Photo: Dubai Racing Club/Andrew Watkins
Part two of my look at the Dubai World Cup card, and I'm joined by Calum Madell once again to try and unearth the key horses you need to be including on your wagers next weekend...
Dan : Back once again and we're looking at all things sprinting. I'm joined by Calum Madell (@calummadell) and Calum, what a disappointment the Golden Shaheen is this year. It's harsh to call it a top grade handicap, what with the last two winners entered, but it really isn't strong is it?
Calum : It has been better, but that may be because the past two winners are arguably not in the same form as they were when they won it. We can certainly say that for Krypton Factor. Rich Tapestry won well on Super Saturday, but he didn't look a world beater going into it, and I suspect he still wouldn't have to be one to win this either.
Dan : I'm against Rich Tapestry here. I feel he was as fit as could be going into the race, and he hasn't set the world alight in Hong Kong thus far. Admittedly this is a different surface altogether, but surely Sterling City has his measure and he'll get the expert guiding hands of Joao Moreira.
Calum : My thoughts exactly on Sterling City. He's been ahead of him on both occasions that they've met of late and, though there was little between them in the Hong Kong Sprint, Sterling City is just a better horse. My main point on this is the draw. A wide draw instantly makes your chances much harder.
Dan : Let's look at the consistent, the quirky and the baffling in this race - Russian Soul, Complicate and United Color. Which takes your fancy the most?
Calum : They've all got form which ties into each other really. Russian Soul deserved his win in the Al Shindagha and he's better than his Super Saturday run sugests. That race totally fell apart and particularly inconvenienced horses such as Balmont Mast and Jamesie. The former was placed last year and he will be picking up the pieces if they go overly quick again. If he got a good draw then I'd be very keen on Jamesie, who has improved beyond all recognition at the Carnival. United Color and Complicate have had their chance to prove that they can win something of this calibre.
Dan : I had really expected United Color to push on this year, but it hasn't come together thus far. Pat Cummings made a good point that he was running on last time out, but finished behind other horses that also ran on from behind him. I think he'll struggle to be a factor here.
Calum : Sadly not. I really expected him to push on but Pat's look at it is very fair. I don't even think he's up to matching his finishing position from last year.
Dan : Do the past winners have a chance here? Reynaldothewizard put up a strong performance on Super Saturday, but he's struggled to hold his form this year, hasn't he?
Calum : Reynaldothewizard ran much better on Super Saturday, but again a reproduction of that won't be enough to win. I'd be interested to know how you think this race will be run, but to me there seems to be no pace on and that would suit Reynaldothewizard more than most.
Dan : There really isn't a lot of pace in here, is there? The absence of something like Gale Force Ten or the like is a concern. Nawwaar has led before, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him do so again, whilst Complicate has tried to go forward in the past only to be pulled back off the lead. I think the draw will play a huge part here and if Nawwaar is drawn near the inside he'll really give the inside stalls a perfect tow into the race.
Calum : That makes the draw as imperative as usual, so in terms of betting I would wait until the draw is made to have a decent bet. I'd be interested to see if Complicate had headgear on.
Dan : Complicate is a baffling individual - he really should have won first time up, then definitely should have won second time up, but last time he was at his limits. It's all about how he turns up feeling on the day but I think he's vulnerable. Where are your pre-draw pounds going?
Calum : Jamesie for me. I think he's going the right way and fast. He didn't have anything go right for him in the trial and if he got a good start, and was more prominent, I think he'd have a massive chance.
Dan : I'm with Jamesie too. It's a weak race, but he has - like you said - progressed beyond all recognition this year. That doesn't get me back the money I lost on him at Dundalk this year, but he's a big shout to return back to Ireland a Group I winner.
Calum : One word : No. Last year he needed his first run back before winning the Meydan Sprint in incredible fashion. He wasn't as good in the Al Quoz Sprint but he still won. I suspect after winning on Super Saturday this year he will be absolutely primed for World Cup night, which means I expect him to win and win well.
Dan : He's a tough little guy, and this battle with Sole Power was all but concluded on Super Saturday with his dominant performance (for now..) but we do need to remember that last year Shea Shea was entering Dubai off of a nine month lay off, before a finishing seventh in his first Meydan run, this year he hasn't had the quarantine hold ups to contend with and comes in off a much busier campaign, even with the lay off. It's surely of some concern that Ahtoug got so close last time?
Calum : Not for me. I thought he had plenty more in hand over Ahtoug who, let's not forget, is fourth favourite for this anyway and is a very progressive sprinter. I think he's got a lot more to come from that and the time was very good - he now holds the three fasters times over course and distance.
Dan : I like him, but is it fair to assume that he has won most of the races run over the course and distance? Amber Sky is interesting, but I do have some concerns over whether he is truly Group I class. Like Rich Tapestry, when a test comes he does struggle, but he is an out and out speedball that Shea Shea may struggle to pick up under the lights.
Calum : The speed that he showed out of the gate last time was remarkable. If he can show that was no flash in the pan then he's the obvious danger, but Shea Shea himself has a very high cruising speed but also has the ability to quicken, and I think he will have him covered unless Amber Sky can put up something very special.
Dan : Let's take a look at the outsiders in this field before returning back to Sole Power, Dux Scholar is looking pretty comfortable back over the sprint distances isn't he?
Calum : It's easy to forget he won a handicap last year over five furlongs here and he ran a super race in the Meydan Sprint. I really do think Shea Shea will do more than confirm that form though.
Dan : A word on Medicean Man, the last horse to beat Shea Shea at Meydan. He has an outstanding chance of placing doesn't he?
Calum : Big time. He seems to be as good as ever. He was a touch unlucky on his return, but then he beat Ahtoug while giving him two pounds and took full advantage of a mark of 101 on the tapeta when last seen. There is plenty of pace for him to chase and there's no reason why he is 16/1 when others, who he has beat this season, are similar or shorter.
Dan : What about Sole Power, does he have a chance here or is it game over in the battle with Shea Shea?
Calum : I don't see why he would overturn Meydan form with Shea Shea. It's 5-1 between the pair now. He gets his five furlong distance on fast ground, so he will run well, but I feel a place would be a great run for him in this spot.
Dan : I think this may be your best chance to give us a straight trifecta, so let's hear your 1-2-3.
Calum : Shea Shea, Medicean Man and Sole Power for me. I'd be surprised if you've left out Amber Sky though.
Dan : For all that I hope Amber Sky can do it, I'm under no illusions that this will be a tough ask. I think Shea Shea can do it, with Amber Sky a creditable second, but the battle for third is interesting. Medicean Man has to be there or thereabouts, as does Joy and Fun who at the grand old age of eleven would be looking for his third successive placing in this race.