Angus McNae
Angus McNae's Racing UK Blog
Saturday 21st March 2015

Racing UK

Weak field should result in a Chrome crown in Dubai

A week from now we will be closing in on the Dubai World Cup and I think we should do so with an ante-post voucher tucked neatly in our back pocket or somewhere on our computer. 

At the moment California Chrome can be backed at 15-8 to win the World Cup and Japanese raider Harp Star is available at 4-1 for the Dubai Sheema Classic.

I think there is every chance that they will be shorter on the day, and for that reason I think we should be backing them both individually and doubling them up.

Make no mistake, the World Cup this year needs California Chrome. Sheikh Mohammed's new field of dreams at Meydan in the form of a dirt strip was built so that the Americans would come and California Chrome is the headline act among a group of 16 shippers from the States

In a World Cup field that looks short on quality, to have a Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner in the race that is trading at odds against should make all punters prick up their ears.

Not only did he win both of those races in 2014, he was also narrowly beaten in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November. Unlike some of his opponents his dirt credentials are rock solid. He has tactical speed, which could see him dominate from the front, but as he showed when winning the Preakness he can also rate just behind the speed.

There is no way he will find himself in kickback behind horses as he has too much speed for that to happen and his rider Victor Espinoza is a salty veteran of many dirt wars in the past.

As important as his own credentials are, so is the lack of opposition. The second favorite is also from America in the form of Lea. He is a Gulfstream Park specialist, and should handle the track.

His 2013 Donn Handicap win makes him a legitimate contender. The local challenge is weak. African Story does not like dirt, even though he managed to find a way to win the third round of the Al Maktoum Challenge and Prince Bishop will get behind early before making late headway. Both have no natural aptitude for dirt racing.

The lack of opposition to California Chrome makes him a 4-5 shot, in my book, and we should be getting involved at 15-8 now.

The argument for Harp Star in the Sheema Classic is simple. First up she is a classy mare and secondly she will be ridden by Ryan Moore for the first time. She got a terrible trip in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in October, where she finished four and a half lengths behind Treve.

She would have been a lot closer with a better ride. Her regularly jockey, Yuga Kawada, has got a good tune out of this mare in the past, but now she has a world-class rider on board

I expect her to improve considerably for Moore's assistance.

The race is not that deep, although Flintshire from France, Main Sequence from the USA and Designs On Rome from Hong Kong, all have solid credentials. I think over the next few days there will be a gradual realization that 4-1 about Harp Star is far too big. I expect her to go off at about half that price on the night

I will be analysing the World Cup meeting in more depth next week.

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As far as Saturday is concerned I will be backing Rebel Rebellion in the 2.00 Newbury. This horse, trained by Paul Nicholls, has a solid look off top weight in this handicap.

A repeat of what he did when winning at Ascot in January will see him back in the winners’ enclosure. Since then he has finished a decent second at Exeter, and I believe he will continue the good Saturday record of the Nicholls team today.

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Angus McNae's Saturday tip:

2.00 Newbury: Rebel Rebellion

Angus McNae's Dubai World Cup night portfolio:

Dubai World Cup: California Chrome at 15-8

Dubai Sheema Classic: Harp Star at 4-1

Double on California Chrome and Harp Star.