ROBERT GARNER, on his annual racing sojourn, sniffed around in Dubai this week. He sets the scene for the richest race day on the globe and gives some betting advice.
He writes: South African horses are set to make headlines yet again at the world’s richest race meeting in Dubai on Saturday night.
As usual, it’s going to be a spectacular celebration of horseracing as top horses from all over the globe bid to land a share of the $27.25-million prize money of offer. And when the battle’s done in the $10-million Dubai World Cup, superstar singer and actress Jennifer Lopez will bring down the curtain on the 2014 edition of the desert extravaganza with a full-length concert.
A scene we’d like to see: Shea Shea and Christophe Soumillon in the winner’s box on DWC night. (Andrew Watkins).
South Africa’s best shots at glory lie with Variety Club and Soft Falling Rain in the $1-million Godolphin Mile and Shea Sheas in the $1-million Al Quoz Sprint.
Soft Falling Rain, one of eight Mike de Kock runners carded for the meeting, won the race last year and this time round does not have to contend with a wide draw. And there’s a second South African runner in the line-up in high-class Variety Club, who has a huge chance in spite of a wide draw.
Shea Shea, like Soft Falling Rain, is chasing back-to-back victories and the outside draw should be the ace in his pack. Let’s go through it race by race:
Race 1: Arabians. De Kock’s international stable jockey Christophe Soumillon rides Mushrae and looks to be on the right one. Mushrae and last year’s winner Al Mamun Monlau spearhead the opposition.
Race 2: Godolphin Mile and South Africans Soft Falling Rain and Variety Club are set to dominate ahead of Elleval. Preference for Soft Falling Rain.
Race 3: Gold Cup over 3200m. Godolphin’s Cavalryman was too good last year and we should be treated to an action replay. Looks the best bet of the meeting.
Race 4: UAE Derby. Aidan O’Brian has sent Giovanni Boldini, runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf for males last November, all the way from Ireland. This son of War Front should win if he handles the synthetic track – take a chance that he will. Godolphin’s Long John may capitalise if he doesn’t.
Race 5: Al Quoz Sprint. Very little between Shea Shea and Sole Power on form to date, but De Kock’s runner has the better draw and that could prove decisive. Have a bet. Respect Amber Sky’s sheer speed.
Race 6: Half of Dubai seems to be tipping Reynaldothewizard to follow up on last year’s win, but he’s eight years old and Hong Kong raider Sterling City looks a better proposition in a competitive race and expect a solid run from Jamesie.
Race 7: One of the toughest races and virtually any one can win. Unbeaten Vercingetorix was the choice until he drew No 11 in the starting-gate. More liking now for classy mare The Fugue, while Trade Storm looks good eachway value at the current odds.
Race 8: Sheema Classic. Gentildonna beat Denim And Ruby a nose in the Japan Cup last year but her rival is better drawn now and could turn the tables. Gets the vote ahead of Magician, who beat The Fugue in the 2000m Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita last year but has not run since, Excellent Result and Mars.
Race 9: The big one. 2013 Epsom Derby winner Ruler Of The World is the class but hasn’t run for nearly six months and it’s tough to win on this surface after such a layoff. Consequently more liking for Hong Kong’s Military Attack and don’t write off Sanshaawes, who loves the synthetic track.
– Robert Garner is General Manager, Marketing, for Phumelela Gaming and Leisure and erstwhile Racing Editor of The Star in Johanesburg.