(All times changed to SA time)
It is all turf at Meydan today, which invariably means one thing, Godolphin dominance.
That should certainly be the case in the Listed Meydan Classic at 17:40, by no means the standout race on the card but it does contain a horse that could easily be impacting upon the 2000 Guineas in England come May. The horse in question is Master Of The Seas, no doubt something of a surprise to see him here but it worked out for Charlie Appleby’s last Classic winner Masar running at the Carnival before continuing his three-year-old career in the UK.
Master Of The Seas arguably shaped best of all in the National Stakes when last seen, quickening to the front 2f out before swamped by three horses who would go on to fill the first three placings in the Dewhurst. He has been off since, presumably why Appleby is keen to get his season going here, and in truth, this should be a straightforward opportunity for him, for all stable mate Naval Crown is of a decent standard himself.
That one ran okay in the 2000 Guineas on dirt here and will be happier on the turf, but shouldn’t be good enough to trouble Master Of The Seas.
The Group action kicks off with the Nad Al Sheba Trophy at 18:15 and a good opportunity for ISPOLINI to get back on track. He offered a lot more last time when fourth to Dubai Future, his momentum stopped at a crucial moment, and whilst not exactly flying home at the finish, he was carrying 61kg (not the biggest to be doing so) in that handicap and is now significantly better off at the weights with both Volcanic Sky and Global Heat who were ahead of him.
There is an argument to suggest he has lost his way, which all began with an injury sustained in the build up to the Melbourne Cup in 2019, but there has been a hint of him working his way back and he can be too good for what in truth are some dubious opposition.
Charlie Appleby will be hoping Star Safari can make it four wins on the trot for him in the Dubai Millennium Stakes (6.50) but he is no Ghaiyyath who won this last year and I prefer the claims of Bedouin’s Story.
Ordinarily, he wouldn’t make any great appeal for a Group 2 either, but this is not a strong race, and his turn of foot could prove crucial in a race that looks devoid of speed. He is stepping up in trip but is often noted as being very strong at the end of his races though quite often having been left with too much to do.
That was the case just last week when fifth in the Zabeel Mile but prior to that he won a handicap when quickening sharply off a modest pace and the same could well happen again.
Star Safari is more of a grinder and cutting back in trip may be against him as he goes up in grade.
The first of the handicaps is the first thoroughbred race on the card at 17:05 and PROMPTING looks of some interest to deny complete Godolphin dominance. He was put forward as a horse to follow at the start of the Carnival but missed the cut on his intended reappearance and looked a little rusty when finally appearing and finishing fourth to Eastern World.
He was highly progressive for David O’Meara last year in England, and even in defeat at York on his final start, he bumped into three horses who were all competitive in Pattern Company subsequently.
He saw out the 9f well enough last time and from a nice draw can enjoy a good trip round and put it up to the Godolphin blue of which there are four in this.
I can’t resist the temptation of throwing up ESCOBAR again in the finale at 19:25 as things simply haven’t gone his way so far in two starts in Dubai. He was selected on his reappearance with the reasoning for doing so still ringing true, ie he is very well handicapped now, has form from last season that suggests he retains plenty of ability and is simply a more potent performer in the handicap environment.
He finished that reappearance on the bridle yet was still only tenth, then last week in the Zabeel Mile was basically a write off with things not being run to suit. That seems far more unlikely to happen this week with Ajwad in particular expected to put pace to the race and Escobar is worth another chance.
STEPHEN’S BEST BETS (SCALE 1-5 POINTS):
1pt win PROMPTING (15-2 Betfair Sportsbook, Paddy Power, 7-1 & 13-2 general)
1pt win ISPOLINI (5-2 & 9-4 general)
1pt win ESCOBAR (8-1 Betfair Sportsbook, Paddy Power, 15-2 and 7-1 general)
attheraces.com – Steven Molyneux