Finished 2 of 8 @ 5/1
Stephen Molyneux's Dubai Carnival Analysis
Muntazah was an 11-2 winner for Stephen in last week’s column. On Thursday, the Dubai Carnival rolls into week eight where the Group 2 Zabeel Mile headlines a six-race card. Stephen has four advised bets - now online.
Time is running out to gain that all important World Cup night berth, indeed there are only two Carnival meetings left before Super Saturday - the main trials night - so Thursday feels important for one or two horses with a trio of Group races on the card to aid their cause.
The highlight is the Group 2 Zabeel Mile (16:50), featuring top level victors from South Africa and Australia but hitherto that form hasn’t travelled well. Janoobi and Championship have already won this race and ran first and second in the contest 12 months ago, but it hasn’t exactly been plain sailing for either since, with Janoobi notably disappointing. I actually give Championship a half decent chance in this at the prices, and leading outright would certainly aid his cause, although Janoobi is a potential nuisance on that score. Championship has only had the one start this season, and will improve plenty for it, as many do from the yard.
He predictably faces a blue wave if not quite as intimidating a challenge as Godolphin have often offered up this Carnival. Mythical Magic is the choice of William Buick and was a good second to D’Bai at this level on his reappearance. His only failure to reach a placing came in a Group 1 over in France and he will be a tough nut to crack.
Wootton will be having his first start for Charlie Appleby which is interesting. His two best runs came when fourth in the French Guineas and third in the St James’s Palace Stakes but neither race exactly threw up a stack of winners, indeed the first four home in each failed to win a race again last season. That said, he has potential and we have already seen what Appleby has done with a couple of lesser acquisitions this Carnival.
Century Dream has the highest official rating in the field and it will be interesting to see if he can justify that, his best effort coming when third to Roaring Lion in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. Some of his runs, such as that and his fourth in the Queen Anne, came in a weak division suggesting he could be vulnerable to anything with a touch of class but it would be hard to argue that this field contains a runner with such an edge.
Going against Godolphin is going against the grain but I will take CHAMPIONSHIP to try and make all and win this for a second time.
No such fool-hardiness required in the Group 3 Dubai Millennium Stakes (15:40) as Godolphin are responsible for six of the eight runners. First Nation produced a very impressive performance to win on his reappearance and had a couple of subsequent Carnival winners well beaten off.
He is the choice of four for William Buick and it could just be that he has thrived out in Dubai, but that performance did come on the backdrop of a career that had no more than ambled along and in his thirteen previous outings he’d hardly looked a Group 2 winner in the making.
His three stable mates were all winners last time, all in handicap company and Spotify could again enjoy a tactical edge having made all last time on his stable debut. He could repeat the trick but expect Saeed bin Suroor’s RACING HISTORY to keep tabs on him and that is where my vote goes.
He has gone well in two starts this year behind Dream Castle and my feeling is Dream Castle would win this comfortably. Racing History has been very highly tried for much of his career and this could be the perfect opportunity for him to get that deserved win.
The UAE Oaks (16:15) is the other Group race on the card, featuring many of the same fillies who went to post in the UAE 1000 Guineas. Silva was the impressive winner that day at odds of 33/1 so it might feel a touch foolhardy to be taking anything around 2/1 now but surely the bookmakers have overreacted in putting in Divine Image a shorter price than her with the best part of ten lengths to make up.
Yes, she missed the break badly and effectively ended her chance there and then but what is to say she won’t do the same again and she probably had quite a hard race in making up the ground she did.
Silva on the other hand is already proven at the trip and with so many green and inexperienced fillies on her inside, stall ten needn’t be the barrier it can sometimes be. For me this is a case of swap the trainers around and you can swap the prices around, so SILVA is readily preferred.
I am a touched loathed to give up on the likes of Al Shamkhah and Razeena who I am convinced are much better than they have shown so far and if there is to be a shock then they could be the ones to provide it. Al Shamkhah has the blinkers on now but she simply hasn’t faced the kickback at all yet and stall 1 does her no favours whilst Razeena ran so poorly last time that it does require a leap of faith, although her debut promise is still fresh in the mind.
A cheeky reverse forecast on the pair wouldn’t be the worst social play in the world but Silva is the solid one.
The card kicks off at 14:30 with the tricky dirt Jaguar F Pace Handicap over 7f, these dirt handicaps have certainly raised their game this Carnival. Early double-figure quotes about Rodaini were soon taken and 5/1 is his price back under what I perceive to be his optimum conditions.
Bochart is another that can be forgiven for his last run having stumbled whilst African Ride has shaped as though getting to grips with the dirt and is now well drawn to attack. They would be my shortlist but difficult to whittle it down any further.
High draws have been the order of the day on the straight course for the last couple of meetings, Riflescope and Mazzini both visually impressive on a strip of ground that could well have been riding quicker than the rest of the track (said strip is where all the turf training is done so the ground could easily be more compact).
The acid test will be in the 15:05, the Land Rover Discovery Handicap, with Riflescope again in action although now drawn more towards the center. I would fancy Legendary Lunch to reverse form, he has thrived of late and followed his second placing to Riflescope with a victory in a Listed race in Abu Dhabi. He has a double-figure draw now and rated higher in his days with Richard Hannon so he could well win again.
Dream Today tanked through his last race when third to Mazzini although ended up away from the action. That could again happen from stall 4 but he and Legendary Lunch, one from either side of the track, would be the way I play this sprint handicap with no massive amount of conviction.
The finale, the Range Rover Velar Handicap, could well rest between the two Godolphin trainers, I am sure you have heard that before, with Symbolization and Bedouin’s Story the two most likely for Charlie Appleby and Saeed bin Suroor respectively.
Symbolization had a rough run round on his reappearance but still shaped well in fourth behind Nordic Lights and he was thought good enough to run in the Irish 2000 Guineas less-we-not forget.
Bedouin’s Story is a tricky sort who probably should have won on his reappearance and covered plenty of ground when a staying on fourth to Escalator more recently. That wasn’t quite as eyecatching, but he could easily bounce back if getting the breaks. SYMBOLIZATION just looks a much better horse, however, and despite top weight, can give Appleby another winner.
STEPHEN's Best Bets (scale 1-5 points):
1pt win RACING HISTORY (7-2 general)
1pt win SILVA (11-4 Bet Victor, Coral, Ladbrokes, 5-2 Unibet)
1pt win CHAMPIONSHIP (14-1 general)
1pt win SYMBOLIZATION (100-30 Bet Victor, Unibet, 3-1 general)
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