Angus McNae
Angus McNae's Racing UK Blog
Saturday 29th March 2014
Racing UK
Have people forgotten the phrase, 'horses for courses' at Meydan?

The Dubai World Cup meeting is upon us and there is much being made of the international challengers for the big race - indeed they dominate the market.

I may have missed a trick or two, but is it not the case that this is a race run on a synthetic surface and all those who are at the front of the market are turf horses?

Of course horses who act on turf are also capable of acting on Tapeta, in fact they have far more chance of acting on this surface than they would have done on the dirt at Nad Al Sheba, but even so their ability to handle the surface has to be seriously in doubt and thus they are just not back able with any confidence.

The horses I refer to are Ruler Of The World, Akeed Mofeed and MIlitary Attack. Do not get me wrong these three horses are extremely talented. Their records stand up to the closest scrutiny. Their raw ability is not in doubt, but you are being asked to take relatively short prices about horses who lack a proven record on the surface.

In 2002 I was lucky enough to be in Dubai for the build up to the World Cup and at one media event I found myself in a minority of one when arguing with other journalists that the Godolphin-trained Street Cry, with proven form on the surface, would beat the better-fancied Godolphin runner Sakhee who had no form on the surface.

As much as I fought my corner I was consistently told that class will out. As it turned out class was shut out by an inability to handle conditions and Street Cry went on to win easily under Jerry Bailey.

I tell this tale not to make me feel good but to highlight that racing on synthetic surfaces is different to turf, not just because the surface itself is different but because the rhythm of racing is different and asking horses to adjust to a new surface and a new style of racing at the first time of asking is a big ask.

For that reason my selection for the Dubai World Cup has to be Prince Bishop, who should be backed each-way at the 10-1 that is available at the time of writing. He is well drawn in stall one. He has a proven record on Tapeta at Meydan and his last two wins there have been achieved in good times. In years gone by he has seemed to be best fresh, but he has now found consistency and it is my opinion that he should be half the price he is trading at.

The rest of the meeting is full of class and intriguing contenders. My strongest fancy outside Prince Bishop is Gentildonna in the Dubai Sheema Classic and she can go one better than last year when she was second to St Nicholas Abbey.

She has the added bonus of Ryan Moore on board this time around. Ryan has only been on board once and on that occasion last November he won the Japan Cup. She is a class act and 7-2 is a good price.

My third and final selection is an obvious one, but I could not believe he was not odds-on when I looked at the market. The race is the UAE Derby and the horse is Long John. He was hugely impressive on his debut for Godolphin, which was also his debut on a synthetic surface and he loved it. He had top-class form in Australia and now threatens to be even better on this surface. I cannot see why he is not trading shorter and I am not about to look this gift horse in the mouth.

My final thought about the World Cup meeting is related to a topic I wrote about during Cheltenham where I suggested that Sam Twiston-Davies really was under pressure in terms of his ride on Big Buck’s.  

As it happened his bottle was not tested as Big Buck’s was not good enough. In a similar vein surely William Buick is under immense pressure on The Fugue today in the Dubai Duty Free and she is likely to be good enough to get close enough to test his bottle. Will there be tears again or redemption? I leave the answer to you

The Dubai World Cup meeting is live on and it will be great to have you along for the ride. 


Angus McNae's Dubai World Cup tips:

6.05 Meydan: Prince Bishop at 12-1 with Ladbrokes

5.17 Meydan: Gentildonna at 5-1 with William Hill

2.25 Meydan: Long John at 85-40 with BetVictor