Globeform's

DUBAI WORLD CUP SPECIAL 2015

HORSE BIOS, FEATURES, PREVIEWS, GLOBEFORM RATINGS, SELECTIONS

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GLOBEFORM RATINGS

DUBAI WORLD CUP (G1)

Meydan, March 28 – 2000 metres dirt


Globeform Ratings are expressed in

pounds (2lb = 1 length over this distance)


124 CALIFORNIA CHROME

124 EPIPHANEIA

124? AFRICAN STORY *

119 LEA

117 HOKKO TARUMAE

117 SIDE GLANCE

116 PRINCE BISHOP

114 CANDY BOY


* African Story GF 124? Dubai World Cup 2014 / GF 116 in 2015

GLOBEFORM ANALYSIS

This looks a $6 million gift for Chrome


CALIFORNIA CHROME looks the banker on the day, as he heads what is a badly depleted World Cup filed. The defections of Bayern, Toast Of New York, Constitution and Hoppertunity mean that the Kentucky Derby winner is a a clear top rated horse here. That may seem a strange statement, since Japan's challenger Epiphaneia and last year's winner African Story going into this battle with the same Globeform rating, but they are both rather dubious over this dirt course. Particularly African Story, who showed abnormal improvement to win over the Tapeta surface last year and has been well below that level in two starts this season. California Chrome impressed in his prep race against Shared Belief at Santa Anita. Shared Belief is the best horse in North America at the minute, and he followed up with a facile win in the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) next time out. California Chrome was not fully wound up, but still gave Shared Belief a race, as they drew way clear of the rest of the field. Art Sherman's dual classic winner should be well suited by the new dirt track at Meydan, he has had an ideal preparation, and he will be very hard to beat.

EPIPHANEIA ran the race of his life to win the Japan Cup (G1) from Just A Way, winning the 12-furlong event quite easily over rain softened ground. His 4-length margin may have flattered him though, as his runner-up does not truly stay that distance, and also as not many of Ephiphaneia's rivals liked the going. The 2014 Japan Cup result says 'firm ground' but there had been rain and jockey Christophe Soumillon said straight after the race that the soft ground had helped his horse. Without having been there it is hard to know what to make of these scenarios, but it is well known that Epiphaneia does not mind a bit of give underfoot. Which is interesting, since history shows that turf horses acting well on soft / heavy seem best equipped to a switch to dirt. Still, it is hard to imagine this contender matching strides with 'Chrome'. The surface switch is one thing, the cut back in distance another (on what has been a speed favouring track this winter), and Epiphaneia must repeat his Japan Cup form to win. He has not been up to GF 124 in any of his ten other races, and was beaten by four rivals when encountering wintry hard ground in the Arima Kinen (G1) in December. He has more class than most of the field though, and holds a good chance of getting into the top three.


AFRICAN STORY's form in the 2014 Dubai World Cup (G1) was either an absolute 'fluke' or caused by his liking for the Tapeta surface, possibly a bit of both. He has not been up to GF 120 in any of his other races, and in his case we are talking about 19 runs. He performed to Globeform 116 when winning a weak Group 1 over this course and distance on Super Saturday, a race that more or less fell into his lap when the early pace collapsed in the home straight. That level of form won't get him anywhere close to California Chrome, and African Story had a very, very hard race three weeks ago. He could well bounce and finish right out of the frame here.


LEA is more of a danger. If California Chrome is not at his peak, then Lea is the one most likely to take advantage. He set a new course record over 9 furlongs at Gulfstream Park when winning the 2014 Donn Handicap (G1), and ran a game race in defeat when second to Constitution in this year's edition of the Donn – an event that has often been a good prep for the World Cup. Lea was at first thought to give Dubai a miss, but that was when all the big guns were still in the picture. Bill Mott changed his mind when seeing how the World Cup field was falling apart, and it's a decision likely to be handsomely rewarded. This step up to 10 furlongs will be to his liking.


If the two US challengers run to form they will finish one-two.


HOKKO TARUMAE seems to be the best dirt performer in Japan and he should be included in all those Trifectas and Superfectas. This six-year-old performer is coming off three straight wins and he is an uncomplicated, game and genuine performer. Likely to sit handy throughout, he should enjoy the way this race is setting up.


African Story was sent to the lead on Super Saturday and, as holding him up had proved a right disaster on his reappearance, such tactics will probably be employed once more. Not that it would be ideal, as he thus becomes a sitting duck. California Chrome can make the running himself if he needs to but ideally he will sit just a few lengths off the pace, possibly in company with Hokko Tarumae, Lea won't be far behind either and Epiphaneia is also a prominent runner.

GLOBEFORM SELECTIONS

A: CALIFORNIA CHROME

B: LEA

C: EPIPHANEIA

GLOBEFORM RATINGS

DUBAI SHEEMA CLASSIC (G1)

Meydan, March 28 – 2410 metres turf


Globeform Ratings are expressed in

pounds (1.5lb = 1 length over this distance)


120 HARP STAR (f)

123 DESIGNS ON ROME

123 FLINTSHIRE

120 MAIN SEQUENCE

115p DOLNIYA (f)

115 JUST THE JUDGE (m)

117 SHEIKHZAYEDROAD

117 ONE AND ONLY

116 TRUE STORY

Main Sequence beating Flintshire at the Breeders' Cup

Harp Star, Just The Judge and Dolnia get a 2kg (4.4lb) sex weight allowance.

Please add 4.4 to their Globeform ratings for direct comparison with the males.

GLOBEFORM ANALYSIS

Recent form may be deciding factor


HARP STAR tops the ranking based on her best form in Japan last year, an off-the-pace win over Gold Ship in the Sapporo Kinen (G2) over 10 furlongs in August. She had previously won the Japanese 1,000 Guineas (G1) over a mile and finished second in the Japanese Oaks (G1) over a mile and a half. Her finish in the Sappora Kinen was visually impressive, as it had been also in the Oaks, and she ran another game race from off the pace to take sixth in the 'Arc' at Longchamp in October. Her rider gave her far too much to do that day, and she stayed on at the finish – passing the post 4 ½ lengths behind the winner, Treve. Back home, she produced a similar performance in the Japan Cup (G1) just under two months later, finishing fifth, 5 ½ lengths behind Dubai World Cup contender Epiphaneia. Her seasonal debut, in the 11-furlong Kyoto Kinen (G2) last month, was disappointing. Harp Star may have needed the run but checking in fifth, beaten by Lovely Day, Suzuka Devious, Kizuna and Red Davis, who all gave her weight, was not very inspiring.


What we have here is a filly sitting high on the rankings as a result of one GF 120 run, with three performances well below that level since. Its hard to fancy such a contender, even in a race where fillies have done well in the past. She needs a strong pace to be fully effective, and that may not be what she gets here.


DESIGNS ON ROME is much more solid. This Hong Kong champion must have an excellent chance. He is coming off three straight wins at Sha Tin, he went through his prep earlier this month without breaking too much sweat, and he is capable of Globeform 123 – which seems likely to be enough to win this edition of the Sheema. Designs On Rome maintained his great momentum by winning the Hong Kong Gold Cup (G1) three weeks prior to World Cup night. As always finishing fast from well out the back, he beat the 2013 UAE Derby (G2) winner Helene Super Star (ex-Lines Of Battle) easily by 1 ¼ lengths to book his ticket to Meydan. He won the Centenary Vase Handicap (G3) under top weight three weeks earlier, and the Hong Kong Gold Cup was Designs On Rome's eighth win from 17 career outings. One of the top performers at Sha Tin, the John Moore trained Designs On Rome, a five-year-old gelding with three Group One wins to his name, looks a strong contender. His ideal distance is 2000 metres (10 furlongs) , but Designs On Rome normally finishes his races off very strongly and stretching out to 2400 metres could actually be to his advantage. He came from a long way off the pace also when winning the Hong Kong Cup (G1) at Sha Tin in December, a race he took by a head from Military Attack. The two Hong Kong stars finished a length in front of the third placed Australian raider Criterion, who was half a length better than Cirrus des Aigles, a Frenchman racing fans know well in Dubai. 'Cirrus' was not at his absolute best at Sha Tin, but the form still looks quite solid.


While Designs On Rome had won the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1) last April (again with Military Attack a close second), Military Attack was coming off an excellent run to be second in the Jockey Club Cup (G2) over the same course and distance, and Criterion was one of the better performers in Australia last year, with a narrow defeat against Fawkner in the prestigious Caulfield Cup (G1) as his high point.

Designs On Rome, who was second to Dawn Approach in an Irish Group One as a juvenile, has never been better than in recent months, and he holds a leading chance.


FLINTSHIRE ran his best race when runner-up to Treve in the 'Arc' at Longchamp last October, and went on to finish second behind Main Sequence at the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita and win the Hong Kong Vase (G1) at Sha Tin. He is a well travelled, consistent performer. He was a Group One winner in France as a three-year-old, but he has often been a bit of a 'nearly horse'. Runner-up efforts in three championship events, in three different countries last year confirms what a good horse he is, and Flintshire certainly deserved it when landing the Hong Kong Vase (G1) in December. He had run second to Cirrus des Aigles in the Coronation Cup (G1) at Epsom Downs in England in June, played the same role behind Treve in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1) at in France in October, and again behind Main Sequence in the Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) in California in November. It was a demanding campaign, but trainer Andre Fabre, arguably one of the world's finest horsemen, gave Flintshire a bit of a break after the Arc and brought him fresh to Sha Tin, where he won decisively by half a length from the locally trained Willie Cazals. All these races were run over 2400 metres, the distance of the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1), where Flintshire is expected to be one of the leading players. Passing the winning post just 2 lengths behind of the likes of Treve and Cirrus des Aigles is something not many turf runners are capable of, and the Sheema looks a good opportunity for Flintshire. It also presents him with a chance of revenge on Main Sequence, who beat him by half a length at the Breeders' Cup. Fabre's contender, and only runner on World Cup night, was a close second to another Sheema runner, the filly Dolniya, when reappearing over 1900 metres on Polytrack at Chantilly on March 3. He is an unusually reliable runner, who has finished in the top two in 10 of his 13 races to date.


MAIN SEQUENCE, crowned North America's Top Turf Runner of 2014 at the Eclipse Awards, is also in with a strong chance. This ex-European can take an unusual turf win for Team USA at Meydan. He lived up to his name last year, taking four top level turf events on the bounce. The Graham Motion trainee capped a superb season by winning the Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) at Santa Anita. Main Sequence had been in the winners' circle at Monmouth Park, Belmont Park and Saratoga already but, with strong Europeans going for the 12-furlong BC Turf, he was not the favourite at Santa Anita. He could well be the international favourite at Meydan. Punters like it when they see “11111” as the formline next to a horse's name. Main Sequence, who was runner-up to Camelot in the Epsom Derby (G1) two years ago, put up a great performance at Santa Anita. Flintshire, coming off a second to Treve in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1) in Paris, was the one to beat – and Main Sequence's fine late kick did just that. He went by the Frenchman to win by half a length. He looked full of energy passing the winning post. That was that for the year for Main Sequence, but Flintshire turned out once more, giving the form a boost by winning the Hong Kong Vase (G1) in December.


