Author: Stephen Molyneux

It has been covered before, the lack of opportunities on turf, so I will not dredge up old ground, but it was no coincidence to me that the three best performances last week, or at least the three most stunning performances visually, came on turf. They weren’t confined to the Dubai World Cup Carnival, either, although the first performance I refer to was produced by Universal Order who looks a Trade Storm in the making. Trade Storm had a higher starting base, 104 to be precise, and plenty more experience, but he thrived in Dubai over several carnivals and Universal Order quickened up in the style of one who can continue progressing through the ranks. The eventual second and third were always well placed close to the pace but they were swept aside by the 4yo who came from the back to make it five wins from eight starts.

He has only gone up 5lb which grossly masked his superiority in my opinion, and he is one to follow. Moving on to Saturday and whilst it is very easy to get carried away with winners, both Franz Kafka and Chiefdom produced stunning performances granted their first opportunities to run on the turf at Meydan this season. Franz Kafka had the season up and running for Simon Crisford and the way he surged clear of his field having dominated from the front was very impressive. Crisford mentioned afterwards about switching him to the dirt, and his relentless style of galloping could certainly see him take to the surface, but his low to the ground powerful action is also well suited to the turf and this strong sort should be up to defying a 7lb rise.

Chiefdom went up 9lb for winning by a similar distance, the shorter trip of 1600m meaning the pounds per length are greater for those wondering, and he too could still be well treated. It will be interesting to see if he is now persevered with on turf given his progress so far had been comparable on dirt, but there is no doubt for me that the turn of foot he unleashed is more becoming to him staying on the green stuff. Those two performances on Saturday, as well as a very competitive finish to the sprint handicap on turf, does make you wish for more, and it also makes you wonder just how many horses are stuck in the system unable to fulfill their full potential because of a lack of opportunities. Saturday’s card was always going to be oversubscribed given we have now missed two Jebel Ali meetings, in fact each race could have been filled twice, but one perplexing fact regards the card came in the fourth race which was a handicap for horses rated 65-79.

The highest rated horse was only rated 73 so to my mind, the highest rated horse should have carried the standard top weight of 60kg. But no, the top weight was 57kg, the weight said horse would have had to carry should a horse rated 79 have been declared. Why weren’t the weights raised? It was a fact brought up by Pat Dobbs in a feature Dubai Racing Channel did with him a few weeks ago and he makes an excellent point. Dobbs has one of the heavier base weights in the weighing room and had the ratings range been greater in this contest then many would have been carrying less than the 55kg Dobbs is comfortably able to do. As things transpired, Doug Watson saddled one of the top weights, so Dobbs was ok, but Jim Crowley couldn’t ride, Dane O’Neill put up 1kg overweight and Sean Kirrane was only able to claim 2kg of his 3kg allowance.

In an age where jockey health, mentally and physically, is front page news, a needless struggle to do low weights is not something that should be encouraged, particularly at this time of year where in Dubai it seems as though weight becomes more of an issue as a couple of months of just riding a couple of days a week takes it toll on staying light.

Stephen Molyneux
Dubai Racing Channel

Turf Marvels