Dubai World Cup Carnival 2021

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The Dubai World Cup – Saturday March 27th, 2021: FREE Past Performances

Angus McNae’s Meydan Overview & Selections – Coming Soon

Saturday March 6th, 2021: FREE Past Performances

Angus McNae’s Meydan Overview & Selections – Super Saturday:

What a superb Super Saturday card we have in store! The format of this card replicates Dubai World Cup night itself in format and many will be looking to book their place on the big night.

7:00am ET Meydan: El Patriota

While dubbed a trial for the UAE Derby, this Listed contest is not a strong race and El Patriota can prevail having won the trial in good style in late January. Despite conceding weight all round, he is rated 109 and looks to have a class edge over this field. His nearest rival here is rated 102. He seemed to take very well to the dirt last time and finished very strongly to win with a fair bit in hand. He has had enough time to recover from that effort and looks to be a seriously good dirt horse in the making. He is a strong stayer at this 1900 metre trip and is lightly raced with just five starts, while he is unbeaten in all three dirt runs. He should be fresh and ready to book his place in the UAE Derby.

7:35am ET, Meydan: Walton Street

Charlie Appleby has won this Sheema Classic trial for the last three years and can make it four with Walton Street. He broke the track record last time in handicap company and, while admittedly the beneficiary of an easy lead and a very good front-running ride, I thought he looked an improved model. The fact that Charlie Appleby is eyeing the Sheema Classic is very interesting. That handicap win from a mark of 107 doesn’t make him an obvious candidate, but he absolutely bolted up and completely outclassed his rivals. He is a lot more progressive than his rivals here and I would be surprised if he is beaten. Dubai Warrior didn’t handle the dirt last time and will prove popular back on a more suitable surface, but there was more to that defeat than just the surface. He was very edgy and sweaty, wearing a hood down to the start and betraying the demeanour of a horse who had not settled into his new environment. He was also too keen in the race. I am very happy to oppose him with Walton Street.

8:45am ET, Meydan: Midnight Sands

Midnight Sands was set to run in the Godolphin Mile last year before World Cup night was abandoned and I am taking a chance on him in this trial. He won five times for Doug Watson last season and, having joined Brendan Walsh and raced three times without success in America, he’s now back with his former trainer at a track that suits him really well. Watson has a good record with horses after a lay-off and I think Midnight Sands will be ready to run a big race on his return. The trainer and jockey Pat Dobbs have proved a formidable combination over this trip and with this type of horse over the years. In many ways this is the most interesting race on the card with North America also returning to action. But I thought that North America was somewhat regressive last season, whereas Midnight Sands made rapid headway in handicaps.

9:20am ET, Meydan: Al Suhail

He has clearly not been the easiest to train, but he has untapped potential and I am keen on him in this trial for the Dubai Turf on World Cup night. He was thrashed in the 2000 Guineas and only ran twice as a three-year-old after a promising juvenile career, but he was tremendously impressive after a lay-off at Newmarket last July on his most recent start. He won that Listed race by six lengths in a lightening-fast time and suggested that, given the right conditions, he could become a Group One performer. Those conditions are a decent pace and ground that is not particularly quick, and this beautiful and bouncy green trampoline of a surface will really suit this very strong traveller. He is nicely berthed in stall 4 to get a stalking trip. I would be really keen on his chance if we had seen him since last July, but he nevertheless has immense potential. If he can bring that Newmarket performance to the party, he will be very hard to beat.

10:30am ET, Meydan: Royal Crusade

He could turn into a top-class sprinter and I am happy to side with Charlie Appleby and William Buick once again in this Al Quoz Sprint trial. This horse has a very similar profile to Al Suhail in that he was a very promising two-year-old but only ran twice at three, winning on his final start last July at Deauville. He quickened past the useful Glen Shiel on just his second run over six furlongs after a decent sixth in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot. He very much looked like a sprinter in those runs and that is the route he is exploring now. It is interesting that Buick chooses this horse rather than Man of Promise, on whom he won impressively here in early February. We should take the hint and back the immense sprinting promise of Royal Crusade.