Main Sequence returned to racing action in the Mac Diarmida (G2) over 11 furlongs at Gulfstream Park last month, and looked as good as ever. He won his Dubai prep race with ease, after quickening past last year's winner Twilight Eclipse for a cheeky 3/4-length win . A son of top class sprint / miler Aldebaran, Main Sequence has developed into a very consistent runner. He could easily improve again this year. A steady pace – which seems likely in this contest – will not bother him as much as some of the others, and he will not be easy to beat here.


DONLIYA is an improving filly from France, and a rare Dubai runner for the Aga Khan. For some reason he has not seemed too interested in racing his horses here. Perhaps we are about to see a change in policy. Trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre, Dolniya firste entered the international scene when taking fifth in last year's 'Arc' at Longchamp. She did not have the smoothest of runs but ran on gamely to be beaten 4 ¼ lengths behind Treve. Flintshire was 2 ¼ lengths in front of her, as he filled second. The two met again in the Prix Darshaan, a conditions event over 1900 metres on Chantilly's Polytrack, on March 3. Dolniya gained revenge, beating Flintshire by a neck while receiving 2.5kg (Flintshire will be 0.5kg better off in the Sheema). Dolniya, who was a Listed winner over 10 furlongs at Compiegne last June, got first run on Flintshire – both horses were given a tender ride.


Flintshire has been racing exclusively over 12 furlongs going right back to June 2013, when he was beaten at odds-on in a conditions event over 10.5 furlongs. The distance was clearly in Dolniya's favour at Chantilly, but she probably has more improvement to come this year.


ONE AND ONLY proved himself to be fully efficient over this distance when winning last year's Japanese Derby (G1) by ¾ length from Isla Bonita – who had won the Japanese 2,000 Guineas (G1) on his previous start. This is quite solid form but One And Only's two runs against older horses, in the Japan Cup (G1) and Arima Kinen (G1) saw him unplaced twice (beaten 6 ¼ lengths and 5 ¼ lengths). A son of the 2006 Sheema winner Heart's Cry, this colt needs to find improvement to mix it with the best in this field.


SHEIKHZAYEDROAD began his new campaign well when placed behind Sky Hunter (a late defection from this race) on Super Saturday. This English trained challenger is game and honest, and he won the Northern Dancer (G1) over this distance last autumn - but he lacks the class to beat the best of these rivals.


TRUE STORY began this campaign as a potential Dubai Turf contender but is now back up to 12 furlongs, having finished fourth behind Sky Hunter on Super Saturday, when he appeared one paced and was beaten 2 ½ lengths. He justified favouritism when beating Mushreq on his seasonal debut, then went down by 2 lengths to Vercingetorix in the Al Rashidiya (G2) – both times running over 9 furlongs.

GLOBEFORM SELECTIONS

A: DESIGNS ON ROME, MAIN SEQUENCE

B: FLINTSHIRE, DOLNIA, HARP STAR

GLOBEFORM RATINGS

DUBAI TURF (G1)

Meydan, March 28 – 1800 metres turf


Globeform Ratings are expressed in

pounds (2lb = 1 length over this distance)


126 THE GREY GATSBY

118p SOLOW

117p MSHAWISH

117 EUROO CHARLINE (f)

112p CLADOCERA (f)

115 TRADE STORM

114 FARRAAJ

113 UMGIYO

110 LIMARIO

110 EARNSHAW


Euro Charline and Cladocera get a 2kg (4.4lb) sex weight allowance.

Please add 4.4 to their Globeform ratings for direct comparison with the males.

Ryan Moore - had the choice between

The Grey Gatsby and Euro Charline

Four Footed Fotos

GLOBEFORM ANALYSIS

Dual European Group 1 winner stands out on ratings


THE GREY GATSBY is a clear number one in this field, and hard to go against. There are a couple of worrying factors though. Firstly, the drop in distance, as he tries 9 furlongs having shown his best for over 10 furlongs in Europe last year. Secondly, we have the pace scenario.


Will The Grey Gatsby get the strong pace he likes? Perhaps not, but if he does he will be hard to beat. He came with a strong run from off the pace when beating Australia by a neck in last year's Irish Champion Stakes (G1) at Leopardstown, and stayed on well at the end of the race also when winning the Prix du Jockey Club (G1) at Chantilly. He ran to Globeform 126 when beating Australia, winner of both the Derby (G1) and the Irish Derby (G1), and if The Grey Gastby gets anywhere near that level of form at Meydan the others will be fighting for places. He is better over further but The Grey Gatsby ran respectably also in the Guineas and the Craven Stakes over the Newmarket Rowley Mile last spring and it is impossible to bet against hium in the Dubai Turf. This is not a vintage renewal of the race.


EURO CHARLINE has been underestimated by the bookmakers, and is freely available at 10-1 for the Dubai Turf. She performed to Globeform 117 when beating Stephanie's Kitten and Just The Judge in the Beverly D Stakes (G1) at Arlington Park last August. Her 2kg sex allowance means that she is our second top ranked runner here. She is coming back after a break caused by injury, but she will be well suited both by the distance and the likely pace scenario. This four-year-old filly looked well when working sharply over a mile at Chelmsford City in England 16 days prior to World Cup night.


SOLOW, representing France, was a very smooth winner of the Prix Daniel Wildenstein (G2) at Longchamp last October. Coming from off the pace, he won the mile contest cheekily by half a length from the filly Veda (unplaced in the Breeders' Cup Mile next time out). Solow, who had made all to win a G3 over the same distance at Deauville five weeks earlier, was an easy 4-length winner of a minor event when reappearing at Chantilly on March 3, again racing over a mile. He was odds-on to win and did so without breaking too much sweat. The places were filled by King Air (winless in his eight preceding starts) and Modagishio (winless six preceding starts). That race told us little new about Solow, who ended last year on a progressive note and looks open to improvement this year. He looked to be in rude health though, and is a very interesting contender.


MSHAWISH won the Zabeel Mile (G2) here at Meydan last year, when he also finished fourth in this race (then 'Duty Free') twelve months ago. Now trained by Todd Pletcher, he has returned to his best this year, taking two of the best turf events at Gulfstream Par. Mshawish resumed winning ways in the Ft. Lauderdale Stakes (G2) in January, keeping Grand Tito a safe neck behind him past the winning post. This was an ideal prep run for the 9-furlong Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1). He went to post as a clear favourite, and did come back as the winner – but only just, as a seriously troublesome trip nearly cost him the race. Mshawish was boxed in by the rail at the finish, seemingly with no chance of getting a clear run. Luckily, an opening emerged just in the nick of time, and Mshawish quickened right through it for a well deserved success. He beat Slumber by no more than a nose, and was value for a fair bit more. Mshawish, who was winning for a sixth time from 16 runs, was visually impressive in the Gulfstream Park Turf – and he is not without a chance here.


CLADOCERA has two nice wins already at Meydan, and steps up in class following an emphatic success in the Balanchine (G2) in February. She had taken the Cape Verdi (G2) over a mile in January, and the step up to 9 furlongs was no problem. Again confidently ridden by Soumillon, the daughter of Oasis Dream led a furlong out and won quite comfortably, passing the winning post 1 ¾ lengths in front of Anahita – who had been third in the Cape Verdi. Cape Verdi runner-up Zurigha was third, meaning that Cladocera has beaten the same rivals trice here in Dubai. She has looked a bit special, however, and there is certainly more to come from this filly. She ran a good race also when beaten just a neck by Sloane Avenue in a Listed race at Kempton in England last autumn (with Graphic one place behind her.


TRADE STORM made an encouraging start to his new campaign when second on Super Saturday. The race did not set up well for this closer, who is held up regardless of the pace scenario, and he did well t get up for second – a place he just snatched from 25-1 shot Johann Strauss. Trade Storm won the Woodbine Mile (G1) last year and ran a solid race also when third behind Karakontie and Anodin in the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1). He was fourth in this event two years ago, and has run a handful of good races at Meydan over the years.

GLOBEFORM SELECTIONS

A: THE GREY GATSBY

B: SOLOW, EURO CHARLINE

C: CLADOCERA

GLOBEFORM RATINGS

DUBAI GOLDEN SHAHEEN (G1)

Meydan, March 28 – 1200 metres dirt


Globeform Ratings are expressed in

pounds (3lb = 1 length over this distance)


120 RICH TAPESTRY

119 SALUTOS AMIGOS

119 SECRET CIRCLE *

117 BIG MACHER

116 LUCKY NINE

116 MONTIRIDGE *

113 EL PADRINO (NZ)

112 MUARRAB

110 KRYPTON FACTOR *

110 SHAISHEE

110 COOL COWBOY

110 UNITED COLOUR

108 SPEED HAWK

109 SUPER JOCKEY


* Secret Circle GF 122 in 2013

* Montiridge GF 116 in England, 2013, now in Saudi Arabia

* Krypton Factor GF 114 in 2013

Rich Tapestry winning in Dubai last year. Photo: Andrew Watkins

GLOBEFORM ANALYSIS

North American form likely to dominate


SALUTOS AMIGOS is the most logical pick in this sprint, which is likely to fall to a horse with North American form. That includes Hong Kong representative Rich Tapsetry, who won at Santa Anita last year. Salutos Amigos is the one who brings recent form to the table. He won impressively at Aqueduct on March 7, taking his fourth straight win and his ninth overall, and he has solid form in top company. Trained by David Jacobsen, a horseman who is showing a 24% strike rate and is boasting an even better record in stakes races, Salutos Amigos won the Tom Fool Handicap (G3) over 6 furlongs (1200 metres) with a strong performance three weeks ago. He had missed some training leading up to the event, and he was burdened with top weight, but overcame these circumstances without breaking too much sweat. After racing with great zest in third spot until turning for home, he went smoothly past the second favourite Dads Caps at the finish and beat him by 4 lengths. Jockey Cornelious Velasquez never had to resort to the whip to get his mount into top gear. Salutos Amigos won with plenty in hand, stopping the clocks in 1.09.6, a good time when it comes to winter racing at Aqueduct.


All of his four recent wins have come at Aqueduct, though a win in the Bold Ruler Handicap (G3) at Belmont Park, and a fine race in defeat in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) at Santa Anita, shows that he handles various venues. His streak started three weeks after he had finished seventh, beaten just 3 lengths, to Work All Week at the Breeders' Cup last November. Salutos Amigos came back home to carry a massive top weight to victory in the Fall Highweight Handicap (G3) – beating Mewannarose by almost two lengths while carrying nine pounds more than the runner-up. Mewannarose was second again when Salutos Amigos followed up in the Gravesend Stakes during the Christmas racing at Aqueduct, and Dads Caps was second best as he took the Toboggan Stakes (G3) in January. Salutos Amigos has thus been beating mainly the same rivals when enjoying such a fine winter in the Big Apple, but make no mistake about it, this is a highly efficient and classy sprinter. And he is very game.


