BETTING industry expert Tommy Buckley (@tbuckleythinks) has previewed the new horse racing season at Meydan for 2018/19.
Meydan 2018/19: Horses to follow
For the vast majority of horse racing enthusiasts, the onset of winter means the start of another proper jumps season to look forward to, but for me I'm just as much looking forward to seeing the action from Meydan in Dubai as I am from Cheltenham.
Racing from Meydan first caught my eye back in 2010 whilst stuck at work in the bookies on an all-day shift, thinking all I'd have to look forward to was watching three-runner jumps races in deep mud. Thankfully the action from Meydan came on and I've been hooked since.
For me, the racing season at Meydan – which stretches from early November, right through to the middle of April – provides great variety, in the sense the locally-based trainers and horses have their chance to shine from November to end of December. Then those that are good enough earn their places within the Dubai Carnival season when the best trainers, jockeys (and most importantly) horses from around the world join in.
I believe the standard of racing is rising year-on-year at Meydan – just look at the winners from Dubai World Cup, including the likes of Mendelssohn, Vazirabad, Jungle Cat, Mind Your Biscuits, Hawkbill, Thunder Snow and Benbatl. That shows how the very best in the world do battle here.
I really can't wait for the new season, and indeed the new UAE racing season as a whole, to start and here is my look at a group of horses who I think will be interesting to follow this season.
Meydan/UAE trainers and horses to follow
Every year as October comes around I start getting excited about the next impending Meydan season starting, knowing it's time to start going back through the form of the previous seasons racing and begin work on a new list of trainers/horses to follow.
Like for any new racing season, there are always new horses to look forward to and the follow list of horses will be brand new to the Meydan/Jebel Ali racing scene this year, most of them being purchased from the Annual Racing In Dubai Sale which sees the domestic Dubai-based trainers buying all the horses released by Godolphin.
Warburton – A three-year-old gelding by Dawn Approach, purchased by Touch Gold Racing from Godolphin and previously trained by Charlie Appleby. Four career runs to his name over trips up to one mile one furlong, including experience of the likes of Kempton and Chelmsford. His last run was back in April when a fair third at Epsom.
The first target for Warburton will be to win one of the Meydan maidens, which are now worth a greatly increased amount of money.
Majestic Thunder – A three-year-old unraced gelding by Dubawi, bought from the Saeed Bin Suroor yard and although he has no racing experience Touch Gold racing were excited to get such a well-bred type. They will be targeting a maiden win to start with – being by Dubawi gives him plenty of potential that may be unlocked in Dubai.
Shangai Schwartz – A three-year-old colt interestingly purchased from American trainer Chad Brown. Four career starts with last two producing wins over six furlongs at Saratoga, he should be well-suited to Meydan and will be very interesting to watch how he goes. He could well be one connections aim at the better races later on in the season.
Leading Spirit – A two-year-old by Exceed and Excel. Has six starts under previous trainer Charlie Appleby including one fair win at Newbury – should have more to give and will be fascinating to watch him develop out in Meydan.
George Villiers – A three-year-oldbay colt by Dubawi, purchased out of the John Gosden yard. Has seven career starts, including two wins with a seven furlong win at Kempton, and most recently when winning over one mile at Newmarket. His new owners were excited to get him and he certainly should be up to performing very well and winning during the Meydan season.
Night Castle – A three-year-old gelding by Dubawi, previously trained by Charlie Appleby. Has two wins from six starts with those wins coming over seven furlongs at Newcastle and then over one mile at Lingfield. An interesting prospect for Meydan.
Ode To Autumn – A three-year-old gelding formerly trained by John Gosden. Has 11 career starts and two wins with both victories coming at Newcastle early this year. Has plenty of racing experience already in the book but did run in August so could be ready to go early in the Meydan season.
Casey Jones – A three-year-old gelding by Casamento, formerly trained by John Gosden and winner of three of his six career starts – all those 3 wins were at Newcastle and his most recent run was a decent third in a strong looking Class 3 event over one mile two furlongs at Chelmsford. Should be scope for more improvement and should go well in Dubai.
Golden Goal – A four-year-old gelding by Dark Angel. Has had six career starts under Saeed Bin Suroor – those six starts produced three wins and they all came at Chelmsford, twice over seven furlongs and once over one mile. Looks the type that Doug Watson can improve and have lots of fun with.
The Song Of John – A two-year-old colt by Colonel John, recently purchased from America by Touch Gold Racing who believe he has scope to be effective over turf and dirt in Meydan. Definitely one to follow as he develops this season.
Pop The Hood – A six-year-old gelding purchased by Touch Gold Racing from America, said to be already rated well enough for Dubai Carnival races. It will be fascinating to see what Doug Watson does with him.
Illusional – A three-year-old gelding by Bernadini. Had 11 starts for Mark Johnston over trips ranging from seven furlongs to one mile one furlong – only one win over one mile at Southwell, and his proven racing experience should see him handle the demands of the Meydan season well.
Pouvoir Magique – A four-year-old gelding by Le Havre. Connections have expressed excitement about buying him and believe he'll give them live chances on turf at the Dubai Carnival. Has eight career starts and three wins – the bets of those wins was in May when beating a classy field including the likes of Rip Orf at Newbury over one mile.
Ali Rashid Al Rayhi:
Daltrey – A three-year-old gelding by Iffrajj, formerly trained by John Gosden. Has six career starts, all over a seven furlong trip, and experience of all the different UK all-weather surfaces. Connections are very hopeful that he'll do well in Meydan.
