The final meeting before the Dubai World Cup card at the UAE’s iconic flagship racecourse and, with the domestic season drawing towards a conclusion, predictably ultra competitive with a handful of contenders perhaps still harbouring hopes of an invitation to the big day itself. Among those would be Thegreatcollection who, trained by Doug Watson, we now know faced a thankless task on his latest two starts, chasing home Capezzano in a pair of 1600m dirt handicaps, the course and distance over which he runs here.
Capezzano, of course, turned Super Saturday’s 2000m Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3 into a procession, so the fact, conceding him weight, Watson’s charge was able to close to within almost two lengths, on his penultimate start, looks a very notable effort. He was then beaten 14 lengths by the same rival but still finished in front of 12 others and is able to race here off a mark 3lb lower than in those two Capezzano defeats. After two lacklustre efforts stable companion, EERC’s (Emirates Entertainment Racing Club) Pillar Of Society, bounced back to form, over this 1600m, a fortnight ago but found George Villiers, trained by Satish Seemar for Mohd Khalifa Al Basti, just too strong in the final 50m.
The latter was making his dirt debut, a surface always likely to suit him on pedigree, on just his third local outing and he looks an exciting prospect on this surface. The weights in the 1200m dirt handicap are again headed by a Watson horse stepping out of the carnival furnace and back into the relative calm of the domestic action. Sheikh Hamdan’s Almanaara is, on his day, undoubtedly very speedy but does seem to show his best when able to get to the front early. That was the case on his latest start when he probably did not stay 1400m but was only caught close home. If able to get to the lead, he is going to be very difficult to catch. Again, as with Thegreatcollection, one of the main dangers may come from within Watson’s Red Stables, in this instance Lytham St Annes, another live chance on the card for Al Basti who, other than Godolphin, is by far the most successful UAE Thoroughbred owner this season.
A 6yo, he was a course and distance winner in December but has produced three lesser efforts subsequently but could certainly bounce back here with a fast gallop guaranteed giving him something at which to take aim in the straight.Almanaara will likely face competition for that lead in the shape of Beachcomber Bay, to be saddled by Seemar and another in the field who, basically, likes to get on with things from the outset. That tactic has served him well with his latest four starts, all over this course and distance, producing two wins, including most recently six weeks ago, and a pair of seconds. In the predominantly yellow silks of Sheikh Ahmed, Call To War lines up for Nicholas Bachalard.
A 1200m Jebel Ali winner in December, having previously chased home Lytham St Annes over that same track and trip, he won a 1200m Meydan dirt handicap in early March last year and should be thereabouts this evening.Salem bin Ghadayer had Pirate’s Cove, another perennial trailblazer, entered in three races, opting for a 1400m handicap in which, drawn four, he might prove hard to catch. All seven races are on the dirt surface, understandably keeping the turf fresh for Dubai World Cup night, with six handicaps for Pick Six players to wrestle with, as well as a 1400m maiden which kicks the action off. And those of you reading this in the weighing room BEWARE: any suspensions incurred this weekend across the three UAE fixtures will encompass the Dubai World Cup meeting!
Race 1: Right Flank
Race 2: Heraldic
Race 3: Top Clearance
Race 4: Salvadori
Race 5: George Villers (Nap)
Race 6: Pirate’s Cove (NB)
Race 7: Shanty Star