RICH TAPESTRY was second to Sterling City in the Golden Shaheen last year, having beaten Reynaldothewizard to win the traditional prep race on Super Saturday three weeks prior. Such form makes him an interesting contender this time also of course, but anyone who liked the look of this Hong Kong based sprinter twelve months ago have even more to like these days – as he showed even better form in California last autumn. A big, powerful and imposing son of Holy Roman Emperor, Rich Tapestry beat one of the best horses in the US when capturing the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1). Not just that, he had one of today's rivals back in third place. He was favoured by the weights and may have been a bit lucky as he beat top dirt miler Goldencents by a nose, but note that Secret Circle was beaten 1 ¾ lengths by these two. Based on this run Rich Tapestry, who is built very much like a dirt track performer, became one of the favourites for the Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) in November – but he failed to show his form on the big day and came home in last place. Something was clearly amiss, and his jockey eased him at the finish. Secret Circle finished second. Rich Tapestry's best form has come over 6 furlongs, he is one of the top rated runners in this field, he comes here after a long break and that was the case also when he beat Goldencents.


SECRET CIRCLE, conditioned by two time World Cup winning trainer Bob Baffert, is a versatile performer. The six-year-old son of Eddington has a good chance of cashing in at Meydan. His career best is his Breeders' Cup win a year and a half ago, when he beat Laugh Track by a neck after delivering a strong finish. His form was not quite the same last term but he wasn't beaten more than half a length by Work All Week when going for back-to-back wins in America's best sprint, and was compromised by the way the track played when second to Private Zone at Aqueduct. Private Zone benefited from a speed favouring surface and made all for a 5-length win, while Secret Circle was second, a neck in front of Bourbon Courage. Secret Circle's most recent start was a game runner-up effort behind rising sprint star Conquest Two Step in the Palos Verdes Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita on New Year's eve. He has won seven of his 15 races, finished second six times and third once. Almost 93% in the top three.


BIG MACHER's form is not far off the trio above. He managed to beat Goldencents by half a length when in receipt of two pounds in the 6-furlong Bing Crosby Handicap (G1) at Del Mar last summer (Polytrack), and returned to the same course to win a minor event over 7 furlongs in November. In between these two wins, Big Macher ran sixth in the Pat O'Brien (G2) – behind Goldencents – and ninth in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1). He was fifth of six, 11 lengths behind Conquent Typhoon in the Palos Verdes (G2) at Santa Anita two months ago (Secret Circle finished second).


LUCKY NINE is a smart Hong Kong sprinter who won back-to-back editions of the the KrisFlyer International Sprint (G1) in Singapore in 2013 – 2014. He has been a game and consistent runner over the years, and also has the 2011 Hong Kong Sprint (G1) in his collection. He has not been up to his best in his four starts this past autumn / winter, but shaped with promise when third in a 6-furlong Listed event at Sha Tin in February, when he went down by just a short head and a head behind the smart miler Gold-Fun and Aerovelicity. Phenaphobia was a close fourth, in what was a good turf sprint. How Lucky Nine will take to the Meydan dirt track is anybody's guess – but what we know is that he will need to recapture his best form to win this.


MONTIRIDGE is the dark horse in the field, as he is coming off a near ten-length win over 7 furlongs in Saudi Arabia in January, when he bossed the field from start to finish and won in what appeared to be a decent time. He was capable of GF 116 when trained by Richard Hannon in England back in 2013. His win in Saudi was gained over a Savanna La Mar, 10- to 12-furlong performer who was coming off an uplaced run in a local G3 (10 ¾ lengths behind Ron the Greek), and perhaps one should not read too much into this result. Anyway, it would be no surprise to see Montiridge finishing in the top four.


The Golden Shaheen looks the best race to go for if you fancy a Trifecta, perhaps even a Superfecta play on the day. The local sprinters are not really up to G1 level and our four top rated runners really do stand out. Montiridge is the one of the others it makes sense to include.

GLOBEFORM SELECTIONS

A: SALUTOS AMIGOS

B: BIG MACHER, RICH TAPESTRY, SECRET CIRCLE

C: MONTIRIDGE

GLOBEFORM'S

PREMIER SERVICE

ENGLISH TURF SEASON 2015

Starts in April

41% on-course winners last year

First bet was a £100 winner at 3-1

Positive balance throughout the season

Detailed raceday reports, horse by horse;

notes; pre-parade ring, paddock, going

down, coming back in.

Notebook updated weekly. Entry alerts. Value bets. Go to Premier Service for full details

GLOBEFORM RATINGS

DUBAI GOLD CUP (G1)

Meydan, March 28 – 3200 metres turf


Globeform Ratings are expressed in

pounds (1lb = 1 length over this distance)


117 BROWN PANTHER

114 BATHYRHON

112 ALMOONQITH

112 DUBDAY

112 AHZEEMAH

112 COOPTADO

111 MEANDRE *

111 MARZOCCO

110 RIO TIGRE

108 STAR EMPIRE *

107 DORMELLO

107 MUSHREQ *

106 HAVANA BEAT

104 BRASS RING

101? VAASA


* Meandre GF 115 in 2014

* Mushreq GF 114 in 2014

* Star Empire GF 112 in 2014

GLOBEFORM ANALYSIS

One name stands out in staying race


BROWN PANTHER is a clear number one in this field, having won prestigious staying events in England and Ireland last year. He has had this contest as his target ever since a fruitless trip to last year's Breeders' Cup – when he was unplaced but far from disgraced, 5 ¾ lengths, behind Main Sequence in the Breeders' Cup Turf (G1). This step up in trip, and the big drop in class, will suit him so much better. Brown Panther outclassed two previous English St Leger (G1) winners, Leading Light and Encke, when running away with the Irish St Leger (G1) at The Curragh last September. He was also third in the Gold Cup (G1) at Royal Ascot, beaten half a length by Leading Light. A repeat of such performances will be more than enough to beat these stayers. The division is not strong in Dubai this year. Brown Panther likes soft ground but he acts also on good and good to firm ground.


BATHYRHON, set to represent France, developed into a fine stayer towards the end of last season and could be a bit of a surprise package here. After finishing last of four, 3 ½ lengths behind subsequent Melbourne Cup (G1) winner Protectionist in a G2 at Deauville, he moved forward with two good runs at Longchamp. A decisive win over Kicky Blue and High Jinx in the Prix Gladiateur (G3) was followed up with a game second to the latter in the Prix Du Cadran (G1). The Gladiateur distance of 3100 metres may have suited him better than the 4000 metres of the Cadran, though he was staying on really well also in that event. The third placed Pale Mimosa went on to run a good fourth to Tac De Boistron in the Prix Royal-Oak (G1) three weeks later and the Cadran form looks sound. Barhythron is normally held up at the back early and delivered with a late run. A strongly-run race would suit him well here and he looks the main danger to our selection.


ALMOONQITH improved markedly when stepping up to 2800 metres (14 furlongs) in the Nad Al Sheba Trophy (G3) on February 28, when he was a solid 1 1/2-length winner from Rio Tigre. Star Empire was the same margin further back in third, with Havana Beat fourth and Meandre fifth. Paul Hanagan rode a waiting race on Almoonqith, who came with an excellent run from off the pace to lead inside the last quarter mile. He ran on in a manner suggesting he would stay further, and he must also be considered.


DUBDAY is coming off a bloodless win in a valuable 12-furlong event in Qatar, where he is one of the top performers. He was tailed off when running against Gentildonna & Co in the Sheema last year but is clearly a lot better than that showing. He beat Very Nice Name over 11 furlongs in Doha 13 months ago, and that rival went on to run respectably when visiting France in 2013. Based on ratings, Dubday has a chance to make his presence felt here, though whether he will appreciate this test of stamina is another matter. He is a son top class miler Dubawi out of the 10-furlong winner Dayriose, a daughter of Daylami – a top level winner from a mile (at three) to a mile and a half.


MEANDRE has been performing well in Dubai but, compared to his best form when trained by Andre Fabre in France, one must say he has been a disappointment for his new connections. He was beaten a length into third behind Famous Kid when racing off 113 in a handicap two starts back, and finished over seven lengths behind Almoonqith in the Nad Al Sheba Trophy (G3) a month ago.


AHZEEMAH (second to Cavalryman in the G2 Goodwood Cup last summer), COOPTADO (3 lengths fifth to Sky Hunter over 12 furlongs on Super Saturday), STAR EMPIRE (who stayed on well last time and may be on his way back to form) and MARZOCCO (fifth in the St. Leger in last year but an unimpressive odds-on winner against lesser rivals at Chelmsford City earlier this month), are quite closely matched and all in with a chance of a placing.

GLOBEFORM SELECTIONS

A: 14 BROWN PANTHER

B: 8 BATHYRHON, 9 ALMOONQITH

C: 5 DUBDAY

GLOBEFORM RATINGS

GODOLPHIN MILE (G2)

Meydan, March 28 – 1600 metres dirt


Globeform Ratings are expressed in

pounds (2lb = 1 length over this distance)


116 TAMARKUZ

116 BRADESTER

116 PRAYER FOR RELIEF

114 GRAPHIC

112p SLOANE AVENUE

112 SURFER

112 FRANKYFOURFINGERS

112 FOOTBRIDGE

111 FORJATT

? PYLON

109 GOLD CITY

108 LAYL

108 QUADRIVIUM

107 NOLOHAY

106 HAATHEQ

102 FREE WHEELING

GLOBEFORM ANALYSIS

Top five on ratings evenly matched

Stalls 1 through 5 have proved best at this trip


BRADESTER is the narrow selection here. He is capable of beating these rivals, he has the right (prominent) running style for this track, and he goes well fresh. UK bookmakers have him at 14-1 and that is certainly too big for this contender. He has done well against better rivals in the US, where he ran his best race to date when landing the Ack Ack Handicap (G3) over this distance at Churchill Downs last September. Giving the runner-up one pound, Bradester beat Carve by 1 ¾ lengths to achieve Globeform 116. His runner-up was coming off three straight wins (one over the same course and distance) and previous G2 winner Flashback was beaten 7 ¼ lengths into third. Bradester will be making his seasonal debut in the Godolphin Mile, but that's hardly a worry; he won at Gulfstream Park on his seasonal bow last year and was coming off a break also when winning the Ack Ack. Coming here fresh is probably an advantage. Stall five is a very good starting point.


TAMARKUZ is coming off three solid wins here at Meydan, and he has produced Globeform 116 and Globeform 115 on his two most recent outings. He is also a prominent runner, and very effective over this course. His connections could hardly have wished for a better draw, as he is set to break from stall one. He was a bit more impressive two starts back than he was on Super Saturday, when he seemed to have a hard race. He won well enough though, beating Gold City by 2 ¾ lengths, with Layl half a length further back in third place. Tamarkuz is likely to beat these rivals again and he has been put up as the favourite for this mile contest. Which makes sense. He has strong recent form and he has home court advantage. But should he be as short as 2-1 to win again? Not so sure about that. Don't forget, this horse could also bounce.