Thursday February 25, 2021: FREE Past Performances

Angus McNae’s Meydan Overview & Selections – Week 6:

D’Bai was a winner last week at Meydan in this Thursday column, narrowly prevailing under a confident ride from William Buick. That result edged Buick ahead of Frankie Dettori in the Dubai World Cup Carnival Jockeys’ Championship at Meydan last week but I am banking the latter hitting back in the second race on Thursday.

With all thoroughbred races being run on the Turf this week, the blue of Godolphin look set to dominate and three of my selections sport those colours. My other selection is an international raider who just needs a decent trip in a competitive handicap.

10:05am ET Meydan: Dubai Mirage

This horse was beaten a nose by the talented yet unpredictable Bedouin’s Story last time out, but he can go one better here with plenty now in his favour. He steps up to nine furlongs here, which looks sure to suit him given his dam was useful at up to 11 furlongs. He is much more favourably positioned in stall 1, and after drawing stall 15 last week when not getting the best of trips but still running well. Frankie Dettori takes over from Hector Crouch in the saddle. He looks sure to get a good stalking trip, and the fact that he has gone up 2lbs is surely offset by the potential advantages this time. He should be backed with some confidence.

11:15am ET Meydan: Ispolini

He won this race by over 10 lengths in 2019 and then finished a creditable second in the Dubai Gold Cup to Cross Counter. He has won a Group Three in Germany since, but proved to be somewhat disappointing last year in a handful of runs. However, there were definite signs of a return to form last time. He finished fourth in a Listed handicap behind Dubai Future here three weeks ago, but he shaped a good deal better than the bare result. He was still travelling strongly two furlongs out but got stuck in traffic with nowhere to go. Once he got out and found a clear run, he ran on really strongly. That effort suggested he is on his way back and, at his best, he would win this with ease. I think he can take another step forward here and win his second Nad Al Sheba Trophy.

11:50am ET Meydan: Star Safari

He did this column a favour two weeks ago and can take the step up in grade in this weak Group Three for Charlie Appleby. The trainer has landed the last three renewals. His chance is based on him being more progressive than his rivals. Dream Castle finished last in the Al Rashadiya last time where he seemed amiss, while this 10-furlong trip stretches his stamina. Bedouin’s Story has turned the corner recently under Frankie Dettori and he was eye-catching last week, but I’d worry about the step-up in trip which may see him run too freely early on. On balance, I would rather be with a progressive type who seems to be improving with every run.

12:25pm ET Meydan: Escobar

He is worth supporting at a decent price to give trainer David O’Meara a second winner at this year’s Carnival. Escobar was luckless on his first run at Meydan this season, held up in what turned out to be a steadily-run affair and finishing full of running in 10th place. Last week, he was upped in grade but was far too free in a steadily-un Zabeel Mile. He returns to a handicap now and just needs some pace to go at to give him an excellent chance. He has some decent form in the UK, including when third behind Space Blues in the Lennox Stakes at Goodwood last season. He has won before from this mark of 105 and, with a clear run, has a chance at likely decent odds.

Thursday February 18, 2021: FREE Past Performances

Angus McNae’s Meydan Overview & Selections – Week 5:

We had another two winners in this column last week for Meydan and I am hopeful of more this week.

An excellent card features the UAE Oaks, the Balanchine and the Al Shindagha Sprint.

9:30am ET Meydan: Golden Goal
In breaking the seven-furlong track record here last time out this horse threw down a marker in terms of a potential challenge for the Godolphin Mile on World Cup night. He is a strong traveller who cruised through that handicap last time out and although he has been raised 8lb I think he is still fairly treated off a mark of 100. Indeed, if he has pretentious to be a Godolphin Mile contender then he has to win this. The worry is the relatively quick turnaround, which could see him recoil from that effort last time. However, he won with a bit in hand and this race is no stronger than the one he won last time out. He is highly thought of and can win again.

