can do well in his second start in Dubai. Then there’s Alexandra Palace, who is a winner at the Carnival and who you absolutely cannot leave out of the fray here. Energia Davos has kept good company thus far at the Carnival, though Cat O’Mountain didn’t exactly flatter him last Thursday. Manalapan is a nice horse but not quite for me here. Tha’ir is probably better on the turf. So, after wanting to rip my hair out over his rides last week, I find myself on Barzalona’s horse in the last race of the night. Don’t let me down, Barza. Winterlude – Alexandra Palace – Energia Davos
Next Wednesday, the 5th, sometime in the afternoon I will be doing a live webcast previewing the Super Saturday card. I’ve had a few offers thus far, but if anyone else is interested, contact me. I’d like to do it with people that have followed the Carnival from the very beginning, so if that applies to you, give me a shout! I’d love to be able to discuss the races with you all and share our collective opinions to the world.
Good luck to all tomorrow and happy racing!