PRAYER FOR RELIEF is in the same league as Bradester in the USA, and he has experience of meeting high class runners – but he does not have the same prominent running style. Prayer for Relief was last seen in action when finishing fourth in the Donn Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs in February, beaten by Constitution, World Cup contender Lea and Elnaawi. Passing the winning post 8 lengths behind the winner, he was not at his best that day. He ran a better race four weeks earlier, to be third behind Lea in the Hal's Hope Stakes (G3), this time beaten no more than half a length. Prayer for Relief has never won in Grade 1 company, but he has produced some solid performances in defeat at the top level, most notably when running a good third behind Itsmyluckyday and Moreno in the 9-furlong Woodward Stakes (G1) at Saratoga last summer. He has the right combination of class and experience to make an impact on the Godolphin Mile, particularly if the early pace is fast. A slowly run affair (which seems unlikely) would not suit Prayer for Relief. His best form has been over further than a mile in the USA.


SLOANE AVENUE is a very interesting contender. Shipped out to Florida for the Donn Handicap (G1) last month, he picked up a minor injury ruling him out of that contest, where he would have met Constitution and Lea. This is a better spot for him, and he is the one horse that might show significant improvement. He beat Dubai Turf contender Cladocera narrowly in a Listed race over a mile at Kempton Park last autumn, when GRAPHIC was half a length behind the filly. Sloane Avenue was held up at Kempton, where he raced a bit keenly at the back of the field. Hold up tactics were employed also in Sloane Avenue's two previous wins, and from stall 15 he has just one option here – to drop in behind again – and coming from off the pace has proved difficult on this track. Sloane Avenue has only five runs under his belt but this is his third overseas journey.


GRAPHIC booked his ticket to the Godolphin Mile when going to the winners' circle at Wolverhampton in England last month. This tough and streetwise six-year-old was winning for a ninth time from 31 career outings as he got home a length in front of Diescentric with subsequent winner Chookie Royal back in third place. Graphic was racing just behind the early leader early on, took command with less than 200 metres to run, and kept on for a game win. The distance was 8.5 furlongs, a bit further than the Godolphin Mile, but possessing a bit of stamina is is not going to be a bad thing in this contest. Graphic has good form over a mile, having gained five of his wins over this distance, most notably the Prix Messidor (G3) at Maisons-Laffitte outside Paris last summer. Frankie Dettori rode him on this occasion, and sent him straight to the lead from the outset. Pilot, who has run some fine races in defeat at this Carnival, finished second and Line Drummer, who had won over the same course on his previous start, was third.


SURFER may be the best local hope but this prominent runner has tough task from stall 16.

He is still going strong at the age of six and gained his fifth win from 21 runs when taking the Al Maktoum Challenge Round One (G2) in January. Surfer had already had a run at Meydan before the Carnival started, winning the Dubai Creek Mile (LR) in December, and he looked really well in himself in the preliminaries to the first round of the Al Maktoum Series. He raced prominently with great zest throughout, took command early in the straight and ran out quite a comfortable winner, 2 ¼ lengths in front of the French import FRANKYFOURFINGERS, with Haatheq third. Surfer was pricking his ears passing the winning post and had something to spare. Logically, he was the most fancied as these three met again in the second round, run over 1900 metres a month later. The field was lot deeper though, with last year's Dubai World Cup (G1) winner African Story and his stable companion Prince Bishop at the forefront. Surprisingly the race was won by the ex-French Frankyfourfingers, who led from gate to wire under a fine Mickael Barzalona ride. Surfer tracked him around the new dirt course he clearly enjoys but tired a bit in the home straight and had to settle for fourth, 1 ½ lengths behind Frankyfourfingers. Haatheq was one place behind Surfer, confirming that the first round was a decent race.


Neither Surfer nor Frankyfourfingers can be ruled out – in what is an open looking race.


FOOTBRIDGE ran to Globeform 112 once last year, when he was probably flattered in third place behind Shared Belief and Fed Biz in the Goodwood Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita. He ran well below such form in his handicap run here at Meydan in February and is hard to fancy.​

GLOBEFORM SELECTIONS

A: 5 BRADESTER

B: 1 TAMARKUZ

C: 8 PRAYER FOR RELIEF, 9 GRAPHIC, 15 SLOANE AVENUE

GLOBEFORM RATINGS

THE AL QUOZ SPRINT (G1)

Meydan, March 28 – 1000 metres turf


Globeform Ratings are expressed in

pounds (3lb = 1 length over this distance)


120 SOLE POWER

117 PENIAPHOBIA

116 AMBER SKY

116 STEPPER POINT

115 AHTOUG

115 BUNDLE OF JOY

114 SIR MAXIMILIAN

114 CASPAR NETSCHER

114 DISTINCTIV PASSION

113 VIA AFRICA

113 FARMAH

110 HOTOTO

110 MIRZA

109 CASPIAN PRINCE

109 LANCELOT DU LAC

107 GREEN MASK

GLOBEFORM ANALYSIS

The day's most open race


SOLE POWER is well known in Dubai, having taken part in the last four editions of this valuable turf sprint. He was unplaced in 2011, second to Ortensia in 2012, fourth to Shea She in 2013 and unplaced behind Amber Sky last year. Sole Power is eight years old now but sprinters often keep their form right up to the age of ten, quite a few even improve as older horses. This old warrior was holding his own in the top division in England last year, when he proved as good as ever with an excellent big race double in the summer. Sole Power won the King's Stand Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot in June, and followed up in the Nunthorpe Stakes (G1) at York in August – without another run in between. Both these races are staged over 5 furlongs, near enough to 1,000 metres, and the Al Quoz suits him really well. The son of Kyllachy has been successful ten times over seven different courses, but never managed to get his head first past the post in Dubai. Don't get surprised if he does just that this time around. His unplaced effort on Super Saturday was a bit disappointing but it was just a warm-up race. We can expect to see Sole Power in much sharper form here.


AMBER SKY, last year's winner of this straight-course sprint, is a horse the connections of every other contender will fear, although he is not coming off a perfect prep run at home this time. Twelve months ago the six-year-old son of Australian sprint ace Exceed And Excel used a win in the Centenary Sprint Cup (G1) at Sha Tin as a stepping stone to the Al Quoz Sprint, which he won by a neck from Ahtoug. He went to post for the Centenary Cup also this winter, but performed way below expectations and came home last, some ten lengths behind PENIAPHOBIA, who he is set to meet again at Meydan. Now, there are preps and there are preps. The Centenary is run two months before World Cup night, and it's result will not always have such a bearing on the Al Quoz. A lot can happen with a horse in the space of two months. Trainer Ricky Yiu probably wouldn't have sent Amber Sky to Dubai unless the gelding has been sending out the right signals in his morning workouts. Amber Sky is a high class sprinter when on song. Furthermore, he must be particularly hungry for revenge against Peniaphobia, since that rival beat him also in the Jockey Club Sprint (G2) at Sha Tin last November. That win set Peniaphobia up for a good second in the Hong Kong Sprint (G1) in December, a race Amber Sky sat out. These Hong Kong sprinters are really sharp, and will be amongst the favourites here.


STEPPER POINT is way overpriced with a couple of bookmakers, and can be backed at 25-1 with Betfair Sportsbook. This is such an open affair, and not an event to get seriously involved in betting wise, so why not take a shot at this runner at a big price. He won first time out last year, and went on to complete a really good campaign. Stepper Point is a horse that often seems underestimated. He went off at 50-1 when second to Sole Power in the King's Stand Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot – where he was beaten 1 ¼ lengths – and was a 20-1 shot as he filled the same place behind Sole Power again in the Nunthorpe Stakes (G1) at York. Stepper point was beaten only half a length on that occasion (though it needs mentioning that Sole Power was value for more than the bare margin). Three weeks later Stepper Point shipped to Ireland, where he won a Group 3 in good style, beating recent Meydan scorer Sir Maximilian by almost three lengths. So why is Stepper Point 25-1 for the Golden Shaheen? Hard to understand. He is well worth an each-way bet.


AHTOUG went close to winning this race twelve months ago, when he showed improved form to go down by just a neck to Amber Sky. He beat previous Al Quoz winner Shea Shea by a head for second place. Ahtoug had smart form in the book going into the race but this result took him to a new level. And the good news is; he appears to continue the climb this year. He needed one run under his belt to reach winning form, something he did in a tough handicap over the Al Quoz distance in February. Ahtoug was ridden patiently early on in the race, made his move at the halfway stage and finished the race off strongly to catch Lancelot du Lac and win by a head while carrying 1kg more than his nearest rival. The runner-up had won a similar contest at Lingfield Park in England on his previous start, and the third placed Sir Maximilian was a stakes winner in Ireland last year.


Sir Maximilian gained revenge on Ahtoug when they met again in the Meydan Sprint on Super Saturday, a race the latter snatched in the last few strides, finishing well to beat Ahtoug by a short head. It was a tremendously close finish, with England's Caspar Netscher just a nose behind Ahtoug in third. Ahtoug was intimidated a little when the early leader Caspian Prince cut across his path inside the last 200 metres. Ahtoug kept his momentum but this could not have helped. Ahtoug is a strong, really attractive horse. He must have a good chance on World Cup night.


BUNDLE OF JOY was beaten only a short head by Pheniaphobia over this distance at Sha Tin in January, and he beat the same rival by 2 lengths in 6-furlong event over the same course last October. He has good early speed.


SIR MAXIMILIAN may be a six-year-old with a profile making him look rather exposed, but his win on Super Saturday indicated that he is on the upgrade these days. He came with a storming run from behind, found his way between horses, and got up to pip Ahtoug and Caspar Netscher in a triple photo finish. Sir Maximilian, who won two Listed class sprints in Ireland last year, had run fifth in a competitive handicap over the same 1000-metres trip seven days earlier, when passing the post just under three lengths behind Ertijaal – another very interesting turf sprinter who is on the up the ladder these days. There isn't much between these turf sprinters, and luck in running is bound to matter. The Al Quoz Sprint has been won by some seriously good speed merchants over the years, and from time to time we have seen a dominant performance. That may not be the case this time, as the top half dozen going for the race are very closely matched.


CASPAR NETSCHER (winner of the G2 Neractic in Canada last year and a close third to Sir Maximilian on Super Saturday) and Californian G3 winner DISTINCTIV PASSION are closely matched on previous form – but both seem a notch below what's needed to win this contest. The latter, a runner with sharp early speed, is making the switch from dirt to turf.

GLOBEFORM SELECTIONS

A: STEPPER POINT

B: SOLE POWER

C: AHTOUG, AMBER SKY, PHENIAPHOBIA, SIR MAXIMILIAN

GLOBEFORM RATINGS

THE UAE DERBY (G2)

Meydan, March 28 – 1900 metres dirt


Globeform Ratings are expressed in

pounds (2lb = 1 length over this distance)


114? SIR FEVER *

111p MUBTAAHIJ

110p GOLDEN BAROWS (photo)

110 MAFTOOL

108 ALNAJEM ALFAIZ

106 DEAR DOMUS

106 TAP THAT

106 FAITHFUL CREEK

101 MY JOHNNY BE GOOD

99 MOTAA


* Sir Fever GF 114? in 2014 / GF 106p seasonal debut in 2015

GLOBEFORM ANALYSIS

A very disappointing Derby field


MUBTAAHIJ had no trouble beating Sir Fever on the Al Bastalkiya (G3) and Mike de Kock's charge – the only US Triple Crown Series nominated horse in this field – could turn out to be the one to beat agin. Not that he looks anywhere near good enough to be a serious contender for the Kentucky Derby (G1).