10:05am ET Meydan: Waady
Waady won this race last year, when beating Equilateral, and its distinctly possible that we will witness a repeat. Waady comes here on the back of an excellent run on dirt, where he finished second to Switzerland in the Dubawi Stakes. Moving from dirt to  turf is an excellent angle, with a dirt experience often serving to sharpen a horse up. That is aligned with a drop in trip, which is sure to suit. Equilateral is best when fresh and he duly obliged first time up off a lay-off last time here. He is far from certain to replicate that effort. After all he failed when given the task of backing up in this race last year. Lazuli was a shade disappointing behind Equilateral last time but rates as a danger if improving for the run.

11:50am ET Meydan: D’Bai
This Zabeel mile looks tailor made for D’Bai. I thought he shaped very well last time when finishing second in the Al Fahidi Fort behind Land Of Legends. The race was run at a moderate gallop and he was poorly positioned in being held up. By contrast, the winner was always well placed close to the pace. D’Bai finished off strongly towards the inside rail, shaping remarkably well in the circumstances and there is little doubt in my mind that he was unable to show his true colours. He won the Al Fahidi Fort here last year in impressive fashion, where he attacked down the middle of the track off a strong gallop. I would expect a similar performance and success on Thursday. The step up to a mile is a small concern, but he has rarely raced at the trip and can boast a Class 2 Handicap win at Ascot over a mile way back in 2017.

12:25pm ET Meydan: Althiqa
The past two winners of the Balanchine have been Magic Lily and Poetic Charm. Both were trained by Charlie Appleby and ridden by William Buick, having won the Cape Verdi beforehand. More of the same awaits this year with Althiqa, who won the Cape Verdi last time out for Appleby and Buick looks the one to beat. She carries 3lb penalty for that Cape Verdi win, yet she should be capable of confirming the form with those  that renew rivalry. She is a very straightforward, consistent filly and showed a tremendous attitude when winning last time. She did edge a bit to her left under pressure, causing minor interference, but that should not be held against her given her tremendous overall record. Many of her rivals arrive with questions to answer.

13:00 ET Meydan: Gladiator King
Satish Seemar’s runner won this last year and will be much sharper for his comeback run when third to Switzerland in the Dubawi Stakes. He showed plenty of pace there before weakening late on.
He is favoured by the conditions of this race and should get a good set up here, given that Important Mission and Bochart look likely to set a strong pace and Gladiator King should get a decent stalking trip. Important Mission is a big danger given the strong fractions he set last time out, when second to the useful Canvassed. He will be the one to catch from stall 1, but I am hopeful that Gladiator King will run him down late on.

Thursday February 11, 2021: FREE Past Performances

Angus McNae’s Meydan Overview & Selections – Week 4:

Two winners last week meant that we showed a profit here on the weekly Meydan Overview. Hopefully more of the same this week where Round 2 of the Al Maktoum Challenge and the Group 2 Al Rashidiya take centre stage on an excellent card.

Four selections for you this week:

10:05am ET Meydan: Star Safari

I tipped this horse here at Meydan two weeks ago and on his first run for 11 months he shaped like he retains plenty of ability. He was outpaced briefly and hung left when he first came under pressure but then stuck to his task to finish third to Ya Hayati. The step up in trip here should suit given that there is plenty of stamina in his pedigree and he will surely go close to winning here providing William Buick can fashion a decent trip from Stall 11. He was most impressive here last year when beating the useful Franz Kafka and with a recent run behind him he should now be spot on to produce a similar effort.

