Photo: Dubai Racing Club/Andrew Watkins
Meydan Race 7 - G1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3
The horse to play against:
Morning line favorite is something of a synthetic specialist, having won 5 of 8 starts on synthetics but never beyond one mile. Made a smart reappearance off the layoff last out when second to Prince Bishop in the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge R2. Still feel 10 furlongs may be beyond his capabilities for the win spot, though no doubt a threat to stay on for minor placings.
The horse to key around:
Is certainly the "now" horse, having won his last two efforts at the Meydan carnival, both at 10 furlongs. One was on turf (just seven days ago), one was on synthetic, both were impressive. Those wins were in handicaps, though, and this is a significant rise in class to the Group 1 level, but the de Kock barn has been lights-out at the meet, particularly when picking up the riding services of Soumillon. Further improvement needed but well within his current scope. He is worthy of a play at his 6/1 morning line or higher.
Other horses to use:
Returns off 30 days' rest after winning the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge R2 last out. Was third in this same race last year, to Hunter's Light, and is best at this distance on synthetics.
Classy sort took on the best over four continents last year and on his best day is better than this group. Still, synthetics may not be his game, though the 10-furlong distance suits. Fourth in the Group 1 Dubai World Cup last year in lone synthetic effort, and followed that up with a Group 1 victory in Australia and minor awards in Hong Kong and America at that Group 1 level on turf.
Deserves another shot despite finishing 10th last time as the favorite in a handicap. Had won all 5 synthetic outings before that, though never against this type. Still, he's open to improvement and will likely be a higher price than his morning line off the last effort.
Has progressed well at the meet, having run into turf buzz saws in Gabrial and the undefeated Vercingetorix before winning his last in a handicap on synthetic. Is in top form at the moment and has always been better-suited to the synthetics. Last win may be the top of his ability, though a repeat here would surely threaten for a share.