He was beaten by Maftool in the UAE 2,000 Guineas (G3), when he seemed a bit short on stamina, but the impression was quite the opposite as he stretched out to 1900 metres in the Al Bastakiya three weeks ago. Mubtaahij proved too good for the unbeaten South American import Sir Fever, and won the important Derby prep by 2 1/2 lengths. The two had the race between them all the way down the home stretch, pulling well clear of the others. Mubtaahij confirmed that he is an improving sort. The rematch between Mubtaahij and Maftool will be an interesting one. Their form is working out well, and they both have a good chance in this $2 million classic.


MAFTOOL, who won the Sommerville Tattersall Stakes (G3) in England last year and followed up with a gritty win in the UAE 2,000 Guineas (G3) at Meydan, has the class and experience needed for a competitive event like this, but the big question is stamina – as he has shown a lot of speed, and also comes from a family with plenty of speed. He got the 1600 metres trip well enough when beating Mubtaahij by a head in the Guineas, though stretching out to 1900 metres can be a totally different ballgame. Particularly if the early pace is strong.


SIR FEVER was an outstanding champion in Uruguay last year. He won all of his ten races in his homeland. Trained by Jorge A. Piritz, he produced his career best on the final start of his campaign, when beating Fletcher by over five lengths in the Gran Premio Nacional (G1), staged over 2500 metres. Fletcher was coming off a fine win in a Group 3 event at the same venue but he had no chance against Sir Fever, who led throughout and drew right off under a hand ride to win with ease. He had won the Gran Premio Jockey Club (G1) over 2000 metres a month earlier, cruising home by four lengths, and had also landed the Gran Premio Polla de Potrillos, a top a level event over 1600 metres. These three races, also won by Invasor ten years ago, form the Uruguayan Triple Crown. Sir Fever has won races from 1000 to 2500 metres, but stamina is probably his forte. He met defeat for the first time when beaten by Mubtaahij on Super Saturday though, and perhaps he needs both more time and longer distances to acclimatise.


This division has been less than inspiring at Meydan this winter though, and it is tempting to go for one of the new faces on the scene.


GOLDEN BAROWS, a Japanese trained, but US bred, son of Tapit makes a lot of sense. This well bred colt is coming off three straight wins, all over 1600 metres in Tokyo. He was long odds-on forr all three races. Ryan Moore, who partnered him in what was a procession when he broke his maiden four months ago, takes the ride. Golden Barows stepped up to allowance company on his first start this year, came across a sloppy track, and won comfortably by 3 ½ lengths from Nobo Baccara. A month later he treated a Listed race much in the same manner, winning the Hyacinth Stakes by 3 ½ lengths from Edenhall. Golden Barows came from off the pace to take the lead with less than a furlong to go and won as he pleased. DEAR DOMUS was back in fourth, two places better than TAP DANCE. The field counted 16 runners. Dear Domus had beaten Tap Dance by half a length to take a Listed event at Kawasaki late in 2014.


Golden Barows is clearly a very talented runner, he is on the upgrade, and if

there is a proper G2 performer in this edition of the UAE Derby it's probably him.

GLOBEFORM SELECTIONS

A: 7 GOLDEN BAROWS

B: 1 MUBTAAHIJ

C: 4 SIR FEVER, 9 MAFTOOL

HIGH PROFILE CONTENDERS

DUBAI SHEEMA CLASSIC

MAIN SEQUENCE IN FOCUS

With four straight wins at the highest level in the USA last year, culminating in the Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) at Santa Anita, Main Sequence is a seriously strong contender for the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) on World Cup night. He was a very promising runner in England at age two and three, when trained by David Lanagan, and managed second behind Camelot in the Derby (G1) at Epsom Downs – after having win the Lingfield Derby Trial (G3) on his previous start. Camelot moved on to add the Irish Derby (G1) to his impressive CV, but Main Sequence became somewhat frustrating, finishing second in a Group 2 at York and only fifth in the St Leger (G1) at Doncaster. His four-year-old career was downright disappointing, and itr was decided to geld the son of Aldebaran – and to send him across the Atlantic to join trainer Graham Motion's team at Fair Hill in Maryland.

Main Sequence Photo: Breeders' Cup Inc.

These changes were a success. Main Sequence quickly made his presence felt in the North American turf division. He made a great start to his new career by winning the United Nations Stakes (G1) over 11 furlongs (about 2200 metres) at Monmouth Park in New Jersey last July, when he beat Twilight Eclipse and Side Glance – a horse many will remember for his gallant fourth in last year's Dubai World Cup (G1). Motion drew up a plan pointing Main Sequence towards the Breeders' Cup, and sent his new star to Saratoga for the Sword Dancer Invitational (G1) in August. Stretching out to a mile and a half, Main Sequence once more finished well to lead close home, this time for a photo finish verdict over Imagining, winner of the Man o'War Stakes (G1) earlier in the season. Twilight Eclipse finished third in the Sword Dancer. Six weeks later, the top three for the Saratoga event clashed again in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park in New York. The result was just altered a little. Main Sequence overcame a troubled start to get into a good position in this mile and a half event, and kicked in with a late burst that took him past Twilight Eclipse for a neck-win. Imagining was a length further adrift in third. As he had done so many times before, Main Sequence flashed his tail at the finish but it did not stop him from going forward. He also came off a true line, on the other hand, and bumped Twilight Eclipse as they approached the winning line. Jockey Jose Lezcano, who rode the runner-up, lodged an objection but it was overruled by the Stewards and Main Sequence kept the race.


His biggest task was now ahead of him and he came through that with flying colours too, taking the Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) by half a length from the French trained Flintshire, a contender coming off a good second behind Treve in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1). The tactics were the same as in his three preceding races. Main Sequence was held up and came with a powerful run down the home stretch. He hit the front with less than 200 metres to go, was again flashing his tail, and kept on really well to win with a bit in hand. Twilight Eclipse did his bit for the home team by finishing third ahead of the English trained favourite Telescope, a most impressive winner at Royal Ascot in the summer.


Main Sequence was nominated to the coveted title as US Horse of The Year at the annual Eclipse Wards. As expected, the title that went to World Cup contender California Chrome, while Main Sequence won two Eclipse Awards, as Champion Turf Male and Champion Older Male.

DUBAI TURF

EURO CHARLINE IN FOCUS

Dubai Turf (G1) contender Euro Charline, racing for the internationally successful Team Valor and trained by Marco Botti, began last season as one of several promising three-year-old fillies in England. She had won twice at lowly Wolverhampton, and ready to meet better rivals. After some fine runs in defeat in the summer, she ended up as one of the most successful of her division, with wins in the one-mile Valiant Stakes (LR) at Ascot and the Beverly D Stakes (G1) over 1900 metres at Arlington Park outside Chicago on her last two starts. 

The daughter of Myboycharlie beat Stephanie's Kitten – one of the best turf ladies in the US – by three parts of a length at Arlington, where Irish 1,000 Guineas (G1) winner Just The Judge finished third. Stephanie's Kitten went on to win the Flower Bowl Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park and run second in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1), a race that had also been in Euro Charline's diary. Unfortunately, she picked up an injury after winning the Beverly D, and needed a rest. She returned to Botti's stables in Newmarket, and has reportedly come through her preparations for a trip to Dubai in good style. Euro Charline will probably be Team Valor's only runner on Dubai World Cup night. They enjoyed visiting Meydan two years ago, when their champion Animal Kingdom ran away with the Dubai World Cup (G1). This filly is nowhere near as good as he was, but she is a smart turf performer, with 4 wins from 7 starts, and she could well find further improvement this year. The girls often do well well in this contest, formerly known as the Dubai Duty Free. Sajjhaa won it for Godolphin two years ago. South African darling Ipi Tombe beat the boys here in 2003, a year after Terre A Terre had won the same for France..

Photo: Euro Charline winning the Beverly D Stakes Photo: Fouyr Footed Fotos

TEAM VALOR FILLY

RIGHT ON SCHEDULE

Team Valor International's four-year-old filly Euro Charline, who is being pointed at the Dubai Turf (G1) on Dubai World Cup night at Meydan, created a favourable impression when going through her paces in a racecourse gallop at Chelmsford City racecourse in England on March 12.


Photo: Cooling down after the gallop


Partnered by Ryan Moore, who rode this filly to success in the Beverly D Stakes (G1) at Arlington Park last summer, Euro Charline looked in fine form in a sharp mile workout in company with two stable companions.

She was sitting last through the first five furlongs, then asked to quicken up in the straight. Her response was very positive indeed, and she turned it on really well to take command inside the final furlong and “win” going away at the finish. The pacesetter was not at all hard ridden as Euro Charline came to challenge, but the filly was still visually impressive. She looked well composed coming back in after the workout, and soon after her rider had jumped off she was lobbing around to cool down. She seems to be mentally strong.


Trainer Marco Botti was clearly very satisfied with what he saw; “That went to plan”, said the young Italian, “I could not be happier with this job”, he said, “I thought she quickened up well. She will travel out to Dubai on the 21st of March”


Botti could not yet confirm the rider at Meydan though. “We hope Ryan Moore will be available”, he commented, “but if he can't ride her I'm sure we will find another jockey”. Asked about how he sees her chances on the big day Botti pointed at Godolphin's main contender as the big danger; “I guess Hunter's Light will be tough”, he said, “he looked good on Super Saturday. It is a big ask for our filly to go into this race after a long break – but in my opinion she looks a stronger filly this year. I'm looking forward to running her”.


Euro Charline is a British bred daughter of Prix Morny (G1) winner Myboycharlie. Her dam, Eurolink Artemis (Common Grounds) was no star but she won six races over five different tracks and was placed nine times. Euro Charline has four wins from seven career starts so far, and her finest hour came when she defeated a strong field in the Beverly D Stakes, a race that is about half a furlong further than the Dubai Turf distance. She was also successful over a mile at Ascot, having won twice at Wolverhampton as a juvenile back in 2013. Euro Charline beat colts and geldings in one of those two races but competed exclusively against her own sex in 2014.


Ryan Moore, diplomatically quiet as always on his brief visit to Chelmsford, is the obvious number one choice for Euro Charline's connections – but the four-year-old colt The Grey Gatsby complicates matters somewhat, as he may also be heading to the Dubai Turf. Moore rode The Grey Gatsby to a famous win in last year's Irish Champion Stakes (G1), where the Kevin Ryan trainee beat the hot favourite Australia. He was also in the saddle when The Grey Gatsby won the Prix du Jockey-Club (G1) at Chantilly in France, and if the big grey colt runs at Meydan, well, then it may be hard for the top jockey to desert him. With just two weeks to the big racing feast, all such pieces will soon need to be falling into place, and which horses Moore decides to partner is always a hot topic.