11:15am ET Meydan: Cappezano

This horse needs to bounce back from two below par efforts this season but this race represents a good opportunity to get back on track. In Round 1 of the Al Maktoum Challenge he went off far too hard in front from a wide draw and understandably paid for his early exertions and was well beaten. He is well drawn here in Stall 1 and will not have to work hard for the lead given the lack of confirmed front-runners in here. As long as Mikael Barzalona gets the fractions right, he could be hard to peg back. Dubai Warrior will be popular, but he has never run on dirt, is drawn wide in Stall 9 and is also not bred for the dirt. To my eye he is more of a synthetic performer. Thegreatcollection is a big danger after his second place in Round 1 of the Challenge where a wide trip didn’t help his cause, if he stays this trip he will be a danger. It is last chance saloon time for Cappezano and I take him to grab the opportunity.

11:50am ET Meydan: Zakouski

This race looks to be paceless. There isn’t a front-runner among them and as such it doesn’t look to be the sort of race that will suit the likely favourite Lord Glitters who took advantage of a pace meltdown last time out. Zakouski, from a good draw in Stall 1, looks likely to be handy if not in front and he can come out on top in what could be a tactical affair. He has some smart form to his name and his second to Lord Glitters last time confirmed his liking for this track. He is 3 pounds better off with Lord Glitters, but more importantly he looks like he could have the run of the race compared to Lord Glitters who needs a strong pace to go at. I take Zakouski in this tactical affair.

12:25pm ET Meydan: Mutaraffa

This is a much weaker race than the one this horse contested last time out when an excellent second to the useful Equilateral and he also had the well fancied Lazuli behind him in third. He faces some pace pressure here from the very fast Caspian Prince, but I fancy he can just get a tow off that old timer and then pick him up late in the race. He is drawn in Stall 5, which would not have been a good draw on this track last week where a high draw was imperative but that was because the rail was out and horses from high draws could easily get to the favoured stands rail. That will not be so easy with the track at its true width this week. Mutaraffa is lightly raced and has clearly had problems but he has strung together two good races in a row now and a repeat of last time will see him win here.

Thursday February 4, 2021: FREE Past Performances

Angus McNae’s Meydan Overview & Selections – Week 3:

The Dubai World Cup Carnival continues this week with the UAE 2000 Guineas taking centre stage on a competitive and interesting card.

I have four selections for you – including my strongest bet of the Carnival so far – in the final race.

9:30am ET Meydan: Canvassed

This race seems to centre on the rematch between Taamol and Lavaspin – Taamol came out on top last month, but Lavaspin is better off at the weights this time. Stall 10 is a big disadvantage for a horse at his best when he leads though, while stall 1 is a hindrance to Taamol as well given he likes to come from just off the pace. He could find himself taking a lot of kickback. I am therefore siding with the Doug Watson-trained Canvassed. He started his career as a four-year-old and made an immediate impression winning easily at Newcastle and Kempton. His career has stalled since, but there were signs of a revival last time when finishing a good third in the Jebel Ali Mile and the drop in trip here could be a good move given how well he can travel. Pat Dobbs seems to prefer him to stable companion Rio Angie and this horse looks set to make the transition to sprinting before going on to better things.

10:05am ET Meydan: Dubai Future

He ran very well at the first meeting of the Carnival when runner-up to Walton Street, and that coming after a four-month break and a gelding operation. Provided he doesn’t bounce out of that, he has an excellent chance here. His run last time deserves marking up given that he was poorly drawn in stall 12 and endured a relatively wide trip. He also made a big move on the home turn in pursuit of the winner who enjoyed an easy lead. That move on the bend cost him vital ground and, although he had no chance with the winner, he would have finished closer had he enjoyed a better trip. Stall 4 affords him the chance to get a much better trip this time and Frankie Dettori can claim another winner here at Meydan.

