By Pat Cummings
Race 1: $110,000 Zabeel Feedmill Trophy Handicap (Rated 95-105) - 2,200 meters - All-weather track
#8 OTTOMAN EMPIRE covered nine meters more than winner Royal Empire last time, parked slightly wide on the first turn and then wider the second turn. He had a prep in the UAE last year before running his best race of the campaign, and that's where we find him, back over the longer trip. All four of his lifetime wins have come over an all-weather surface, and he should have a stalking trip yet again. He is drawn in post 10 but should have plenty of time to grab some cover so as to avoid the overland journey again.
#7 ARTHUR'S TALE ran better than expected last time he was out, his first start outside of the US, but he did get an absolutely garden trip and was never more than even-paced throughout. We just don't know if that is enough reason to actually pick him on top, even with a slight improvement. He'll save ground yet again, and Mickael Barzalona hopes to have the catbird seat when it's go-time but he'll have to beat us. Comparatively, Arthur's Tale covered 23 meters less than Ottoman Empire did (about nine lengths). That difference shouldn't be that significant this time and could tell the tale.
#1 JARDIM gets over longer in this race, with his last two starts going the mile, a distance that might now be a bit too sharp for the Brazilian-bred son of Ski Champ. Improvement second-up is not without possibility.
1st - #8 OTTOMAN EMPIRE, 2nd - #7 ARTHUR'S TALE, 3rd - #1 JARDIM
Race 2: $150,000 Meydan Hotel Trophy Handicap (Rated 95+) - 1,800 meters - Turf
On the surface, there seems a surfeit of speed in this event. #7 FAMOUSWARRIOR is a certainty to go from the front and likely to at least enjoy the run more than he did up the hill and on dirt at Jebel Ali. #8 BURANO has gone forward in the past, and #9 PAENE MAGNUS seems to know no other way than attending the early gallop.
#4 MUSHREQ should certainly be helped by the slight drop in trip, a return to grass and only one turn. He set the pace in that first race back and faded while saving all the ground. He took full advantage of the rail draw and went forward, but seems unlikely to do that in this spot, with the others likely to take up the running.
Godolphin's #6 COUNTERGLOW was a winner here last season coming from off the pace over 1,400 meters, but eschewed those tactics in two starts in the UK this season when he went forward and faded.
Counterglow and #5 MASTEROFTHEROLLS share a common race on all-weather, when both went forward and Masteroftherolls stayed on strongly despite being on the brisk early gallop. Head-to-head, he seems the better of those two, but clearly needs to settle off the frontrunners in a tracking position to get the best spot. In his last race of the season, at Newmarket, this son of Refuse To Bend was unnecessarily strangled off the pace by Mickael Barzalona. The gallop was steady and he literally grabbed a hold and brought him back after breaking well. Moone's My Name, the winner of that race, broke slow and went on to grab an advantage after Barzalona took back and dictated the pace, staying on for the win. Silvestre de Sousa takes over this time, and gets our interest on top.
Interestingly, #2 ROSTRUM gets the blue cap for Godolphin here, not having won since March 2011 and not being in the top three since April 2011. He raced over farther here last season and is back to racing over shorter. He was always close at the end, nearer than almost any point in running, but it wasn't enough to even land a placing. While this race seems filled with speed, is it going to be enough to bring Rostrum into the race late? Tough call.
Provided Masteroftherolls settles better as there should be a substantive pace, that third behind Mutahadee here last year, when he endured a wider trip and some early-stretch bumping, is enough to win this race.
1st - #5 MASTEROFTHEROLLS, 2nd - #4 MUSHREQ, 3rd - #2 ROSTRUM
Race 3: $150,000 Bab Al Shams Trophy Handicap (Rated 95+) - 2,000 meters - All-weather
#1 SPRING OF FAME is top-rated and top-weighted in this field, but really is deserving of the impost. If he didn't run a course record at Kempton last time, he sure came close to it, defeating the well-regarded Modun in a listed race. He is a two-time Carnival winner and everything about this trip hits him just right.
#3 JAMR caught our eye with interest in the Maktoum Challenge and we essentially decided that this guy was in only for a leg-stretcher and it certainly appeared that way when he ran like he was shocked to be asked to pick up so soon. That last race was over a mile, 300 meters shorter than the shortest trip he'd ever previously seen, and his first start since last February, when he defeated Spring of Fame. It had the looks of a prep and it certainly played out that way, as he finished almost six lengths behind Barbecue Eddie. Otherwise, this son of Singspiel has four wins and a second from five starts here last season and some middling improvement gets him in the mix. The only horse to beat him was Spring of Fame, and then he returned the favor two weeks later. A good battle between these two is in the offing.
#4 ELDERLY PARADISE ran with credit last week making his seasonal debut over the mile, and now stretches beyond 1 1/8 miles for the first time in his career. He stayed on valiantly last week, but we doubt he has the same punch over longer. What he does have is a tactical advantage, though, and will go forward and try to last as long as he can, with Jamr likely to sit off the speed and Spring of Fame settling well-back. With a perfect ride and a dawdling tempo, he could do it, but we'll side against it.
1st - #1 SPRING OF FAME, 2nd - #3 JAMR, 3rd - #4 ELDERLY PARADISE
Race 4: $100,000 Meydan Golf Trophy Conditions - 1,200 meters - All-weather
This one is probably the toughest race of the night. Note this race is run in conditions company, so level weights spread the field, unlike most spots which are handicaps.
