Angus McNae
Angus McNae's Racing UK Blog
Saturday 28th March 2015
   

Racing UK

Americans can rule Dubai dirt once more!

Earlier in the week there was the growing belief that the dirt surface in Dubai is unique. Thankfully Bill Mott and Michael Chang, trainers of World Cup runner Lea and Golden Shaheen sprinter Rich Tapestry, both came out to pour cold water on those ideas. 

The thinking was that the dirt at Meydan was somehow different to other dirt surfaces in America and thus the raiders from the States will struggle in the Dubai World Cup!

Mott compared the dirt to that of Churchill Downs no less, and Chang likened it to Santa Anita, where Rich Tapestry won the Santa Anita Sprint Championship last year.

The track at Meydan is a dirt track that during the Dubai World Cup Carnival has ridden like one and has produced times commensurate with dirt racing. It has also seemed to suit horses with dirt based pedigrees. Accordingly the American raiders are going to be very well suited to it and I expect them to dominate the 2015 Dubai World Cup. 

It is true that dirt surfaces can be prepared in different ways. Some, such as those on the East Coast of America ride deeper than those on the West. The surface is still fundamentally a dirt one, however. This obsession with the surface casts a veil over the most important aspect that relates to the surfaces that horses race on, and that is tempo.

Dirt surfaces lend themselves to strongly-run contests, whereas synthetics and turf are more suited to cruise, and then quicken racing. Dirt racing is more attritional, tougher on the horse, and produces true champions.

At the Carnival this year the tempo of races has been a dirt tempo, and races have been strongly run.

Last week I suggested that we back California Chrome to win the Dubai World Cup at 15-8 and Harp Star at 4-1 to win the Dubai Sheema Classic, and nothing has happened this week to make me want to hedge those bets. In fact I am tempted to go in again, as far as California Chrome is concerned.

Tactical pace from a decent draw in stall nine, better form than his rivals and an ability to handle dirt, make him an odds-on shot in my book. He may well find himself in front going around the first turn, and thereafter it will be up to Victor Espinoza to get the fractions right. Espinoza is looking for his first Dubai World Cup winner with his seventh ride in the UAE, and he will never have a better opportunity. The race needs him to win, and I think he will, and will do so impressively. He can become the third horse since Silver Charm and Animal Kingdom to complete the Kentucky Derby World Cup double.

The Americans also look set to take the Dubai Golden Shaheen and we should embrace their challenge by betting exotically.

When the six-furlong Golden Shaheen was run at Nad Al Sheba the race was dominated by the Americans. That was because the best dirt sprinters in the world are American dirt sprinters, and now that Meydan Racecourse has switched from synthetic to dirt, there is every reason to envision another era of American dominance in this race.

They are triple-handed with Salutos Amigos, Big Macher and Secret Circle. Secret Circle will race prominently, Salutos Amigos is a closer and Big Macher has plenty of pace. In essence this three-pronged attack from the States will have a horse sat on the lead, one tracking and one coming from the back. Surely with big Beyer speed figures to their names these dirt sprinters should be combined in an exacta.

In four of the ten runnings of this race at Nad Al Sheba the Americans filled the first two places, and won seven of those races. It might be that straightforward.

I am compelled to tip Sole Power each-way in the Al Quoz Sprint after his comeback effort at the track, where Richard Hughes, to my eye, looked after him with this race in mind.

Clearly he is a horse who comes with his in-running heartaches for supporters, but his credentials here are solid.

For a start he has finished second and fourth in this race before, and a fast five furlongs on quick ground suits him ideally. He is reportedly full of himself, and rates as a decent each-way wager.

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The Flat season gets underway domestically on Saturday as well, with the Lincoln meeting at Doncaster. Mange All is all the rage for the big race from the William Haggas yard.

This horse is clearly well treated and the traditional curtain-raiser to the season has always been the obvious target. Nonetheless William Haggas has traditionally always been a man who finds good spots for his horses and he and his team have more than likely got this bang on. There has been some concern expressed about his draw, which may be away from the likely pace of the race and this will concern those with tasty big-price antepost vouchers.

Mange All could be far too good for this field and should be backed each-way.

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Angus McNae's Saturday tips:

5.00 Meydan: California Chrome at 13-8 with SkyBet and Betbright.

4.15 Meydan: Harp Star at 100-30 with Paddy Power.

3.05 Meydan: Combination exacta - Secret Circle / Big Macher / Sautos Amigos.

2.30 Meydan: Sole Power each-way at 8-1 with SkyBet.

3.45 Doncaster: Mange All 11-2 with Betbright and BetVictor.

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