We have a fine mix of pre-Cheltenham jumps racing and top-class flat action on Saturday, and we are getting stuck into quite a bit of it.
There are some nice prices available on a few of these selections, so it’s a mouth-watering Saturday of racing action and we begin out east in the heat of the UAE:
12.35 Meydan (Dubai City of Gold – Group 2) – DUBAI WARRIOR
It’s Super Saturday in Dubai, the last of Meydan’s Carnival meetings before Dubai World Cup day at the end of the month.
This is a valuable mile-and-a-half Group 2 race, one in which at the prices we can take a chance on the talented Dubai Warrior for John Gosden and Frankie Dettori.
Last year’s Winter Derby winner has so far shown himself to be better on the all-weather than on turf, but has only run on the grass twice making that too small a sample of his form. His second turf run was decent, a fifth at Listed level and while he bombed out on the dirt last time, he remains a horse of some considerable promise.
He was a close-up third not so long ago behind Sangarius and Bangkok, he will be well-ridden and can perhaps get the better of Walton Street and Dubai Future at nice odds.
1.30 Kelso (Premier Novices’ Hurdle – Grade 2) – ANY NEWS
This is an interesting novices’ hurdle over 2¼ miles, one in which there may be an underestimated contender. That contender is Neil Mulholland’s Any News and he is backed to score at what looks an attractive price.
His main rivals have had as many chances as he has now, he has shown better speed figures than they have and so considering he’s done that on softer ground he may well prove to be the class act. He’s also highest rated and yet gets a weight from a couple of his competitors.
He was beaten last time when favourite, hence his place in the market, but that was at Cheltenham and the form should hold up well, while he can also improve further himself.
In with a chance but skinny in the market is My Drogo for the Skelton’s, while Lucky One is not out of this and Bareback Jack remains in great form.
2.00 Lingfield (Spring Cup – Listed Race) – MEGALLAN
A nice race for the three-year-olds, one in which it was a pleasant surprise to see the name Megallan listed.
John Gosden’s colt is by Kingman but out of a Champs Elysees mare and he was trained more for stamina as a juvenile. An improver, he was a little unlucky not to get closer to the smart One Ruler when a close-up fourth in a good renewal of the Autumn Stakes at Newmarket which shows the level he is at.
His trainer is far too good and far too patient to bring a horse out for an experiment, so it may well be that this chap has been showing more speed in his work than expected, something that happens to Kingman’s. If he carries on his upward curve over this quick and tight seven furlongs, he could be too good for them.
Yazaman is a speedy type who could get involved here, while Ryan Moore’s mount Thank You Next is in the mix along with To The Bar.
2.20 Meydan (Jebel Hatta – Group 1) – AL SUHAIL
As a team overall, Godolphin know what is needed to win this Group 1 race and Will Buick as a jockey is certainly in red-hot form already this year. They get together with Charlie Appleby’s Al Suhail and it could be that we are seeing the emergence of a truly top-class type.
A close third in the Solario just behind subsequent Guineas winner Kameko, Al Suhail worked incredibly well last spring and was brought back in a hurry and supplemented into the Guineas with a chance.
That didn’t work out, but in winning the Sir Henry Cecil Stakes in July easily he showed himself to be a very smart colt indeed, and while he’s had a problem and has been off the track since, he can take a quick leap to the top of the racing ranks now.
The consistent Court House can pinch a place along with Lord Glitters, while Art Du Val needs to improve but can show up well.
3.30 Meydan (Nal Al Sheba Turf Sprint – Group 3) – ROYAL CRUSADE
The closing race at Meydan is this Group 3 sprint over six furlongs, one in which Royal Crusade can now come of age.
Always talented, the four-year-old Shamardal colt has had his problems to deal with resulting in him being lightly raced. He became a Group 3 winner in France last season though and is nowhere near his peak, so this could be another one for Godolphin, Charlie Appleby and William Buick.
Behind him, the three-year-old Acklam Express can go well along with Godolphin’s second-string Man Of Promise, though he has a wide draw to overcome.
12.30 Santa Anita (Santa Anita Handicap – Grade 1) – MAXFIELD
Over in California, one of the biggest races of the year for older horses is taking place, affectionately known as Big ‘Cap. The Santa Anita Handicap, a top-level event over a mile-and-a-quarter, has attracted a decent field although it’s unusual to see no major Bob Baffert contender among the principals.
Idol and Express Train are interesting, while one-time Triple Crown contender Independence Hall realised his potential last time with a fine effort behind Knicks Go in the Pegasus World Cup.
The one we like, and have always liked, is Maxfield. Once favourite for the Kentucky Derby before one of two injury’s struck, he remains unbeaten in his career and now finally gets to prove how good he is with a race in genuine Grade 1 company.
The Breeders’ Cup Classic is his ultimate goal, and this will go a long way towards telling us what sort of chance he has in that event later in the year.