10:40am ET Meydan: Naval Crown

This is a weak renewal of the UAE 2000 Guineas and, providing Naval Crown does not show a complete aversion to the dirt, should win easily. He lays over his opponents in terms of class, and the fact that he shows early pace in his races and likes to race prominently will be a major asset on this surface. He was a most impressive winner of the Convivial maiden at York last year and was subsequently thought good enough to contest a couple of Grade Three races in France. He was a little keen in both contests and underperformed, but I have little doubt that his potential remains firmly intact. I can see him jumping smartly and making all the running here.

12:25pm ET Meydan: Ehktiyaar

In my opinion, this horse represents the best bet of the Carnival so far this season. He is a very smart sprinter, goes well here and shaped as if all of his ability was intact when finishing fourth to Equilateral at the first meeting of the Carnival. That was over five furlongs and that’s a bit sharp for him, so this step up to six furlongs will be ideal. He won here last season over this trip from a mark of 110 and gets to race off the same rating here. He can also boast a third place in the Nad Al Sheba Trophy where he did best of those from a high draw. This race looks to be well within his grasp and easily rates the best bet on the card.

Thursday January 28, 2021: FREE Past Performances

Angus McNae’s Meydan Overview & Selections – Week 2:

Equilateral was a winner for this overview last week at Meydan on a card that threw up two legitimate World Cup night contenders. Golden Goal lowered the 7 furlong track record on the dirt and as such is in the frame for the Godolphin Mile and Military Law took Round 1 of the Al Maktoum Challenge on the dirt throwing his hat into the ring for the Dubai World Cup itself.

The fillies take centre stage today with the UAE 1000 Guineas on the Dirt and the Cape Verdi on the Turf being the feature events.

Four selections for you this week:

10:40am ET Meydan: Star Safari

A thoroughly competitive Listed contest can go to the lightly raced Star Safari. He has won two of his four starts to date and is open to plenty of improvement. When last seen he won a handicap here off a mark of 94 beating the useful and bang in-form Franz Kafka. He gave the distinct impression that he was still green when winning, running around and hanging under pressure, but still having enough talent to win. He has been raised 5lb for that which should not be enough to stop him. He represents the magical Meydan duo of Charlie Appleby and William Buick and is well drawn in Stall 2. He looks set to go close.

11:15am ET Meydan: Summer Romance

Godolphin have scooped 8 of the last 10 renewals of this Group 2 contest and I think in Stunning Beauty and Summer Romance they have the main protagonists once again. I am with Summer Romance for Charlie Appleby despite the fact Stunning Beauty looks to be a filly of considerable potential being unbeaten in her only two starts. Summer Romance won the Listed Princess Elizabeth Stakes at Epsom last Summer and had been a very useful two-year-old. Indeed, she can boast a win in the Empress Stakes in a very fast time. She is already a more than decent filly who sets the standard can take advantage of a good draw in Stall 1 giving Godolphin yet another win in this contest.

11:50am ET Meydan: Super Chianti

I think there are three players here in Mnasek, Soft Whisper and Super Chianti – and all three won last time out. Mnasek was hugely impressive here on debut having missed the break, routing her rivals. Soft Whisper won the trial for this and will be suited by stepping back up in trip. Super Chianti is the one for me though. Her debut win was achieved whilst idling and although not as impressive as Mnasek, it is interesting that Pat Dobbs sticks with her. Mnasek will struggle up in grade if blowing the break again from Stall 1 and Soft Whisper is not really bred for the dirt and despite winning a weak trial, she may be better on turf. On balance Super Chianti is the value play.

12:25pm ET Meydan: Key Victory

This horse won here at Meydan last season on the back of a 5 month break and comes here once again after a similar layoff. He must only race here off a 2lb higher mark and his last run at Haydock is a “throw out” effort given that he was held up in a race that was run at a crawl. He gives his best efforts when he gets a good gallop to go at and is held up off the pace. He is reasonably well-drawn in Stall 7 to be tucked in and then produced late in the straight at a track that clearly suits him. He can conclude a very good day for the Godolphin blue.

