Meydan Racecourse in Dubai stages 12 meetings each season, starting in October and culminating on Dubai World Cup Night in April. Each meeting offers a minimum prize fund of £1 Million AED.
The latest meeting at Meydan takes place on Thursday 30 January, with the highlights on the card being the Grade 2 Al Rashidiya Sponsored By Hamdan Bin Mohammed Cruise Terminal and the Meydan Cup Sponsored By P & O Marinas Listed Handicap.
Al Rashidiya Sponsored By Hamdan Bin Mohammed Cruise Terminal (15.05)
Seven runners are set to go to post for what looks a weak group 2 on paper. The weakest runner of all looks to be Sharpalo, who is rated just 101 and hasn’t won a race since 2016. He was well-beaten last time over three furlongs further than today’s trip and would be a shock winner.
Trainer Mike De Kock has enjoyed success in this race in the past, but his Majestic Mambo was well-beaten on his seasonal debut last year by another one of today’s opponents. De Kock also used to train Light The Lights but he’s never won a Grade 2 and will do well to win this for his new trainer after a year off the track.
That leaves us with four Godolphin-owned runners, two of each of which are trained by Saeed Bin Suroor and Charlie Appleby.
Suroor is another trainer to have saddled the winner of this race on several occasions but his Mountain Hunter is normally better over further. That’s why Suroor’s best chance of another success lies with Dream Castle. The 6-year-old was on fire at this time at Meydan last season but his form tailed-off after and he didn’t look back to his best when running here two weeks ago. He could take a step forward this time but needs to.
Loxley represents Appleby but this former Group 2 winner in France is normally seen to better effect over further and has been struggling to get his head in front recently.
That’s why Appleby looks to have better chances with former Group 1 winner Barney Roy. He would win this easily win this at his best, but he didn’t look as good on his return from a failed career at stud in his three starts in Europe last season. However, he’ll be tough to beat even in that form and there’s a chance the Meydan Sun will have re-energized him.
Free Racing Tip: Barney Roy @ 1.80 PaddyPower
Meydan Cup Sponsored By P & O Marinas Listed Handicap (15.40)
The first thing to note about this race is it’s a handicap, so all the runners are getting a fair chunk of weight form the class horse Dee Ex Bee.
Secret Advisor has won over today’s trip of 14-furlongs, but he ran poorly over the same trip when last seen and is making his Meydan debut after an absence since that run in July. Zamman has plenty of experience at Meydan but would be a shock winner after going 11 races here without a win, many in lower-class affairs.
Dubai Horizon is another that needs to find some improvement, but that could come from a step up in trip and a chance to carry a much lower weight that in his last race. But he was still beaten a long way there and was beaten a long way behind Universal Soldier at an earlier meeting at Meydan.
The question Universal Soldier needs to answer is will he be as good over this trip as when winning over 12 furlongs here at Meydan last time, as he was beaten on his one previous try over it.
Dubhe is the opposite in that he steps down in trip, having looked outpaced over half-a-mile shorter on his first run at Meydan this season. Only time will tell if he can take on some more established performers.
It’s possible to make a case for Mekong (also under new ownership) who has a 6lb pull for being beaten just under two lengths by the Dee Ex Bee at Sandown last season. But the former Sir Michael Stoute-trained 5-year-old never looked like winning that day.
But Dee Ex Bee chased home Stradivarius three times last season and meets nothing of that class here. His new trainer will do well to improve a horse that used to be with Mark Johnston but may not need to as Dee Ex Bee is expected to relish the sweeping bends and long straight at Meydan and should be tough to beat.