For open-minded horse racing fans, this weekend is real treat. We have top-level Flat race on both turf and dirt from as far west as the USA to as far east as Dubai.
There is also an excellent jump racing card at Doncaster where the Sky Bet Chase is featured, while it’s also Trials Day at Cheltenham as plans are firmed up for the Festival in March.
Friday 28th January 2022
2.00 Huntingdon (Handicap Hurdle) – LEGAL RIGHTS
The weather is apparently drying the course out ahead of this two-and-a-half-mile handicap hurdle. With that, the superior speed shown by Gary Moore’s Legal Rights versus the rest of the field at the weights could come in more than handy.
He’s in fine form anyway and is in fact on a hat-trick, one more win not being beyond him here. Present Value and Sherborne were also considered.
2.35 Meydan (Graduate Stakes – Conditions Race) – EASTERN WORLD
After winning a handicap in good style at this meeting last year, Eastern World went off as favourite for the Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster.
Now with Ahmad bin Harmash having moved from Charlie Appleby and Godolphin, he’s been switched to dirt and could be about to reach a whole new level.
On his dirt debut in December, he was a very good second, but was too highly tried in a Group 2 last time. His best performances have been when he runs close to the pace, leading from at least three furlongs out before, which will suit the way this track has been riding of late. Ray Dawson rides.
3.50 Lingfield (Handicap) – ENFRANCHISE
Some of us managed to claw in a nice chunk when Enfranchise was inexplicably allowed to go off at 20/1 when winning last November. Now, after two fine recent runs, she looks ready to win again.
She’s improving overall, likes it at Lingfield and has the speed to cope, making her the selection ahead of Classy Dame and Fountain Cross.
4.20 Meydan (Zabeel Turf – Listed Race) – WIRKO
Star Safari is the hot favourite here having chased home runaway winner Dubai Future two weeks ago, form that is important in the earlier 3.10 in which Kemari is a hot favourite. The pair are both six-year-olds however and it may be that the race wasn’t as good as we first thought.
Star Safari now steps down to a mile-and-a-quarter, which isn’t guaranteed to suit, and gives away 7lbs to Wirko and ten to Dubai Mirage.
Dubai Mirage ultimately may prove simply not to be good enough, however Wirko deserves another chance especially at the likely odds.
A good winner over Technique at Epsom last season, much was expected of the Kingman gelding and was showing up well at home alongside Kemari, Hurricane Lane, Adayar and Yibir.
He didn’t perform at all here last time, but his jockey reported him to be far too free at more than one point in the race. He should have blown that out of his system now, steps down to a suitable 1¼ miles and was described by Charlie Appleby as a horse who would improve as the Carnival goes on.
6.05 Meydan (Dubai Sprint – Listed Race) – LAZULI
Lazuli is being aimed at the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint on Dubai World Cup Night in March and there is no doubting how good his team thinks he is. He has proven it in part; winning the Group 3 Palace House Stakes last year and reaching a mark of 112.
He is capable of better than that for sure and, just like last autumn’s Group 1-winning stablemate Creative Force, is just learning to sprint properly now.
He goes well fresh and could be value in what looks on paper to be a competitive Listed race. Mutaraffa, Man Of Promise and Line Of Departure are also interesting.
Saturday 29th January 2022
3.20 Doncaster (Sky Bet Handicap Chase – Listed Race) – KAPCORSE
Seventeen horses line-up for this ultra-competitive handicap, one in which a number of the class horses at the top are also two or 2½-mile specialists meaning the pace should be very strong.
With that, we can expect this three-mile affair to be tough going. While several are interesting including Hurricane Harvey, Grand Sancy and Fusil Raffles, the one I like best is JP McManus’s horse Kapcorse.
Lightly raced having had problems, Paul Nicholls’ runner came back from a year off to score in very fine style over 2m6½f at Newbury in November. He shaped as though this trip will suit, the ground is fine and he should prove to be a good deal better than his current handicap rating.
6.00 Kempton (Handicap) – LAFAN
Kempton’s evening card has a couple of decent events on it, this one providing us with a betting opportunity in the shape of Lafan.
Richard Hannon’s four-year-old has shown a consistent level of speed, appears to be moving a few pounds ahead of his rating and recorded his last win over this track and trip last October.
Kempton should bring about his A-game you’d feel, putting him in pole position to beat Alhammaamm, Stately Home and Espresso Fredo.
9.49 Gulfstream Park (Pegasus World Cup Turf – Grade 1) – COLONEL LIAM
Florida hosts the Pegasus World Cup and its associated events, the Filly & Mare Turf and this nine-furlong turf race for the colts.
Having looked at the quality, I can’t help thinking a number of British-trained horses would have made light work of the majority of this field, with the best one being Colonel Liam who should have too much on the day.
The combination of Todd Pletcher and Irad Ortiz Jr is a fine one too and they can land the £400,000 first prize, possibly at the expense of the ex-Richard Fahey runner Space Traveller.
10.34 Gulfstream Park (Pegasus World Cup – Grade 1) – LIFE IS GOOD
The big one on the dirt is worth more than £1.3 million and it really does come down to the very good winners of two races at November’s Breeders’ Cup.
Knicks Go was super-impressive in taking the Classic, while Life Is Good took the Dirt Mile in very easy fashion.
It’s tough to choose between them, but Life Is Good can still draw out more I feel and could just be value if all the money goes onto his rival, something that in the States can drive the odds for our horse up significantly.