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by Geir Stabell ( / Globeform (
Last update: 2013-03-07 06:50:29 (First published: 2013-03-07 06:33:49 )

Dubai March 9:

Super Saturday is here, as we are just three weeks away from the fantastic Dubai World Cup Day at Meydan racecourse.

With several big race contenders in action in key prep races for championship events on the World Cup card, this is a day not to miss.

Geir Stabell takes a closer look at the races, and recommends three interesting value bets.


The opening race on Super Saturday, the Al Bastakiya (LR) has come up a bit light, in opinion, and it looks quite an open race with Deauville Prince, Tarbawi and Elleval meeting again after filling second to fourth, in that order, behind Now Spun in the Meydan Classic on turf. How they fare will give us an indication of Now Spun's chances in the UAE Derby, while Snowboarder and Zahee will tell us more about Soft Falling Rain's level of form. They filled second and third behind Hamdan Al Maktoum's colt in the 2,000 Guineas over the Tapeta track.

Perhaps that is the strongest form, but perhaps the classic contenders seen thus far at Meydan are an ordinary bunch. In which case it could pay to take a shot at a new face turning up; namely the Saeed bin Suroor trained SECRET NUMBER. This son of Raven's Pass overcame a sluggish start to win over a mile on his only start in England last year, when he justified favouritism to beat Pether's Moon by a neck. It was not a strong field but Secret Number looked above average, as he is certainly bred to be, being a half-brother to the two classy milers Dubai Destination and Librettist. His dam, Mysterial, is half-sister to Agnes World, a Japanese sprint champion best remembered for his win in the July Cup in England.

Interestingly, Secret Number was among Godolphin's entries for the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket when it closed on Monday. He has also been entered for the Epsom Derby.

Super Saturday is a day mainly to watch and learn, as we are gearing up for World Cup night three weeks down the road, and the card is truly excellent. At the same time, the contests are hard to predict. Some of the heavyweights will be making their first start of the year, including two Dale Romans trainees, Little Mike and Dullahan, while others can easily jump up in a big way following below par efforts first time out ; Igugu, Saint Baudolino and Krypton Factor are three who fit well into that basket.

Sixteen turf sprinters are set to clash in the Meydan Sprint (LR), a contest over 1000 metres on the lawn. Secret Quartz, representing England, may be the most talented in this race but it is not an event I would like to get financially involved in. Neither is the following race, the Mahaab Al Shimaal (G3) over 1200 metres on the main track. Unless, of course, one can get 2-1 or better about last year's Golden Shaheen winner Krypton Factor. Something I very much doubt. He ran well enough here on his comeback, when third i Mental, to suggest he has retained his ability, and he stands out as the class horse in the Mahab Al Shimaal, a race Krypton Factor won last year, before beating Rocket Man on World Cup night.


The one horse
I am really keen on this weekend is the ex-Irish performer Await The Dawn in the Dubai City of Gold (G2) over 2400 metres on the turf course. He was deeply impressive when slamming So Beautiful and five others under top weight in a good handicap over 2000 metres here two weeks ago, and produced Globeform 124 in the process. His was the best performance seen all winter at Meydan. If consulted, I would recommend they let him take his chance in the World Cup. Though a run on turf this weekend may indicate that he is headed for the Sheema Classic, or perhaps the Duty Free, on March 30. We'll see, but first we will also see if my assessment of his seasonal debut is correct. If it is, he'll win again on Saturday. He is my main bet this weekend.

The Burj Nahaar (G2) brings out last year's Godolphin Mile winner African Story, and he goes up against the US trained Dullahan, who beat none other than Game On Dude when landing the Pacific Classic (G1) in California last year. That form is obvioulsy better than African Story's but the latter is proven on Tapeta and much better suited by 1600 metres. Dullahan needs further, and, unless the pace is seriously strong, he may come up short here.


The Al Maktoum Challenge Round III (G1)
has drawn a fascinating field of 13 runners, with all sorts of angles and backgrounds meeting up in an attempt at qualifying for a crack at the Dubai World Cup (G1). Recent form often counts for a lot in these races, and I wonder if KASSIANO is one we should not underestimate. He has not beaten Group horses so far, but the way he has been winning suggests he is well up to doing just that. He probably holds a fitness edge over many of these and 10-1 is too big a price for this Godolphin trainee. He will be ridden by William Buick.

Gut feeling also says to take a long hard look at another Godolphin horse in the Al Maktoum Challenge; the ex-French four-year-old Saint Baudulino, who seemed to need the run when fourth to the race fit Hunter's Light in the second round of these series. The latter is in the mix again this time and will probably be favourite in the international pool. Then we have Monterosso, last year's World Cup winner, and the classy US turf runner Little Mike. They can all win without making anyone call it a 'shock result'. Take your pick! I'll have a small each-way bet (across the board) on Kassiano.

The Jebel Hatta (G1) offers a 'second chance' for South Africa's darling Igugu. She tries to improve on her dull fourth to Sajjhaa, who is in opposition again here, in the Balanchine 16 days ago. This is far from a rematch, however, as these two smart ladies are set to rub shoulders with solid males like Master Of Hounds, City Style, Sharestan, Side Glance and The Apache. Winning this race will not be easy and I am not going to even think about having a bet on this tricky finale.

I'd much rather wait for Verrazano in the Tampa Bay Derby a few hours later!



BEST LONGSHOT: KASSIANO / Al Maktoum Challenge

Players betting with the bookmakers should also combine these three horses in three win doubles and an each-way treble.

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