Fitzsimmons – A three-year-old gelding by Teofilo. Has five career starts over trips between one mile two furlongs to one mile four furlongs. Boasts one career win over one mile four furlongs on quick ground at Brighton – he made all for that win and that prominent racing style should see him adapt well to Meydan.
Endless Gold – A four-year-old gelding by Dubawi, formerly trained by Charlie Appleby. Yet to win from seven career starts but he finished second on four occasions and produced some fair efforts in defeat. Should have more to offer.
Valcartier – A four-year-old bay gelding formerly trained by John Gosden. Has nine career starts to date over trips from seven furlongs to one mile two furlongs. His only win came over one-and and-a-half mile furlongs at Nottingham. Was well fancied for a big York race won by Thundering Blue but he disappointed badly in that contest.
He's better than that, he was one of the more expensive purchases at the sales and he's interesting for Meydan.
Branscombe – A three-year-old bay gelding out of Invincible Spirit, formerly trained by Mark Johnston so no surprise to see 19 career runs in the book. He has three career wins, including one at Sandown over five furlongs on good ground. His other two wins came at Lingfield over six furlongs and Chelmsford over one mile, so he's versatile in terms of trip and surface.
He ran in August and could be the type to hit the ground running at Meydan, hd certainly has plenty of racing experience.
To Wafij – A three-year-old colt by Kodiac, formerly with Roger Varian. Had seven career starts over five furlongs, including winning on debut at Yarmouth. Hood enough to run in the Group 3 Cornwallis Stakes as a two-year-old – new connections believe he's an exciting recruit to the UAE race scene and they have Carnival targets in mind.
To Dibba – A four-year-old gelding by Dubawi. Nine career starts for Roger Varian over trips ranging from seven furlongs to one mile two furlongs – his only career win to date was over seven furlongs on soft ground at Leicester. His last run was in a decent looking Class 2 at Doncaster over one mile two furlongs, and certainly looks a very interesting recruit.
Yalawin – A four-year-old colt by Lawma. Had five starts for Roger Varian over trips ranging from five furlongs to seven furlongs. His only career win to date came over six furlongs on quick ground at Ripon. Has experience of racing on turf and all-weather and looks the type who can go well at Meydan once he's settled in.
Masaarr – A three-year-old colt by Distorted Humour. Has nine starts covering trips from seven furlongs to one mile two furlongs, and three career wins over one mile at Doncaster, Lingfield and an excellent win at Deauville. He finished his time with Roger Varian with an excellent second in a Group 3 at Leopardstown over one mile.
Connections are very excited to be sending him to Dubai and he really could prove to be one of the best recruits this season. Should be able to hold his own during the Dubai Carnival.
Ashwass – A four-year-old formerly trained by Roger Varian. Has only two career starts to date and not seen since winning very well at Chepstow over seven furlongs in September 2017. Once he's settled into Dubai there should be a lot more to come from him and he could be one who can rise through the ratings to compete at the Carnival.
Meydan 2018/19 racing schedule
- Thursday November 1st – Domestic racing at Meydan
- Thursday November 8th – Domestic racing at Meydan
- Thursday November 22nd – Domestic racing at Meydan
- Thursday December 6th – Domestic racing at Meydan
- Thursday December 20th – Domestic racing at Meydan
- Thursday January 3rd – Dubai Carnival meeting
- Saturday January 5th – Domestic racing at Meydan
- Thursday January 10th – Dubai Carnival meeting
- Thursday January 17th – Dubai Carnival meeting
- Saturday January 19th – Domestic racing at Meydan
- Thursday January 24th – Dubai Carnival meeting
- Thursday January 31st – Dubai Carnival meeting
- Saturday February 2nd – Domestic racing at Meydan
- Thursday February 7th – Dubai Carnival meeting
- Thursday February 14th – Dubai Carnival meeting
- Thursday February 21st – Dubai Carnival meeting
- Thursday February 28th – Dubai Carnival meeting
- Saturday March 2nd – Domestic racing at Meydan
- Saturday March 9th – Dubai World Cup Carnival – Super Saturday
- Thurdsay March 14th – Domestic racing at Meydan
- Saturday March 30th – Dubai World Cup Day
- Friday April 5th – Domestic racing at Meydan
- Friday April 12th – Domestic racing at Meydan
The racing season at Meydan consists of a mix of standard race days made up mostly of locally-trained horses and also the incredibly prestigious Dubai World Cup Carnival meetings where the very best horses from all around the world compete for prizes worth millions of dollars, along with very best locally-trained horses that have proven their worth in early racing season at Meydan.
This season there are 23 scheduled race days at Meydan, consisting of 13 standard domestic race days and 10 Dubai Carnival meetings, including Super Saturday and the magical racing festival that is Dubai World Cup Day.
The early season fixture list at Meydan from November until the end of December consists entirely of locally trained horses and all the races are on the Meydan dirt track. It's reported that each domestic Meydan meeting will have fantastic offering of at least $350,000 in prize money for each seven-race meeting.
The Dubai Carnival season starts early January with racing both on the Meydan dirt and turf tracks as the top horses, trainers and jockeys from around the world are invited to compete for top races and prize money every meeting, including major Meydan races such as the three rounds of the Al Maktoum Challenge, all offering prizes of several hundred thousand dollars to the winner.
Dubai World Cup Day is the richest day's racing in the world and this season there will be an absolutely staggering, mind boggling US$40m plus on offer in prize money from January to March, with an increased total of $35m in total on offer on Dubai World Cup. The Dubai World Cup itself is now worth an incredible US$12m on it's own.
I can't wait for the Meydan season to start in November, the Jebel Ali season starts Friday 26th October and I'll do my best to cover the Meydan scene and give race meeting previews when I can.