DUBAI WORLD CUP

AFRICAN STORY IN FOCUS

No horse has managed to win the Dubai World Cup twice. Can African Story, a game winner of the $10-million race last year, become the first? He's in with a shot – and it would be some feat if he pulls it off. Not only would be be the first back-to-back winner of the race, it would also be achieved on two quite different racing surfaces. African Story ran over the old Tapeta track, an artificial surface, when beating Mukhadram twelve months ago. This time, he will have to run as well, if not even better, over a conventional dirt track – which replaced the Tapeta before this season. Such a scenario seemed rather unlikely after he had 

made his first start on this dirt track. African Story reappeared in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round III (G2), where he met a group of foes he should be able to handle. But would he handle the track? The answer, at least for the day, was a firm no. African Story appeared unhappy on the dirt and finished seventh.

The race was won by Frankyfourfingers from Prince Bishop, who had taken the event in 2014. A month later, these three met again in the third round of the series, as the trip was upped to the same 2000 metres as the World Cup, and the reward was a Group One win. African Story bounced right back with a gutsy performance, winning from Prince Bishop, with longhsot Henry Clay third and Frankyfourfingers back in fourth. This result brought African Story back into the World Cup picture. Jockey James Doyle sent him straight to the lead from the outset but African Story as they went around the home bend African Story looked a beaten horse. He was dropping back and his rider was hard at work. Then, as speed mad rivals in front of him began to tire, he found a new gear, and passed them to take command deep into the finish. Prince Bishop, who had been struggling way out the back early on, finished best of the rest and passed horse by horse for second, though could never get to to grips with African Story, who won by a neck. The rest of the field was well strung out behind the two stable companions, both eight years old.


This was African Story's eighth win from 19 starts, and it brought his bankroll up to a staggering $7,665,831. That figure might rise once more after the 20th running on the the World Cup.

DUBAI WORLD CUP

CALIFORNIA CHROME IN FOCUS

California Chrome, who won the Kentucky Derby (G1) in such style, was voted Horse Of The Year in the USA last year – and he will be the biggest star show on World Cup night at Meydan. He had to settle for third behind Bayern and Toast Of New York in the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1), but California Chrome was North American racing's number one star last year. He began his climb to fame in low-key races for statebreds in California, racing over quick dirt tracks, and he rounded his classic campaign off by winning the Hollywood Derby (G1) on turf just four weeks after having lost the Breeders' Cup Classic by a little more than a neck.

Kentucky Derby winners! Photo: Reed Palmer

Make no mistake about it, he was in as tough a race as you will ever see that day, and lost nothing in defeat. His good second to Shared Belief in the San Antonio Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita in February showed that he has retained all his ability. It was California Chrome's first start of the year, and he needed the race. His trainer Art Sherman had circled another date on his calendar as peak fitness time, namely March 28.


Bred by by his owners, out of a cheap mare, 'Chrome' is immensely popular with Stateside racing fans. He is flashy, he is tough, and he represents the American dream. And he is durable too. Not many horse can go through the Triple Crown Series and still do well in the autumn. This is what sets California Chrome apart from so many before him. He won the Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs and Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico, and he finish a good fourth in the Belmont Stakes (G1), when he picked up a hoof injury. He was given a break after these three tests, which come within the space of five weeks, and the chosen come-back race was the Philadelphia Derby (G2). Chrome was a bit ring rusty though, and a compromising inside trip didn't help. Bayern led all the way for an easy win, while California Chrome only managed sixth place.


It was easy to conclude that Chrome had seen enough racing for one season, that he was simply a tired horse in need of a longer vacations to recharge his batteries. His trainer knew otherwise. He set about preparing the colt for the Classic – undoubtedly a wise move. But for Bayern's fresh legs and affinity for the speed favouring track, and Toast Of New York's incredible grit, California Chrome would have completed the Kentucky Derby / Breeders' Cup Classic double. A double only one horse has completed, Unbridled back in 1990. Can California Chrome strike back, and win the 2015 Dubai World Cup? Of course he can.

SHEEMA CLASSIC

DESIGNS ON ROME IN FOCUS

An important prep race for big events at Meydan on World Cup night took place at Sha Tin in Hong Kong on March 1, as Designs On Rome maintained his great momentum by winning the Hong Kong Gold (G1) with another authoritative display. As always finishing fast from well out the back, he beat the 2013 UAE Derby (G2) winner Helene Super Star (ex-Lines Of Battle) easily by 1 ¼ lengths to book his ticket to Meydan, where he goes for the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1). He won the Centenary Vase Handicap (G3) under top weight three weeks earlier, and the Hong Kong Gold Cup was Designs On Rome's eighth win from 17 career outings.

One of the top performers at Sha Tin, the John Moore trained Designs On Rome, a five-year-old gelding with three Group One wins to his name, looks a strong contender for the 'Sheema'. His ideal distance is 2000 metres, but Designs On Rome normally finishes his races off very strongly and stretching out to 2400 metres could actually be to his advantage. He came from a long way off the pace also when winning the Hong Kong Cup (G1) at Sha Tin in December, a race he took by a head from Military Attack – (another interestung horse, nominated to both the Sheema and the Dubai Turf). The two Hong Kong stars finished a length in front of the third placed Australian raider Criterion, who was half a length better than Cirrus des Aigles, a Frenchman racing fans know well in Dubai. 'Cirrus' was not at his absolute best at Sha Tin, but the form still looks quite solid.


While Designs On Rome had won the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1) last April (again with Military Attack a close second), Military Attack was coming off an excellent run to be second in the Jockey Club Cup (G2) over the same course and distance, and Criterion was one of the better performers in Australia last year, with a narrow defeat against Fawkner in the prestigious Caulfield Cup (G1) as his high point. Designs On Rome, who was second to Dawn Approach in an Irish Group One as a juvenile, has never been better than in recent months, and he must be respected in this valuable turf contest.

DUBAI WORLD CUP

LEA IN FOCUS

Trained by Bill 'Cigar' Mott, Lea went down by just under a length when second to Constitution in the Donn Handicap (G1) at Gulfstream Park in February, a race that has produced earlier World Cup winners Cigar (1996), Captain Steve (2001), and after that race his connections say 'probably not' regarding a trip to Meydan. They had a rethink, however, no doubt as a result of the defections of Bayern, Toast Of New York and Constitution, and decided to go for the Dubai World Cup (G1) after all.

Lea winning the 2014 Donn. Photo: Coglianese


It makes perfect sense, as this runner will be well suited to the distance of the big race, and he is the most likely threat to California Chrome on form. Lea has not been in the headlines like California Chrome, but he has been in the headlines. This is a very smart horse. He won the 2014 edition of the Donn Handicap, setting a new track record in the process, but missed the rest of the season due to various little issues making it hard top train him properly. He has come back in fine shape this winter. Lea's versatility counts for a lot. A six-year-old son of First Samurai, he has also won a stakes races at Churchill Downs and run well at Saratoga, and he has twice been placed behind the mighty Wise Dan, US Horse of The Year 2013. Bill Mott won the first Dubai World Cup with Cigar. His contender this time is not in the same class as that champion but Lea is tough, experienced and adaptable. He will make his presence felt.

DUBAI WORLD CUP

HOKKO TARUMAE

He finished last in the Dubai World Cup twelve months ago, but anyone judging Hokko Tarumae purely on that effort is making a mistake. This Japanese contender is way better than what he was able to show on his first visit to Meydan. One of the top dirt track performers in Japan, he is the winner of three international Group One events in his homeland, and he ran an sound race on his most recent start, convincing his connections to have a second crack at the World Cup.


Hokko Tarumae won the Kawasaki Kinen (Local G1) over 2100 metres over a muddy track in late January, thus becoming back-to-back winner of this valuable event. As always ridden by Hidyaki Miyuki, he justified heavy favouritism to beat Kazenoko easily by three parts of a length. Hokko Tarumae was by far the best horse going into the race, and fully expected to succeed. The winning margin did not reflect his superiority on the day. His finest hour of 2014 came when he beat 15 rivals in the Champions Cup (G1), formerly called the Japan Cup Dirt, at Chukyo in December. Hokko Tarumae had finished third in the corresponding race both in 2012 and 2013, and it was a case of third time lucky as he defeated Namura Victor and Roman Legend to finally get to the top of the podium. Hokko Tarumae raced prominently from the outset, went ahead 400 metres from the winning post, and prevailed by half a length in a tough finish to the 1800-metres contest.


It was a very taking performance but Hokko Taramue was even more impressive when winning the Tokyo Daishoten by 4 lengths three weeks later. The trip was 2000 metres, the Ohi racecourse was muddy, and Hokko Taramue was in top form. He was positioned in the first three throughout, went smoothly to the lead coming into the 400-metres stretch and won unchallenged. The further he went the better he looked and he won with a bit in hand. His runner-up, Copano Rickey, has advertised the form by winning both of his subsequent races, most recently landing a the important February Stakes (G1) at Chukyo in February. It is also worth noting that Summit Stone, who was third to Hokko Tarumae in the Tokyo Daishoten, filled the same place also when he won the Kawasaki Kinen. His form is hard to assess but it has been working out well, and Hokko Tarumae is a bit of a dark horse in this World Cup field.

GOLDEN SHAHEEN

SECRET CIRCLE IN FOCUS

Golden Shaheen favourite Secret Circle, conditioned by two-time World Cup winning trainer Bob Baffert (photo), is a versatile performer. He is one of the best sprinters in North America, and close to the best milers too. Secret Circle won the Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) at Santa Anita in California in 2013, and ran second in the same event last year, before being runner-up also in the Cigar Mile (G1) at Aqueduct in New York.


He looks like being Baffert's only runner on World Cup night, and the six-year-old son of Eddington has a good chance of cashing in at Meydan. His career best is his Breeders' Cup win a year and a half ago, when he beat Laugh Track by a neck after delivering a strong finish. His form was not quite the same last term but he wasn't beaten more than half a length by Work All Week when going for back-to-back wins in America's best sprint, and was compromised by the way the track played when second to Private Zone at Aqueduct. Private Zone benefited from a speed favouring surface and made all for a 5-length win, while Secret Circle was second, a neck in front of Bourbon Courage. Secret Circle's most recent start was a game second to rising sprint star Conquest Two Step in the Palos Verdes Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita on New Year's eve. He has won seven of his 15 races, finished second six times and third once. Almost 93% in the top three. That's what we call consistency.

UAE DERBY

SIR FEVER IN FOCUS

This is an interesting new face, imported from Uruguay, where he was an outstanding champion last year. Invasor, who won the Dubai World Cup (G1) in 2007, also began his career in Uruguay – and was also a national star over there. Interestingly, Invasor was not in the top flight here in his first season, managing only fourth place behind Discreet Cat in the UAE Derby. He blossomed in the USA though, and came back to take the World Cup from Premium Tap twelve months later. Sir Fever seems to be in the same mould. He won all of his ten races in his homeland, inspiring a huge fan base at Maronas Racecourse in Montevideo.


