What are the best bets at Meydan on Saturday?
Saturday’s Dubai World Cup at Meydan (due off 5.00pm) is the world’s richest race and is the latest chapter in the rags-to-riches story of the remarkable CALIFORNIA CHROME.
Bred on a shoe-string budget, he has now won 11 of his 20 starts under Rules and they include a couple of North American Triple Crown races, the 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. The five-year-old is just about the biggest name the organisers could have wished to attract and they will be keen to see him make amends for what looked an unlucky defeat in last year’s race and restore some respectability to what is the main event of their Dubai Carnival.
Sent off the 5/4 favourite 12 months ago, his jockey Victor Espinoza got the race tactics badly wrong by chasing a too strong pace and covering more ground than any of his rivals, leaving 14/1 shot Prince Bishop to pick up the pieces late on. The winner was promptly whisked off to stud and California Chrome was kept off the track for nearly 10 months, making a winning return to action at Santa Anita and then following up in a handicap over track and trip last month.
Connections seem convinced he’s better than ever (no reason to doubt them) and having had some local match practice, he is again the one they all have to best and it’ll be disappointing if he can’t end the drought of favourites going back to Curlin eight years ago – Sky Bet are one of three firms offering a top price of 7/4 on that happening.
A wide draw in stall 11 of 12 is not ideal – he was the 11th of 12 names to emerge in the draw ceremony, leaving his trainer Art Sherman with the choice of only the two widest stalls – but he’s in a different league to all bar one of his rivals and has the tactical speed to cope.
His compatriot Frosted looks the most likely runner-up as he had some solid Grade 1 form in the US last year and, like the favourite, he proved he handles Meydan with a cosy handicap success last time, lowering the course record over a trip just shy of 1m2f. Mubtaahij may not have been suited by the steady pace of the third round of the Maktoum Challenge last time and he can improve to take third, making him the each-way bet of the race at BetVictor’s 16/1 (1/5 odds, 1.2.3).
There’s plenty of decent action elsewhere on the card and William Haggas’ MUTHMIR is a shade of value at BetVictor’s 8/1 in the 5f Al Quoz Sprint (2.10pm). He would have needed the run when third in his Lingfield prep and will be suited by the fast and furious pace, though the locally-trained Ertijaal is greatly feared after a couple of smart handicap wins over course and distance.
The Dubai Sheema Classic (4.20pm) looks the classiest turf race on the card and King George winner POSTPONED looks a worthy favourite at Betfred’s 13/8. Formerly trained by Luca Cumani, he impressed when cruising to a three-length success in the Dubai City Of Gold run over track and trip, his first start for Roger Varian, and he is likely to improve for that outing to become the sixth European-based winner of this race in seven years.
The Americans have made the Dubai Golden Shaheen (2.45pm) their own, winning nine of the last 10 runnings, and they can maintain that healthy strike rate with X Y JET, a best-priced 15/8 with Paddy Power. It’s tempting to go with Varian’s Intilaaq in the Dubai Turf (3.45pm) as he has the potential to be a monster this year, but on his first appearance since winning a Group 3 at Haydock last August he will do well to cope with Charlie Appleby’s race-fit TRYSTER, who looks better than ever at the age of five.