Early pace is likely from no less than five runners, including #1 ADDICTIVE DREAM, #2 BALLISTA, #5 GANAS, #6 GOVINDA and #14 GARBAH. It could really set up for a longshot.
#12 TAMAATHUL only has two wins and two seconds from four starts and the one second-placing came at the hands of a horse doing the best running of his life at the moment, Barbecue Eddie. Tamaathul is at the top of his game; he has gone forward in the past, but settled off the crazy tempo last week down the turf straight and he could do similarly again on Thursday given his draw in 13. He has never been better and the tempo should yield added consideration to him running another biggie.
This trip should be too sharp for #8 KAVANAGH, who has done his best running over 1,400 meters and has even gone to the mile. We think this is a prep for more, later, and will avoid him for now.
#7 HITCHENS was a close second in his local debut last year and came back to win the Al Shindagha Sprint (UAE-III). Obviously, this is a prep to get him to that spot, but the presence of so much early gallop leads us to believe he'll draw into this race at the end. We feel similarly about #3 BALMONT MAST. While liking him a bit on opening night, he was beaten only three lengths when never really threatening and chasing a lightning fast pace that allowed longshot Fityaan to land the spoils. Three of his four lifetime wins, and nine of his 11 lifetime placings, are on the all-weather, and his wins over Nocturnal Affair shape up #13 WHAILEYY just ran at Lingfield on January 5 (he took the late plane into Dubai), losing by only a neck after traveling wide but running on well in a fast heat over this trip. He carried 61 kilos and the pace suits him as it does the other two mentioned. Before that, his win over Iver Bridge Lad is legitimate enough, even those that one hasn't done much here.
1st - #3 BALMONT MAST, 2nd - #7 HITCHENS, 3rd - #12 TAMAATHUL
Race 5: $200,000 Cape Verdi sponsored by Meydan Hotels (UAE-II) - 1,600 meters - Turf
#8 SAJJHAA goes first-up for Godolphin after a 2012 season marked with a big mid-year break. Sure, she didn't win the listed Fillies Stakes at Doncaster as the flat season came to an end in November, but she really should have. Jockey Mickael Barzalona arguably gave this mare the push-button a bit too soon and after breaking a big gap in the final 2 1/2 furlongs, she idled on the lead and was run down by Cubanita. While that filly is no world beater, it just seemed a case of asking for too much too early; Sajjhaa ran her race and a similar effort is likely enough for a win here.
Fellow Godolphin colorbearer #1 DARK ORCHID had success in lesser company early last year and gets her first try against older company. She ran in the Prix de la Nonette (Fr-II) at Deauville and suffered from a case of classic French tactics, as the field lined up in mostly single file, and well off the rail. Upon straightening, this daughter of Dansili found herself caught in a tight spot and took a long time to find room to lengthen. When she did, she came running and was only a neck away from second. Under more British-type conditions, she should sit well and kick on, but needs some pace to chase.
The performance we saw from #2 AMANEE last time was exactly as her past has shown: feast or famine. Now she's in against her own gender, and specifically, Trakus reported she covered 8 meters more than the longshot winner, Le Drakkar, on the opening night of the Carnival. Mike de Kock suspected some in his barn might need a race or so to get fit, and we thought it odd Amanee landed in that opening night handicap. But if it took the rust off, she can rebound to competitiveness here.
1st - #8 SAJJHAA, 2nd - #2 AMANEE, 3rd - #1 DARK ORCHID
Race 6: $120,000 Meydan Beach Trophy Handicap (Rated 100-110) - 1,600 meters - Turf
This is a dangerous race that has the look of many different possibilities on paper. Several in this field have run already at the Carnival, and most are stretching-out an extra 200 meters.
#13 JET LEGEND is most likely a narrow favorite off the back of a decent Group 3 win before beginning his preparation to come to Dubai. Five wins from ten starts, two-from-three at the distance - it's really just a question of how ready he is to pop. He is very well handicapped amongst the group, only carrying 55 kilograms. This guy is a full brother to Al Quoz Sprint (UAE-I) winner J J the Jet Plane. He deserves the attention he gets.
We have to give #4 DON'T CALL ME a massive chance, especially as he is likely to be ignored to some degree in the market. He ran a brilliant race last time out. Sixteenth and last with 600 meters to run, this guy commenced a rally and was subsequently steadied, then sandwiched and steadied again. Off the Trakus sectional timing data, he was 0.06 seconds slower than winner Le Drakkar in the final 100 meters, but a minimum of 0.20 seconds faster in that split than the rest of the field of 16, and that came with all sorts of trouble. It is worth noting that #10 REX IMPERATOR gets the trainer's son, Adrian Nicholls aboard, which indicates first preference, but Don't Call Me just ran on too well for us to ignore.
#2 DISA LEADER was a value play for us on opening night and was hardly disgraced. The 1,600 meters is within his range and he was doing his best running in the final strides off the long layoff. He could be in the frame with little doubt.
1st - #4 DON'T CALL ME, 2nd - #13 JET LEGEND, 3rd - #2 DISA LEADER
Pat Cummings, of Trakus and Dubai Race Night, has partnered with AmWest Entertainment to provide enhanced handicapping analyses. Cummings, who has covered Dubai Carnival racing since 2008, will establish the morning-line odds for each Carnival program as well as offer selections and both pre- and post-race analysis.
Pat's Picks at the 2013 Dubai World Cup Carnival to date: 3-12 (25%)