Trained by Jorge A. Piritz, he produced his career best on the final start of his campaign, when beating Fletcher by over five lengths in the Gran Premio Nacional (G1), staged over 2500 metres (VIDEO ABOVE). Fletcher was coming off a fine win in a Group 3 event at the same venue but he had no chance against Sir Fever, who led throughout and drew right off under a hand ride to win with ease. He had won the Gran Premio Jockey Club (G1) over 2000 metres a month earlier, cruising home by four lengths, and had also landed the Gran Premio Polla de Potrillos, a top a level event over 1600 metres. These three races, also won by Invasor ten years ago, form the Uruguayan Triple Crown. Sir Fever has won races from 1000 to 2500 metres. He met with defeat for the first time in the Al Bastakiya over 1900 metres on Super Saturday, when Mubtaahij beat him readily. Sir Fever looked a bit one paced, and perhaps he needs further to show his best.

DUBAI GOLD CUP

BROWN PANTHER IN FOCUS

Part-owned by international footballer Michael Owen, Brown Panther will be looking to find the net at the end of the Dubai Gold Cup (G2) on World Cup night – and he will be one of the favourites for the marathon contest. Running long is nothing new to this son of Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) winner Shirocco. He was one of the best stayers in Europe last year, when he was an easy winner of the Henry II Stakes (G3) at Sandown Park in early summer, and stepped up produce the performance of his life to win the Irish St. Leger (G1) over 1 ¾ miles at The Curragh in September.


Brown Panther looked very strong at Sandown, where he beat High Jinx by 3 ½ lengths over 2 miles, and in Ireland he looked really classy, storming home by 6 ½ lengths from the heavy favourite Leading Light, who had won the St. Leger (G1) in England in 2013. Incidentally, Godolphin's 2012 St. Leger (G1) winner Encke finished third. Another Godolphin stayer came home in fourth place, namely Willing Foe, who went on to run fifth in the Melbourne Cup (G1) at Flemington in Australia on his next start. This form looked rock solid. Brown Panther's connections made the bold decision to step him up in class, and down in distance, in the autumn. A trip to the Canadian International (G1) in Toronto ended in frustration, however, as Brown Panther bolted before the race and had to be withdrawn. His behaviour was somewhat out of character. An even tougher assignment awaited him at Santa Anita Park in November, when he went for the Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) over 1 ½ miles.


The opposition was stiff, and the ground firm, something that counted against Brown Panther. He beat only one home but ran respectably enough, passing the winning post a little under six lengths behind the winner, Main Sequence (Sheema Classic contender). Brown Panther has won four races over a mile and a half, but those wins came when he was a younger horse. Further suits him better these days. He is, however, one of those rare stayers who possess a fair amount of speed, and he must have a good chance in the Gold Cup.

DUBAI GOLDEN SHAHEEN

SALUTOS AMIGOS IN FOCUS

This New York based sprinter must be one of the big favourites for the Golden Shaheen. He won impressively at Aqueduct on March 7, taking his fourth straight win and his ninth overall, and he has solid form in top company. Trained by David Jacobsen, a horseman who is showing a 24% strike rate and is boasting an even better record in stakes races, Salutos Amigos won the Tom Fool Handicap (G3) over 6 furlongs (1200 metres) with a strong performance. He had missed some training leading up to the event, and he was burdened with top weight, but overcame these circumstances without breaking too much sweat. After racing with great zest in third spot until turning for home, he went smoothly past the second favourite Dads Caps at the finish and beat him by 4 lengths. Jockey Cornelious Velasquez never had to resort to the whip to get his mount into top flight. Salutos Amigos won with plenty in hand, stopping the clocks in 1.09.6, a good time when it comes to winter racing around this track.

All of his four recent wins have come at Aqueduct, though a win in the Bold Ruler Handicap (G3) at Belmont Park, and a fine race in defeat in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) at Santa Anita, shows that he handles various tracks. His win streak started three weeks after he had finished seventh, beaten just 3 lengths, to Work All Week at the Breeders' Cup last November. Salutos Amigos came back home to carry a massive top weight to victory in the Fall Highweight Handicap (G3) – beating Mewannarose by almost two lengths while carrying nine pounds more than the runner-up. Mewannarose was second again when Salutos Amigos followed up in the Gravesend Stakes during the Christmas racing at Aqueduct, and Dads Caps was second best as he took the Toboggan Stakes (G3) in January. Salutos Amigos has thus been beating mainly the same rivals when enjoying such a fine winter in the Big Apple, but make no mistake about it, this is a highly efficient and classy sprinter. He comes to Dubai right at the top of his form.

DUBAI WORLD CUP

EPIPHANEIA IN FOCUS

Japan Cup (G1) winner Epiphaneia's name was on the list of three races when nominations to the big raceday were taken in January. Having won a championship event over 2400 metres on turf in Tokyo, it was no surprise to see that he had been nominated to the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) but, with $10 million in the pot, it was also understandable that his connections decided nominate him also to the Dubai World Cup (G1), a returning to dirt this year. Epiphaneia has never raced on dirt. In addition, to keep all doors open, they also added him to the list of possible runners in the Dubai Turf (G1) – a task that would mean radical drop in distance for this classy son of Symboli Kris S. One thing is certain, we will be seeing this horse at Meydan on March 28. But in which race? His trainer Katsuhiko Sumii has stated a preference for the Sheema Classic, the natural target, and also said that as they had no similar contest for Epiphaneia in Japan at this time of the year. Epiphaneia will come fresh to Meydan, without a prep run under his belt. Such an approach has worked well for several horses coming to World Cup night over the years, and the fact that he has not raced since December is no disadvantage. Epiphaneia, who was last seen running fifth to last year's “Sheema” winner Gentildonna in the Arima Kinen (G1), came up with one of the best performances of the season when taking the Japan Cup (G1) back in December.


True, rainy days in Tokyo that week ensured he got some give in the ground, something he likes, but he probably would have won also on a firm course that day. Jockey Christophe Soumillon was full of praise for his partner, after having won by 4 lengths from Just A Way, who was racing of further than what is ideal for him. Spielberg, who was coming off a win over Gentildonna in the Tenno Sho Autumn (G1) for weeks earlier, took third place, again passing the winning post jut in front of Gentildonna. With another homebred, the three-year-old filly Harp Star, in fifth the 2014 Japan Cup was a great result for Japanese racing and breeding, We need no reminding of how good the Japanese thoroughbreds are. Just A Way earned the highest rating in the official World Rankings last year, with Epiphaneia second best, and those who witnessed the Dubai World Cup (G1) in 2011 will perhaps recognise the name of Epiphaneia's trainer. That's right, Katsukiho Sumii is the man who saddled Victoire Pisa out for an upset win that year. Victiore Pisa had also taken part in the Japan Cup and Arima Kinen, finishing third in the Cup and winning the Kinen – giving him a similar profile.


Epiphaneia has a top class pedigree. His sire, Symoli Kris S, a US bred son of Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) winner Kris S, won both the Arima Kinen (G1) and Tenno Sho Autumn (G1) twice. Epiphaneia's dam Cesario made her mark on the international stage when winning the American Oaks (G1) at Hollywood Park in California almost ten years ago. Her sire was none other than Special Week, a Sunday Silence son who captured the Japanese Derby (G1) at three and completed the unique the Tenno Sho Spring / Tenno Sho Autumn / Japan Cup (G1) treble at four.

UPDATE MARCH 16 - EPIPHANEIA SWITCHING TO THE DUBAI WORLD CUP

DUBAI TURF

MSHAWISH IN FOCUS

Winner of the Zabeel Mile (G2) at Meydan last year, when he was trained by Frenchman Mikael Delzangles, Mshawish is now in the care of Todd Pletcher in Florida, where he has produced two nice winning performances this winter. His target on Dubai World Cup night is the Dubai Turf (G1), a race Mshawish finished fourth in last year. That was a good effort, though not quite his best form, as the son of Medaglia d'Oro was beaten by Just A Way, Vercingetorix and Dank. A month earlier, he had run out an easy two-length winner of the Zabeel, beating Trade Storm in really good style. He wasn't able to show similar form in his first few races in North America – but has returned to his best this year, taking two of the best turf events at the high profile Gulfstream Park meeting. Mshawish resumed winning ways in the Ft. Lauderdale Stakes (G2) in January, keeping Grand Tito a safe neck behind him past the winning post. This was an ideal prep run for the 9-furlong Gulfstream Park Turf handicap (G1) in February, a race that has been won by stars like Royal Anthem, Hard Buck and Point of Entry in the past. He went to post as a clear favourite, and did come back as the winner – but only just, as a seriously troublesome trip nearly cost him the race. Mshawish was boxed in by the rail at the finish, seemingly with no chance of getting a clear run. Luckily, an opening emerged just in the nick of time, and Mshawish quickened right through it for a well deserved success. He beat Slumber by no more than a nose, and was value for a fair bit more. War Correspondent was third, ahead of Manchurian High and Grand Tito. Mshawish, who was winning for a sixth time from 16 runs, was quite impressive in the Gulfstream Park Turf.


This five-year-old has found back to his best form, no doubt about that, and he looks a serious threat.

DUBAI TURF

THE GREY GATSBY IN FOCUS

The Grey Gatsby is a colt all racing fans should make sure they get to see up close when he comes into the paddock at Meydan on World Cup. This son of Mastercraftsman really is an imposing individual. And he has form to go with his good looks, having captured two Group One events in Europe last year. Lowering Derby winner Australia's colours in the Irish Champion Stakes (G1) at Leopardstown was the high point of The Grey Gatsby's three-year-old campaign, and there should me more to come. He is just the type to improve with age.


The Grey Gatsby won a York maiden and finished second two G2 events in his first season. His second began with a promising runner-up effort behind Toormore in the Craven Stakes (G3) at Newmarket. Neither managed to land a blow in the 2,000 Guineas (G1), but The Grey Gatsby's future was to lie over further than a mile. He showed much better form when stepped up to 10.5 furlongs in the Dante Stakes (G2) back at York less than two weeks after the Guineas, a race he won from Arod, with Godolphin's True Story third. It was a tasty classic prep, but not used as a stepping stone to Epsom. Trainer Kevin Ryan wasn't keen on a mile and a half and instead sent the colt to Chantilly, where The Grey Gatsby followed up with a clear cut win in the French Derby, called the Prix du Jockey-Club (G1). Like the Dante this classic is contested over an extended ten-furlong trip. The Grey Gatsby sneaked up the inside from a position in midfield, and ran out a convincing 3-length winner from Shamkiyr. A return to France on Bastille Day was not so successful, as the very soft ground anchored Ryan's star in the 2400-metres Grand Prix de Paris (G1). He lost not an ounce of his enthusiasm though, and came back to form with a game second to Australia in the Juddmonte International (G1) at York in August. Just over three weeks later these two clashed again in the Irish Champion Stakes (G1), and The Grey Gatsby exacted his revenge. He was held up for a late run, and closed relentlessly into what had been a brisk early pace. Australia was caught in the closing stages and beaten a neck. The Grey Gatsby did not run again in 2014, meaning that he will be coming off a lengthy break when he runs at Meydan, where he has two options; the Dubai Turf (G1) over 1800 metres or the Sheema Classic (G1) over 2400 metres. Whichever race he goes for he will be amongst the favourites.


