Horse Racing: Derby bridesmaid could step out the shadow

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RACING fan Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) picks out his best bets from a busy Saturday card.

14:00 Meydan | At The Races

Meydan takes centre stage this weekend and hosts it’s high class World Cup meeting. The Al Quoz Sprint is one of many Group 1 races on the card and has attracted a very good field, but there is one in here who may just be a cut above.

Ertijaal is a Meydan specialist with numerous wins to his name at the venue and he was a gallant second in this race last year. He is very consistent and Jim Crowley is two from two on him however this looks a good renewal and despite being a backable price given his talents I’m not taking the plunge.

Jungle Cat won his trial for this in good style and is a horse who has shown Group 1 ability down the years. He was 4th in this last season and he showed a good level of form in the UK in the Spring before it dropped off. He has place possibilities however seems to find one or two too good at this level.

Limato was disappointing on his final start in the States however he brings by far the strongest form in to this race. He runs really well fresh and though he is fairly versatile in regards to his optimum trip a strongly run six furlongs seems ideal. With firm in the title he is almost unbeatable and on quick Dubai ground I think he may just be too good for his opponents here.

15:30 Meydan | At The Races

The Dubai Turf is my favourite race of the meeting and unfortunately injury has ruled Solow out of another renewal. However this is a very good race and it’s certain to thrown up numerous Group 1 winners throughout the year, but who will take this?

Zarak kept very good company in France last season with his best effort coming when second in the French Derby. He won well on his comeback at today’s venue and has race fitness on his side today. He strikes me as the sort to improve from 3 to 4 and is a deserving favourite.

Mutakyyef improved leaps and bounds last season and deserves his place in this field. I think he is still progressing and will most likely pay his way through the season. However he missed his intended prep in the Winter Derby and I have a slight niggling doubt that he may be best watched today.

Ribchester had a superb three year old season ending the season and a Group 1 winner with three places at the top level. Richard Fahey is adamant his charge will be better this season and he shapes like a horse who will relish today’s extra distance. Versatile in terms of tactics and ground he ticks a lot of boxes for me and I have backed him to win this.

16:05 Meydan | At The Races

The Sheema Classic is the meetings top turf race and this really is a fantastic renewal. Last year’s winner Postponed is favourite to complete the double however he will need to be at his very best to win and I think the value may lie elsewhere.

Postponed was on course to be Europe’s top middle distance horse last season winning two Group 1 races before disappointing in the Arc. He never settles properly that day and I would be prepared to put a line through that form. However as good as he looks on his day races have kind of fallen in to his lap and at these prices I want to look elsewhere.

Highland Reel is another who had an exceptional 2016 and on firm ground he is top class. However everything needs to drop right for him and he was well beaten in this race last season. He is consistent and likely to run his race but I like the look of another in the race here.

Jack Hobbs is on last chance saloon territory today but I am willing to give him one last chance. Second to Golden Horn in the 2015 Derby and won the Irish equivalent however he has never shown that form since however John Gosden is convinced he is a superstar. These are his perfect conditions and with an uninterrupted preparation I feel this is the day we see the real Jack Hobbs.

Best Bets

14:00 Meydan – Limato to win (11/4 Coral)

15:30 Meydan – Ribchester to win (100/30 William Hill)

16:05 Meydan – Jack Hobbs to win (4/1 Bet365)

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I grew up watching Hearts games with my dad and playing football at every opportunity so betting on it was the logical next step! Football coupons became a Saturday ritual and it introduced me into the world of horse racing. I started watching it on a regular basis, and after Galileo's Derby win in 2001 I was hooked. I follow both flat and national hunt racing attending the northern meetings when possible.

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