AFTER a sensational Cheltenham for us, we invited Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) back to give us his views on the Dubai World Cup meeting.
The first race of the card and it's a fairly low key beginning to World Cup night. Though it's not a low grade affair it's certainly not a mouthwatering race for the neutral, however I have a huge fancy running in it.
Sloane Avenue was runner up in this race last year and went down as a slightly unlucky loser in that race. That was behind Tamarkuz who was one of the stars of the meeting last year and taken at face value that's the best form on offer.
However Tamarkuz done everything wrong that day (missed the break for a front runner) and there was a frenetic pace on that occasion. The race was run to suit Sloane Avenue and I'm not sure it will be the same here in this slightly smaller field. I'm swerving him.
Maftool is a smart horse and on an all weather surface is yet to be out of the places in six starts. He has a 50% strike rate here and is likely to give each way backers a run for their money. He won his only start at the festival in a mile handicap, and though he can expect to come on for that I still feel he falls short at Group 2 level and I'm happy to oppose him for win purposes.
The one I like here is the favourite Marking. Trained in America by Kiaran McGlaughlin he's owned by Godolphin and I expect him to give them a winning start to their meeting.
He is currently around 13/8 and when you look at his form against his rivals that's an incredible price. On his seasonal debut here he came out of the stalls awkwardly and unseated James Doyle immediately.
He was odds on to win that day and when he returned he was again slightly awkwardly away but went on to win a handicap easily over six furlongs. He steps up to a mile here but has winning form over this trip and superior form to his rivals.
If he didn't have previous for messing up the start he would be odds on so I plan to take advantage of this price available and hopefully get the meeting off to a flyer.
The stayers are up next and a field of 11 go to post. This is a very interesting race and I'm looking forward to watching this as I expect this to be a useful race for my notebook with a few intriguing types here.
Big Orange was a really progressive stayer last season winning a Newmarket Group 2 over a mile and a half before stepping up to staying trips and winning the Goodwood Cup.
He was disappointing afterwards in the Lonsdale Cup at York however he ran the race of his life when fifth in the Melbourne Cup. If he continues this upward curve then he will have a huge season but I expect him to struggle here on his seasonal debut. Likely to be ridden from the front he's more likely to set this race up than win it.
Manatee trained by the French genius that is Andre Fabre comes here with a lot of good form to his name, however unfortunately none of it is at this distance.
He did win over a furlong shorter before (won effortlessly but lower grade) and that was on very soft ground and he will not find that here. He spent most of last season running in middle distance races and kept good company.
He was well beaten in the Arc before stepping up to staying trips in the Prix Royal Oak where he was never competitive. He remains of interest over this trip and has had the benefit of a prep race, but I think he will struggle to beat the favourite here.
Vazirabad won the Prix Royal Oak last season and that was his final victory of a run of five wins and he looks like a top class stayer. He's only had seven career starts and has made rapid progress to sit near the very top of the staying division.
Under Christophe Soumillon he won with something in hand in most of his victories and if he has improved at all over the winter he could end up an Ascot Gold Cup winner.
He's only four years old which is infancy for a stayer, and providing he is fully wound up for this (I fully expect him to be) then I make him a confident selection here.
15:45 Meydan | Channel 4
One of the highlights of the meeting however it's missing it's star attraction as last year's winner Solow is out. It's still a very good renewal however looking at the market I've spotted one at a big price that catches my eye.
Tryster will start favourite here and if you'd told me that three months ago I wouldn't have believed you. An all weather specialist he flopped on turf last summer, but on two starts on turf at the festival this year he has been very impressive culminating in a Group 1 victory last time out.
However that was nowhere near as competitive as this and he will need to improve further to win here. William Buick thinks Tryster could be a superstar, and maybe he is but I'm not backing him today though he is obviously a huge threat.
Intilaaq is one of the most intriguing prospects around after his two most recent wins and he looks worth his place in this race. He flopped in the 2000 Guineas last season but followed that up with emphatic wins in a Newbury Listed race and a Haydock Grade 2.
He is taking another step up in class here but could well be up to it. He still looked raw last season and with another year behind him I expect him to improve, but at 5/2 there are others who make more appeal today.
Real Steel brings some top Japanese form in to the race and looks worthy of his place. He spends most of his time following the high class Duramente home and on paper has arguably the best form in the book. However it's over a year since he last won and despite the assistance of Ryan Moore the percentage call is to oppose him.
The one I like here is the David Simcock trained The Corsican. I really like this horse and though this is the shortest trip he has ever run I see reasons for backing him today.
A winner of half his career starts he has progressed through the ranks from handicaps to Group 1 races. He was last seen in the Champion Stakes at Ascot, and though he finished sixth he ran a good race.
That was a better race than this in my opinion and he will appreciate the new trip I feel. He travels strongly and chasing a fast pace over a shorter trip could be ideal. He won on his seasonal debut last season and comes here a fresh horse who considering his form starts at a huge price here. I'm backing him each way in this and I expect him to run a big race.
12:20 Meydan – Marking to win (13/8 Betfair Sportsbook)
12:55 Meydan – Vazirabad to win (7/5 Netbet)
15:45 Meydan – The Corsican each way (16/1 Betfair Sportsbook)
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