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Dubai Duty Free: This is wide, wide open
by Geir Stabell ( / Globeform (
Last update: 2013-03-29 06:49:38 (First published: 2013-03-23 15:47:01 )


The Dubai Duty Free Stakes (G1) is always an excellent race, and this year's renewal is incredibly open. Based on Globeform ratings, this turf event can be won by just about any of the 14 runners, without it being a shock result.


Meydan 30 March 2013 / 1800 metres / 9 furlongs Turf

Runners presented with best Globeform rating, trainer, jockey

118 - GIOFRA / Alain de Royer-Dupre / Maxime Guyon
118 - IGUGU / Mike de Kock / Anthony Delpeche
116 - I'M A DREAMER / David Simcock / Hayley Turner
119 - LITTLE MIKE / Dale Romans / Gary Stevens
114p - SAJJHAA / Saeed bin Suroor / Silvestre de Sousa
118p - TRADE STORM / David Simcock / Jamie Spencer
118p - FRENCH FIFTEEN / Nicolas Clement / Olivier Peslier
117 - OCEAN PARK / Gary Hennessy / Johnny Murtagh
117 - THE APACHE / Mike de Kock / Christophe Soumillon
117 - WIGMORE HALL / Michael Bell / Ryan Moore
116 - MUSHREQ / Mike de Kock / Paul Hanagan
115 - CITY STYLE / Saeed bin Suroor / Mickael Barzalona
114 - AESOP'S FABLES / Saeed bin Suroor / Kieren Fallon
113 - FULBRIGHT / Mahmood Al Zarooni / Ahmad Ajtebi

Igugu: GF 118 in 2012, well below in two runs this year

Giofra, Igugu, I'm A Dreamer, Sajjhaa: 2kg (4.4lbs) sex weight allowance.

Add 4.4lbs to their ratings for direct comparison with the males


is joint top rated with Igugu in this Duty Free, a race than can easily be dominated by the girls. I'm A Dreamer and Sajjhaa, in search of her fourth win on the bounce, also hold strong claims. Giofra will be making her first start of the year, running for Alain de Royer-Dupre's strong team.

She was a Group One winner over a straight mile at Newmarket in England last summer, when beating Elusive Kate and Siyouma in the Falmouth Stakes at the July meeting. Looking at that pleiec of form, and also her last run of 2012, Giofra is good value in the betting here. This French trained mare proved herself on the international stage once more when finishing best of all (from a terrible draw) to take second behind California Memory in the Hong Kong Cup (G1) over 2000 metres at Sha Tin last December.

Giofra will be ideally suited by the Duty Free distance, and also note that she won first time out in 2012. So there are positives here, though one negative needs mentioning; that her trainer revealed on Wednesday that she had missed her last piece of work before travelling out to Dubai. It may not be much of an issue but it would have felt better if she had gone through every step of her preparations as planned. Either way, Giofra is too big in the betting and at around 8-1 it is hard to resist a punt on her number.

IGUGU has been a disappointment here at Meydan but, since Mike de Kock has decided to run her, we must give her some consideration. Her best form is good enough to win this Duty Free. An Australian bred daughter of Galileo, Igugu justified odds-on favouritism when beating 14 rivals in the J & B Met over 2000 metres at Kenilworth in January 2012. Jockey Anthony Delpech partnered her to a half-length win over Bravura, with Givemethegreenlight third and Run For it a close fourth.

Igugu has become a darling if South African racing, not only through her win in the J & Met. The famous mare, whose name means «famous» in Zulu, became the first filly to collect the South African Triple Tiara, winning the Gauteng Fillies Guineas (outclassing Hollywoodboulevard by 4 lengths), South African Fillies Classic (by 10 ½ lengths from Las Ramblas) and the South African Oaks, where she came home 6 lengths in front of Princess Of Light. The runner-up challenged stubbornly as the pair drew away from the field with 400 metres to go, but Igugu quickened sharply passing the 300-metres mark, and shot clear of her rival for another impressive win. That she was more than a top lady amongst ladies was proven already when Igugu ran in the valuable Durban July (G1) at Greyville in July 2011. Tackling 2200 metres and facing the boys, she once more proved the best, winning by a length from Pierre Jourdan, with English Garden third and The Apache back in fourth.