UPDATE MARCH 18 - THE GREY GATSBY GOES FOR THE DUBAI TURF

KAHAYLA CLASSIC

THAKIF IN FOCUS

Thakif secured his berth in the Kahayla Classic (G1) when narrowly winning the HH The Presidents Cup (G1) at Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club in February. Nicely ridden by Harry Bentley, one of the rising young stars in the jockeys' ranks, Thakif pipped Abu Alabyad by a nose in an exciting finish. Two high class runners both showing a great will to win treated the crowds to some race, as they reached the winning post 3 ½ lengths in

front of the third placed Shayel Aldhabi. All three horses were nominated to the opening race on World Cup night. Thakif, who was winning for the third time on the spin, may be the strongest of the three again, but there was precious little in it at Abu Dhabi, and Abu Alabyad certainly has a chance of revenge if he runs in the Kahayla. While Thakif raced up in the firing line all the way, Abu Alabyad was finishing well from the back. The Presidents Cup is run over 2,200 metres on turf, but today's task, 2,000 metres around Meydan's dirt oval, may present just a stiff a test of stamina. Thakif is owned by UAE Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is also Minister of Presidential Affairs.

DUBAI GOLD CUP

ALMOONQITH IN FOCUS

Almoonqith, an ex-French five-year-old with four wins from just 13 career outings, served up quite a surprise when winning the Nad Al Sheba Trophy (G3) here at Meydan a month before World Cup night. He had nice performances in the book going into the race, but nothing like his performance in the valuable staying race, which he won by coming from off the pace to take command well before the last 200 metres pole. Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum's chief pilot Paul Hanagan, who enjoyed great day with four winners, produced his mount to perfection. Almoonqith was well on top at the business end of the race and won by 1 ½ lengths from Rio Tigre, with the evergreen stayer Star Empire third, Havana Beat fourth and Meandre fifth. The Nad Al Sheba was contested over 2800 metres, and the step up to 3200 metres in the Gold Cup poses another, quite new, challenge to Almoonqith – but it could actually suit him even better. The way he passed horses, and stayed on at the finish, suggested that he would have beaten them by a wider margin over further. He is a US bred son of the late Dynaformer, a stallion who often passed on stamina to his progeny, out of the mare Bohemian Lady. She is a daughter of the sprinter Carson City, but was herself stakes placed over an extended mile. Furthermore, Bohemian Lady is a half-sister to Any Given Saturday, a Grade One winner over 9 furlongs on dirt in the USA, where such a trip requires at least some stamina.

SHEEMA CLASSIC

FLINTSHIRE IN FOCUS

Flintshire was a Group One winner in France as a three-year-old and in Hong Kong last year, but he has often been a bit of a 'nearly horse'. Runner-up efforts in three championship events, in three different countries last year confirms what a good horse he is, and Flintshire certainly deserved it when landing the Hong Kong Vase (G1) at Sha Tin in December.


He had run second to Cirrus des Aigles in the Coronation Cup (G1) at Epsom Downs in England in June, played the same role behind Treve in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1) at Longchamp at home in France in October, and again behind Main Sequence in the Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) at Santa Anita Park in California in November. It was a demanding campaign, but trainer Andre Fabre, arguably one of the world's finest horsemen, gave Flintshire a bit of a break after the 'Arc' and brought him fresh to Sha Tin, where he won decisively by half a length from the locally trained Willie Cazals. All these races were run over 2400 metres, the distance of the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1), where Flintshire is expected to be one of the leading players. Passing the winning post two 2 behind of the likes of Treve and Cirrus des Aigles is something not many turf runners are capable of, and the Sheema looks a good opportunity for Flintshire. It also presents him with a chance of revenge on Main Sequence, who beat him by half a length at the Breeders' Cup. Flintshire was a close second to Dolniya when reappearing over 1900 metres at Chantilly on March 3. He is an unusually reliable runner, who has finished in the top two in 10 of his 13 races to date.

GODOLPHIN MILE

SURFER IN FOCUS

Zabeel Racing International's tough and battle hardened Surfer appears likely to revert to a shorter trip, after his fourth place finish in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round Two (G2) on February 5, and take aim at the Godolphin Mile (G1) on World Cup night. He can run 2000 metres pretty efficiently, no doubt about that, but Surfer is a good step sharper over 1600 and he would be one of the best local hopes in the 'Godolphin'. Bred by Darley, Surfer has had an excellent career, and he is still going strong at the age of six. He gained his fifth win from 21 runs when winning the Al Maktoum Challenge Round One (G2) in January. Surfer had already had a run at Meydan before the Carnival started, winning the Dubai Creek Mile (LR) in December, and he looked really well in himself in the preliminaries to the first round of the Al Maktoum Series. He raced prominently with great zest throughout, took command early in the straight and ran out quite a comfortable winner, 2 ¼ lengths in front of the French import Frankyfourfingers, with Haatheq third. Surfer was pricking his ears passing the winning post and had something to spare.

Logically, he was the most fancied as these three met again in the second round, run over 1900 metres a month later. The field was lot deeper though, with last year's Dubai World Cup (G1) winner African Story and his stable companion Prince Bishop at the forefront. Prince Bishop, who had beaten Surfer by 2 lengths into third place in last year's Al Maktoum Challenge Round Three (G1), did best of the two favourites – though was beaten a head. Surprisingly by Frankyfourfingers, who led from gate to wire under a fine Mickael Barzalona ride. Surfer tracked him around the new dirt course he clearly enjoys but tired a bit in the home straight and had to settle for fourth, 1 ½ lengths behind Frankyfourfingers. Haatheq was one place behind Surfer, confirming that the first round was a decent race indeed.


Surfer began his career with Godolphin in England as a juvenile, when he failed to win in five attempts. Interestingly, his last start that season was a fifth over 1800 metres at Newmarket, behind a talented young colt named Main Sequence. Name rings a bell? Yes, that's right, Main Sequence won last year's Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) and is a leading contender for the Sheema Classic (G1). The two runners went separate ways after the Newmarket race. Main Sequence via a runner-up effort in the Epsom Derby (G1) to a highly successful career in the USA, while Surfer moved to Dubai – and also started winning nice races. All of his five wins have come at Meydan, when racing on the old Tapeta and on the new dirt track. Four wins have been gained over 1600 metres, and the fifth over 1400 metres. Again, he does stay further, but Surfer is a typical miler.

GODOLPHIN MILE

GRAPHIC IN FOCUS

Trained by William Haggas, who came close to lifting the World Cup with Mukhadram twelve months ago, Graphic booked his ticket to the Godolphin Mile (G2) when going to the winners' circle at Wolverhampton in England last month.


This tough and streetwise six-year-old was winning for a ninth time from 31 career outings as he got home a length in front of Diescentric with subsequent winner Chookie Royal back in third place. Graphic was racing just behind the early leader early on, took command with less a furlong to go, and kept on for a game win. The distance was 8.5 furlongs, a bit further than the Godolphin Mile, but possessing a bit of stamina is never a bad thing in this contest. Graphic has good form over a mile, having gained five of his wins over this distance, most notably the Prix Messidor (G3) at Maisons-Laffitte outside Paris last summer. Frankie Dettori rode him on this occasion, and sent him straight to the lead from the outset. Pilot, who has run some fine races in defeat at this Carnival, finished second and Line Drummer, who had won over the same course on his previous start, was third. Graphic put up another good performance in November, when finishing third behind Sloane Avenue and the well known filly Cladocera at Kempton Park. He tried to make all once more and went down fighting, passing the winning post only three parts of a length behind the winner. Graphic is a versatile runner with form over a variety of tracks, and he could well play a leading role in this event.

AL QUOZ SPRINT

AMBER SKY AND PENIAPHOBIA IN FOCUS

Last year's winner of the Al Quoz Sprint, Amber Sky is a horse the connections of every other contender will fear, although he is not coming off a perfect prep run at home this time. Twelve months ago the six-year-old son of Australian sprint ace Exceed And Excel used a win in the Centenary Sprint Cup (G1) at Sha Tin as a stepping stone to the Al Quoz Sprint, which he won by a neck from Ahtoug. He went to post for the Centenary Cup also this winter, but performed way below expectations and came home last, some ten lengths behind Peniaphobia, who he is set to meet again at Meydan.

Now, there are preps and there are preps. The Centenary is run two months before World Cup night, and it's result will not always have such a bearing on the Al Quoz. A lot can happen with a horse in the space of two months. Trainer Ricky Yiu probably wouldn't have sent Amber Sky to Dubai unless the gelding has been sending out the right signals in his morning workouts. Amber Sky is a high class sprinter when on song. Furthermore, he must be particularly hungry for revenge against Peniaphobia, since that rival beat him also in the Jockey Club Sprint (G2) at Sha Tin last November. That win set Peniaphobia up for a good second in the Hong Kong Sprint (G1) in December, a race Amber Sky sat out. These Hong Kong sprinters are really sharp, and will be amongst the favourites here.

GOLDEN SHAHEEN

RICH TAPESTRY IN FOCUS

Rich Tapestry was second to Sterling City in the Golden Shaheen last year, having beaten Reynaldothewizard to win the traditional prep race on Super Saturday three weeks prior. Such form makes him an interesting contender this time also of course, but anyone who liked the look of this Hong Kong based sprinter twelve months ago have even more to like these days – as he showed even better form in California last autumn. A big, powerful and imposing son of Holy Roman Emperor, Rich Tapestry beat one of the best horses in the US when capturing the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1). Not just that, he had one of today's rivals back in third place. He was favoured by the weights and may have been a bit lucky as he beat top dirt miler Goldencents by a nose, but note that Secret Circle was beaten 1 ¾ lengths by these two. Based on this run Rich Tapestry, who is built very much like a dirt track performer, became one of the favourites for the Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) in November – but he failed to show his form on the big day and came home in last place. Something was clearly amiss, and his jockey eased him at the finish. Secret Circle finished second. Rich Tapestry's best form has come over 6 furlongs, he is one of the top rated runners in this field, he comes here after a long break and that was also the case when he beat Goldencents. He must have a big chance at Meydan.

AL QUOZ SPRINT

SIR MAXIMILIAN IN FOCUS

The Meydan Sprint winner Sir Maximilian may be a six-year-old with a profile making him look rather exposed, but his win on Super Saturday indicated that he is on the upgrade these days. He came with a storming run from behind, found his way between horses, and got up to pip Ahtoug and Caspar Netscher in a triple photo finish. Sir Maximilian, who won two Listed class sprints in Ireland last year, had run fifth in a competitive handicap over the same 1000-metres trip seven days earlier, when passing the post just under three lengths behind Ertijaal – another very interesting turf sprinter who is on the up the ladder these days. There isn't much between these turf sprinters, and luck in running is bound to matter. The Al Quoz Sprint has been won by some seriously good speed merchants over the years, and from time to time we have seen a dominant performance. That may not be the case this time, as the top half dozen going for the race are very closely matched.