Photo: Dubai Racing Club/Andrew Watkins
Today, I take a look at the Godolphin Mile and the UAE Derby with his guest, Calum Madell, as the duo try to unearth the plays you need to be making on the international race night. The first of a three part article series.......
Dan : A fantastic international roll call at Meydan for Dubai World Cup night, and what better a time than now to take an in-depth look at the initial entries for the event. I'm joined for the first time by Calum Madell, who you can find on Twitter (@calummadell) where he often offers up fantastic insight and opinions on all things international. Calum, we start with the Godolphin Mile, for which I know you have a strong opinion. Calum : It's a good race but I'd be surprised if the winner didn't come from the first three in the market. It's Soft Falling Rain for me. The winner of this last year, despite getting a very troubled passage throughout the race. He ran okay over six furlongs on his return this year and that should put him spot on for this. His UK form has been knocked, but the ground was too soft at Ascot on Champions Day, he needed his run at Newbury and in between he was a very impressive winner of the Joel Stakes at Newmarket.
Dan : As the saying goes, you can only beat what is put in front of you and his defeat of Montiridge - a very fit and ready version, at that - was very good considering he had been on the go since January. I have my doubts over him, but I feel the Super Saturday run was a bid to try and shape him back into a sprinting prospect for a weak Golden Shaheen, but he has gone past those days now and is a very credible mile prospect for World Cup night and beyond. Can he stop the queen of tapeta though?
Calum : An interesting view. I think he's an extremely good horse and will admit my heart is very much with him along with my head. Shuruq is a totally different filly on the tapeta, winning both her starts on the surface last year. There was certainly no fluke about her victory over Variety Club last time.
Dan : Variety Club concerns me for all the wrong reasons. I feel they have to run on World Cup night, after all of the time spent waiting and the long drawn out quarantine process, but this is such a weak end to what should've been a rich raid on Dubai. It's a great race, and a competitive one at that, but I don't see how he turns the form around with Shuruq here and he really does look vulnerable.
Calum : I totally agree. I have niggling doubts about the suitability of this test, his third run in only five or six weeks, the experience of his jockey around here and whether he's even good enough. That just builds into one big doubt about him winning.
Dan : He's an interesting type for a European raid going forward, but a mile on the tapeta just isn't for me. He hasn't lived up to the early promised. What do we think of Surfer? If he ever gets a break from the draw he must run a huge race?
Calum : You really have a soft spot for him don't you? He was beaten nearly six lengths in this last year, is there enough to suggest he's in any better form this time around?
Dan : I think he really deserved the break for a local trainer, he earned a World Cup start in my opinion. That said, his form this year stacks up well. Whilst he went into the Godolphin Mile last year with two strong performances behind Hunter's Light, those were from good starting berths and he had every chance. This year he has won a race - as with every other year - but his third place behind Prince Bishop from the widest stall of all speaks a lot louder. Wind that race back a few yards and he's probably the winner of Round 3, so he has to be of interest in that spot.
Calum : I personally don't think he's good enough, and would say the same for the rest of the outsiders.
Dan : Tend to agree with most of that. Whilst the ambition of Middleham Park Racing is commendable, Penitent really isn't the type I want to side with in this kind of climate, Flotilla has lost her way somewhat and is still without a win at the Carnival, and Capital Attraction is being over bet based on his finishing position on Super Saturday. If there were to be one outsider to consider, it'd be Elleval who loves this place. A close second on World Cup night last year, and already a winner ahead of Cat O' Mountain this term, this may be an afterthought after failing to gain an entry in the World Cup itself but 25/1 is surely too big?
Calum : It's a better price than most, so too Haatheq who was second last year, ran second to Variety Club earlier in the season, and you can always excuse one bad run.
Dan : Selection time, and whilst it may not be a Group 1, will Paul Hanagan finally get his first Carnival victory on the board for 2014 with a thoroughbred, with Soft Falling Rain?
Calum : I hope and think 'yes'. Must be Shuruq for you?
Dan : Shuruq for me - Unbeatable on this surface over a mile, but I wouldn't write Surfer off. Would you expect any less of me?!
Dan : Onto the UAE Derby, and this will truly put that statistic on Charlie Appleby to the test, won't it?
Calum : It will, 0-for-26 with second or third time starters at the Carnival, even without taking that into account Long John is the one favourite of the card that I'm really against. He looks all about speed, and even though he seemed to love the tapeta surface when winning the UAE 2,000 Guineas, the trip is still a big worry. His Cox Plate run over half a furlong further really doesn't bode well in that respect.
Dan : I feel a tad foolish for taking him on earlier in the Carnival, but I agree in that there were considerable negatives to be had against Long John. His Cox Plate run was appalling, and whilst the winner of that came out and won an Australian Guineas, he was a lucky winner in the former. The Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf boasts an exceptional 1-2-3 from last seasonm with Bobby's Kitten already coming out and winning comfortably, and this looks good for Giovanni Boldini. It's also worth considering the brilliant record Aidan O'Brien has in this race.
Calum : Yes, Giovanni Boldini has to go very well here. It's interesting to note that O'Brien has won the last two of these with horses that were coming off of Breeders' Cup defeats. Daddy Long Legs and Lines of Battle both were well beaten, yet this one was arguably an unlucky second. It's incredible that only three trainers have ever won this race, could that still be the case again this year?
Dan : Surely Aidan wins this again, but could Michaelmas, Sir John Hawkins or Oklahoma City come into play? One stepping up markedly on his three starts, whereas the other two have shown their better hands to be below par?
Calum : None of them look up to this standard, or even the standard set by their stablemate Giovanni Boldini. I liked Sir John Hawkins when I first saw him, but the headgear was reached for last time and he's had his opportunities already.
Dan : Is it fair to say that the price of Emirates Flyer is rather on the large side? 20/1 for a horse that didn't have the best of pace scenarios to run into on Super Saturday is big compared to the 11/2 on Asmar - the winner - isn't it?
Calum : Not for me. He doesn't look like he relishes this trip and Asmar has a much more progressive profile at this trip. Then again, if Emirates Flyer at 20/1 is big compared to Asmar, and that rival beat Emirates Flyer by further than Long John, albeit over a different trip, that surely means 5/2 on Long John is a very poor price?
Dan : With you there. You won't catch me in a rush to get the 5/2. He's one to take on...again! A couple of British outsiders to mention - Toast of New York is coming in off the back of two runaway polytrack victories, his sire is making waves in France and his dam sire has produced consistent polytrack performers - most notably at Woodbine in Canada, he has a place chance here surely?
Calum : An absolutely fascinating runner. We don't know how good he is, but he was really impressive in a modest novice race last time and this was mentioned as a target at the time. He's worth his chance to prove if he's good enough but it's another matter actually showing that he is.
Dan : On a similar note, Sir Jack Layden gave a bold showing in the Royal Lodge Stakes behind Berkshire, his pedigree suggests he will relish the step up, but can you give him a chance here? He was 40/1 that day behind Berkshire.
Calum : I can't take that Royal Lodge Stakes form at face value. It was slowly run on very fast ground. The trip, as you say, will suit on pedigree but I prefer others.
Dan : Time to nail you down to a selection, but I think we're both swerving the favourite here
Dan : Same for me, but I do feel Toast of New York will give a bold showing and place at the very least.
***Part 2 of Dan and Calum's preview of the Dubai World Cup card comes tomorrow, only on Horse Racing Nation***