Time For The Richest Race Meeting On The Planet


For more years than I care to mention now I have been travelling to Dubai (on and off) to cover the most valuable horse race meeting on the planet and this year looks as competitive as ever with horses from all over the World making it a truly International race day worthy of all the media attention.

Although I will naturally focus on the chances of the European challengers life is never quite that simple and with the World Cup run on dirt these days (presumably to attract the Americans), we need to look elsewhere for the winner of the big one that rounds off Saturday’s card.

Firstly, I need to point out that the weather here has cooled a fair bit in recent days with (can you believe it) rain forecast on both Friday and race day, but all that means is they have stopped watering and it seems unlikely to make a lot of difference to the underfoot conditions. What it will do is suit the Europeans who aren’t used to the hot temperatures of earlier in the week, and we clearly have some very serious challengers on the turf at least.

I did go to track work a couple of times, but the truth is other than their general wellbeing, I am not sure what I am looking at (you need to know the horses inside out for changes in their demeanor and that’s impossible when they come from all over the place), but I did sense a positive buzz from the Aidan O’Brien team and although I haven’t managed to pick any of their runners, a winner at a big price on race day won’t come as any massive shock to most of us at Meydan this morning.

Postponed -looks “our” best chance.

Going through the card carefully (comparing foreign form is like trying to get across a minefield on a pogo stick), it looks like a day for each way chances to me and if one of them lands in first place we can clear up and walk away in profit, though I won’t be holding my breath (and cant bet in Dubai anyway), though I’m sure my friends back home will help me out if needed! Ignoring the Arab race that actually starts the card whatever the racing press say, and we start the “proper” card with the Godolphin Mile (11.45am) where 16/1 chance Second Summer looks the value call. Dropping back to a mile here he is a good deal better than he showed last time out when seventh to Long River over a mile and a quarter and if this is run at the furious pace expected he could well steal a place at a big price on the night though to small stakes all day, this is one tough tough card to call!

Talking to shrewder judges than me and there are almost as many opinions as horses ahead of the Dubai Gold Cup that comes up next on the card (12.50pm). Vazirabad took it last year for France and is favourite to do so again and is clearly going to prove very hard to beat. Famous Kid has slim each way chances or so I am told (I can’t see it myself), but I have finally come down on the side of Sheikzayedroad, David Simcock’s eight-year-old who is officially the highest rated horse in the race (alongside Heartbreak City), yet still available at a double figure price back home. Although he finished behind both Beautiful Romance and Vazirabad in third here last month that was his first run since October and if he improves for it as expected he has each way written all over him in my book and could even shock the better fancied runners.

Next up we have out first race on the dirt with the UAE Derby which has a really international field one again this year and representatives from England, America, Ireland, UAE, Japan, and Uruguay. It’s another difficult one to call with Thunder Snow strongly fancied locally and Mike de Kock expecting a much improved effort from Fawree but I’m drawn to Todd Pletcher’s Master Plan who is stepping up in class but hasn’t travelled over from America without good reason and ought to go well at the very least though being British I’m not overly confident with any of the races on the dirt.

Arrogate – superstar in action.

The Al Quoz sprint is the first race that really catches the eye personally with Ertijaal the red hot favourite after finishing second to Buffering last year when the race was run over five furlongs. The increase to a sixth won’t be an issue and he is in hot form after wining very easily here in February by two and three quarter lengths from Jungle Cat. It is easy to see why he heads the market but we have a serious challenger in Henry Candy’s Limato who was last seen trying a mile in the Breeders Cup at Santa Anita when a one paced sixth. He has won over six and seven furlongs and can count the July Cup and Prix de la Foret (both Group One) among his six wins as he approaches the one million pound mark in win and place prize money. He has a solid chance but I’m on the side of the John Size trained Amazing Kids at a much bigger price (and you guessed it, each way). His trainer only ventures away from Hong Kong when he feels his horses have a very serious chance and their sprinters are as good as any the world over, and with the “magic man” Joao Moreira in the saddle he can surprise then all this afternoon.

Skipping through the Golden Shaheen where I have precious little idea of the winner but I can pass on that jockey Chris Hayes seems pretty bullish about the chances of Morawij who seems over priced, and on to the Dubai Turf which looks to be Europe’s to lose. French challenger Zarak heads the betting after an impressive win here in the Group Three Dubai Millennium Stakes here in February. That form could well be enough to see him score here but there are just too many variables for my liking and I may well use this race as a chance to regroup and just sit back and watch.

Saving the best two races to last and what do we all make of the Dubai Sheema Classic? Postponed won it last year and is back again in 2017, but he was surprisingly beaten in his prep run here last month raising a few eyebrows in the process. That may have put him spot on for this challenge and much as I have tried I cannot find a way to oppose him though I do expect a big run from Irish Derby winner Jack Hobbs who still has more improvement in him and he could well be the one for the forecast.

Naturally, they have saved the best for last with the $10,000,000 Dubai World cup and the small matter of £4,878,048.78 for the winner, and that’s after the fall in the pound! It is the most important race on the card, it is the most valuable, and it is the one we have all come to see – but it also looks the most one sided. American raider Arrogate finished third to Westbrook on his debut but hasn’t tasted defeat in six races since, winning the Traverts Stakes by thirteen and a half lengths, the Breeders Cup Classic by half a length from California Chrome, and most recently the much hyped Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park. Thanks to the crazy prize money of these three races he is moving towards the record for career winnings for nay horse after just his eighth start. If he wins here as seems more than likely, he will crash through the £14,000,000 mark which is ridiculous, but as he runs in what we all see as the Frankel colours, I’ll be cheering home another superstar along with the rest of the sell out crowd.


Sean Trivass was a guest of the Dubai Racing Club and would like to thank them for their help and hospitality.



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