Igugu's first two efforts at Meydan, in the Balanchine Stakes (G2) February 21 and the Jebel Hatta (G1) three weeks ago, were both well below her true form. If she runs like that again; no chance. If he is back to her best; good chance.

I'M A DREAMER, nicely drawn in stall two, is a contender most observers seem to have overlooked. And the bookmakers too, as she can be backed at around 20-1. That is a huge price for this mare, who has solid form, ships really well, likes the ground and is well in on ratings. I'm A Dreamer's finest hour came when she captured the Beverly D Stakes (G1) at Arlington Park last August, beating Marketing Mix by a head with Joviality back in third place. I'm A Dreamer also ran a good race in the Flower Bowl Invitational (G1) at Belmont Park, where the soft ground was against her – she stayed on well to take fourth, just a length behind the winner, Nahrain. Zagora, who finished second, went on to win the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) at Santa Anita – as Marketing Mix was second and I'm A Dreamer sixth. David Simcock's star had probably lost her form by then. She was a 4 1/2-length winner of a Group 3 first time out in 2011 and ran well also on her seasonal bow last year, to be third behind G1 winner Izzy Top in the Middleton Stakes (G2) at York. I'm A Dreamer goes well fresh. She is definitely an each-way bet in this race.

LITTLE MIKE is seriously dangerous if allowed to stroll along on an uncontested lead. Like when he won the prestigious Arlington Million (G1) over 1 ¼ miles in Chicago last August. Ramon Dominguez sent Little Mike straight to the front. Where he managed to slow things down, and have plenty in reserve when entering the home stretch. Little Mike ran on well to the wire, and took the race by 1 ½ lengths from the English trained challenger Afsare, who stayed on well but had far too much to do. Little Mike had run a similar race to take the Turf Classic (G1) over 9 furlongs (1800 metres) at Churchill Downs in May, winning easily from Slim Shadey. At the Breeders' Cup Little Mike went for the 12-furlong Turf. Dominguez was again on board and the combination was expected to sprint straight to the lead as the gates opened. Dominguez, one of the very best jockeys in the US, had a different plan. This time he did not gun for an early lead. Instead, he settled Little Mike in third spot early, and the gelding was racing nicely relaxed in that position. He made his move with just under a quarter of a mile to go, and kicked into a clear lead. Favourite Point of Entry finished faster, but he came from too far back and Little Mike held on to win by half a length.

The versatility he showed at Santa Anita, when proving that he was able to rate just off the pace, made Little Mike an even better horse, and, well drawn in stall four, he is certainly good enough to make an impact win the Duty Free, though his prep run for this event was not all that inspiring.

SAJJHAA ran to Globeform 114p when winning the Jebel Hatta (G1) over this course and distance on Super Saturday. That is not a rating good enough to win the Duty Free, but the way she did it – and not least the way she has progressed at this Carnival – one must say she has a chance. Sajjhaa is a big, strong filly who has taken time to develop, not least mentally, and she has really turned a corner this year. She has won the last three starts and her most recent run was her best to date. An explosive turn of foot made her a decisive winner over THE APACHE in the Jebel Hatta. The margin was just three parts of a length but Sajjhaa was clearly the best – and she can improve again. With City Style, Master Of Hounds, Side Glance and Igugu filling the next places, her Jebel Hatta form is solid enough. With her sex allowance, she may beat most of the boys again. Another win would be far from 'a shocker'.

TRADE STORM has drawn the wide post but it may actually be to his advantage, as he will be held up at the back anyway and can tuck in without any disturbance in the early part of the contest. He does not sit at the top on ratings but, in a wide open race, he is our selection. He is a progressive older horse who looked potentially top class on his most recent start. Like I'm A Dreamer trained by David Simcock, he was a nice sort as a two-year-old in England, winning a Newbury maiden and running fourth in a Listed event in his first season, but he did not seem to have Group One potential. He sure does now, two and a half years later, as he is fresh from an impressive win over Musir on the Meydan lawn. His performance in the Zabeel Mile (G2) four weeks prior to World Cup night took him to an altogether new level. A big, strong five-year-old, Trade Storm burst into the Duty Free picture with a powerful display that day.

Trade Storm came from dead last, attacked between horses, then swooped past Musir (who had looked all over the winner 200 metres out) to win comfortably by 1 ½ lengths. Trade Storm has been a late developing runner and he is clearly thriving under the Dubai sun. In jockey Jamie Spencer, one of the most patient riders in the game, he has a perfect partner.

