Author: Stephen Molyneux

SUPER SATURDAY, and thus the end of the carnival, seems to come around quicker each year but here we are again and it’s now not far off being a matter of days rather than weeks before the Dubai World Cup. It does give us an opportunity to reflect on the carnival and identify who or what has made the headlines over the last three months. I don’t suppose we can start without highlighting just what a good Carnival it has been for Charlie Appleby again, even amidst the disappointment of defeat, and the heartbreak of Brundtland last week, Appleby has still invariably emerged with the winner. A tally of 18 winners from 68 runners is nothing short of remarkable, and a strike rate that would have been much higher but for the fact he was multiply represented in several races.

He will be a big presence on Super Saturday and Dubai World Cup night again, scarily, with horses that haven’t even been seen at the carnival. Given Appleby’s success, obviously there has to be a jockey that has benefitted from it all, that initially being James Doyle with William Buick suspended for the few meetings, but Buick has more than made up for lost time since his return posting ten winners from 20 rides, even my maths can tell you that is a 50% strike rate. Having the best horse helps, yes, but rarely can you think of an example where either Buick or Doyle left anything to chance, both riding with supreme confidence. I should also mention Connor Beasley in this breath as Beasley has more than taken the opportunities that have come his way.

Five winners could have been more, he may be quite harsh on himself and feel he left one out there with Golden Jaguar, but he has certainly emerged as a ‘go to’ jockey for some of the Europeans and he will be hoping to continue that momentum back in England this summer. South Korea may only go home with the one winner to their name from this season, Dolkong impressive last week, but I feel they aren’t far off from being a regular threat, particularly in the dirt races if bringing the right horses. Obviously at times that can be a big if, and they are one jurisdiction that races simultaneously to the carnival so attracting the good quality runners isn’t that easy, but they are very well equipped to cope with the demands of dirt racing at Meydan given their pedigrees and toughness.

Handling a deep surface in Korea stands them in good stead, and as we saw with Dolkong, once they get used to the quicker conditions here in Dubai, they are very tough competitors. Syndicates have been a big part of this year, both those based locally and from abroad and it is good to see that they have largely paid their way. This certainly applies to the Melbourne 10 who brought a solid team of handicappers over and head home with one winner and six further runners who finished in the first four, a more than healthy return on their investment you would hope. They have already suggested they will be back, and they certainly added much needed colour to proceedings. I started the carnival, or maybe it was one week into the carnival, by questioning the depth of talent in the sprint division and little has changed to alter my view on that score, indeed, as was the case 12 months ago, several of the Europeans headed home half way through.

One can hope that the emergence of some good local sprinters can help swell the talent pool for next year and that travelers aren’t put off by the presence of quality horses towards the head of the weights. In the same breath, but at the opposite end of the trip spectrum, staying races continue to underwhelm with Godolphin dominating this particular division. Things may not have gone well for the overseas raiders, but there challenge was hardly a strong one to start with and surely anyone with any foresight can identify this as being a winnable set of races.

Stephen Molyneux
Dubai Racing Channel

Carnival Done And Dusted For Another Year