Thursday January 21, 2021: FREE Past Performances

Angus McNae’s Meydan Overview & Selections – Week 1:

The Dubai International Carnival is back. Over the next few months, we will be treated to top-class international racing on the dirt and turf. The Carnival this year is slightly reduced in terms of the number of meetings but it will not be short on quality as we work our way towards Dubai World Cup night in late March.

The beauty of the Carnival is that we get to see a pool of horses regularly trying to stake their claim for a post position on World Cup night and we become familiar, not just with the horses, but with their handlers and the stories therein.

It is an amazing Carnival and it all gets under way on Thursday with the ever popular Al Maktoum Challenge taking centre stage.

9:30am ET Meydan: Rio Angie

The first race of this year’s Carnival provides us with a competitive handicap on the dirt over seven furlongs. Early pace on the surface is crucial at Meydan and Rio Angie has it in spades. She easily landed a handicap here in November at a domestic meeting, recording a fast time in the process. She breaks from stall 9, which is wide enough, but her blistering early pace should see her lead on the rail after a furlong or so and thereafter she could take some pegging back. On the face of it, she looks to be the second string from the Doug Watson yard with stable jockey Pat Dobbs riding Golden Goal. However, Sam Hitchcott rode her to success in November and it is probably just a case of keeping the partnership intact.

10:40am ET Meydan: Gladiator King

Gladiator King took well to racing at Meydan last year, winning both of his starts before running really well when third in Saudi Arabia in the Saudi Sprint. He has solid form claims, plus a good draw in stall 3. His trainer, Satish Seemar, has a sure touch with sprinters, as he showed with the legend that is Reynaldothewizard, and Gladiator King looks classy enough to end up running on World Cup night. His stable companion, Bochart, is a danger, but he is a need-to-lead type and finding that from stall 9 over this trip will not be easy. Gladiator King will be able to adopt a good stalking position and can take this before going on to better things.

11:50am ET Meydan: Cappezano

If this horse had a better draw I would be very keen on him. Stall 10 makes things a little trickier but I think he may still be able to dominate this field and win round 1 of the Al Maktoum Challenge. He has a tremendous record at Meydan and was very impressive when winning the Firebreak Stakes here last season. He is reunited with Michael Barzalona, who rides the dirt at Meydan as well as anybody, and the jockey will have one plan in his mind: break quickly and get across quickly to lead on the rail. If that’s what happens he will be hard to beat. He is worth a play in a race where clearly has the best form.

12:25pm ET Meydan: Glorious Journey

I think this horse can take the Al Fahidi Fort for the second successive year. He impressed with how he travelled last year in beating the useful Mythical Magic. He has not been seen since finishing third in the Group Two Challenge Stakes at Newmarket last season, but he shaped really well on that occasion. On a day when being close to the far rail was important, he raced wide and was ridden patiently in a race that suited those ridden prominently. That run showed that he retains all of his ability and back at Meydan, from a good draw in stall 3 under William Buick, he can retain is crown.

13:00 ET Meydan: Equilateral

Frankie Dettori is back at Meydan with some fancied rides and I think this horse will provide him with a winner. The key to Equilateral is that he needs to be fresh and he has had a nice break since finishing third at Newbury last September. The five furlongs at Meydan also suits him ideally. He was most impressive when he won this race last year under James Doyle, when he was cruising throughout and beat the useful Waady. A repetition of that effort will see him win again and welcome Dettori back to Meydan with a bang.

DUBAI CARNIVAL SCHEDULE

Thursday, 21 January, 2021 9:30am ET

Thursday, 28 January, 2021 9:30am ET

Thursday, 4 February, 2021 9:30am ET

Thursday, 11 February, 2021 9:30am ET

Thursday, 18 February, 2021 9:30am ET

Thursday, 25 February, 2021 9:30am ET

Saturday, 6 March, 2021 – Super Saturday 7:00am ET

Saturday, 27 March, 2021 Dubai World Cup 6:45sm ET

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