FRENCH FIFTEEN was beaten in his prep run at home in Francebut that is not necessarily a terrible thing. Many big race winners have come off defeats on their final start before the race that matters most. If French Fifteen, owned by HH Sheikh Abdullah Bin Khalifa Al Thani of Qatar and trained by Nicolas Clement in Chantilly, wins the Dubai Duty Free (G1) he will be another one. He made his seasonal debut in early March, was not even favourite as he went for a minor event at Chantilly, and got turned over. That he did not start favourite was perhaps not so strange, as Group One winner Meandre was also in the mix, but French Fifteen was the one with solid form over actual the trip, 1600 metres. Meandre is a classy performer, and may also be in action at Meydan on World Cup night, but he is best over 2400 metres. Anyway, both these horses needed the outing to move one step closer to a good performance in Dubai. French Fifteen finished second, 2 ½ lengths behind the winner, Silas Marner, while Meandre came home in fourth place. They were both conceding weight to Silas Marner, who had gained a Listed win at Deauville last December.

French Fifteen did not perform up to his previous best over the Polytrack surface at Chantilly. If he had, he probably would have won the contest. His form last year made him one of the best three-year-olds in Europe and he came to hand early in the season too, winning the Prix Djebel (LR) at Maisons-Laffitte in April and running a game second to Camelot in the 2,000 Guineas (G1) at Newmarket in May. Both these races are run over straight tracks, the Djebel over 1400 metres (7 furlongs) and the Guineas over a mile. Whether he is at his best over straight courses is too soon to say, as French Fifteen had his chances ruined by a troubled run in the Prix du Jockey-Club (G1) at Chantilly, and later sustained an injury. He won over 1600 metres at Craon as a juvenile, racing around a left-hand turn. French Fifteen stayed on resolutely at the finish when second to Camelot, who went on to win the Epsom Derby (G1) on his next start, at Newmarket and he stays further than a mile. He was one of the favourites for the Prix du Jockey-Club (French Derby) a month later, but the 2100 metres classic became somewhat of a barging match, with several horses getting in each others way. French Fifteen was among the sufferers and his jockey Christophe Soumillon put his hands down let the colt ease down in the closing stages. He was a beaten horse in any case, but could have finished closer than tenth, 4 ¾ lengths behind the winner Saonois.

A next to last effort in the Prix Jean Prat (G1), over 1600 metres at Chantilly in July, was all he did on the racecourse after the French Derby. He was held up at the back early on, then took stumble when asked to quicken 300 metres out, and came back with a leg injury. His three-year-old season thus ended on July 1, and his first start in 2013 came after a seven-month break. The three-year-olds were not a great bunch in Europe last year and French Fifteen is one of many who will have to step up a bit if they are to be competitive against older horses this term. On the plus side, French Fifteen is open to improvement, and he also has the physique of a horse that will progress with age. A big, strong sort, he will be effective over further than a mile this season.

OCEAN PARK is a high class performer in New Zealand and Australia, where he captured the prestigious Cox Plate (G1) last year. Coming with a strong run from off the pace, Ocean Park got up close home and won the 2000 metres event at Moonee Valley by a neck from All Too Hard. Ocean Park turned out again just a week later, to contest the Mackinnon Stakes (G1) at Flemington. The trip was once more 2000 metres and once more Ocean Park was held up for a late run. He finished gamely but could only manage third, behing Alcopop and the ex-English runner Glass Harmonium. Alcopop had been second to Ocean Park in the Caulfield Stakes (G1) earlier in the season and was also a creditable third to California Memory in the Hong Kong Cup (G1) at Sha Tin in December (Giofra beat him by 1 ¾ lengths for second) Ocean Park is one of the best horses in Australia but whether his form justifies him being favourite for the Duty Free is debatable. He comes here off an easy win at home, however, having beaten multiple New Zealand G1 winner Veyron by 3 ½ lengths in the New Zealand Stakes (G1) at Ellerslie on March 9. Ocean Park has also won the Underwood Stakes (G1) over 1800 metres, and the Duty Free trip should not be a problem, at least not if the early pace is honest. The faster they go early on, the better it is for this contender.





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