Angus McNae
Angus McNae's Racing UK Blog
Thursday 13th February 2014
Racing UK
Dubai Simply Must Get Mucho Macho Man

The Dubai World Cup nominations this week make for fascinating reading. The World Cup itself has lacked real star quality since it's departure from Nad Al Sheba, but last year took a step in the right direction with the facile success of Animal Kingdom. The authorities in Dubai will be anxious to maintain the momentum that was gained last year and thus I am sure they will be pulling out all the stops to persuade Mucho Macho Man to make the journey to Dubai.

This horse is an equine superstar in America and would more than likely be ridden by one of the best jockeys we have ever seen in Gary Stevens. That would be a potent mix for the marketing gurus in Dubai - it was last year when he rode on World Cup night. In order to secure such a coup they will have to persuade connections to swerve the Big 'Cap (the prestigious Santa Anita handicap).

As ever the lure of a massive pot gives Dubai a head start in their battle over Santa Anita, but the Big 'Cap is a big deal in America - it means everything to horsemen Stateside and it is run at a track where Mucho Macho Man has excelled before. There are also surface considerations for connections to take into account. Dirt is the surface, whereas Tapeta is the existing surface in Dubai and not all dirt horses are suited to the rhythm of racing on synthetic.

Of course we all want him to run in Dubai, but they will only come if they think they will win and if you could snaffle a non runner no bet on him for the big race it really would be time to get involved. One thing must be noted and that is that connections believe it would be asking too much for him to take in both races.

We saw some really good action last week, not least the performance of Ihtimal in the UAE 1000 Guineas. This filly was really impressive in her first run on synthetic surfaces and the turn of foot she showed was instant and electric.

She is good on turf as well, as her third in the Fillies' Mile to the ill-fated Chriselliam showed in the autumn at Newmarket. I would love to see her stick to racing on Tapeta and maybe a career in America would really suit her, but I am sure she will have the English 1,000 Guineas on the agenda, for which she is widely quoted at 16/1. I would not be interested in that price given the record of horses that go to Newmarket having raced in Dubai. The UAE Oaks will surely be on the agenda and she will be very hard to beat in that.

Overall I think that round two of the Maktoum Challenge was a little bit disappointing. The winner was Prince Bishop, who loves a synthetic surface and is best fresh. He did well to win and the Trakus figures show that he made a big move early enough in the race, but still found plenty to hold on from the fast-finishing African Story. The runner-up should be marked up a little as he met some trouble in-running, but we should not be deceived by his visually impressive finish. He was passing tired horses, having saved much of his petrol as the others were already on their reserve tanks. Clearly African Story retains plenty of his old ability, but maybe not as much as a first look at his performance might suggest. Did we see the Dubai World Cup winner in the race? Almost certainly not, and definitely not if Mucho Macho Man turns up.

This week it is time for the colts to take centre stage in the UAE 2,000 Guineas. Not everybody was convinced by the win of Emirates Flyer in the trial, but that race was run at a strong tempo and he showed a good attitude to win. In fact for me he was value for more than the winning margin. His one from one on a synthetic surface also leaves him open to some improvement back on the Tapeta. This race is more competitive than the fillies' equivalent last week, but this horse who is very straightforward will be tough to beat.

The other feature event on the card is the Al Shindagha Sprint and I believe that United Color can continue his upward progression. He won on his seasonal reappearance beating some useful types and if anything he hit the front too soon. This race looks sure to be strongly run and that will suit him from a good draw in stall three. It is just possible that he could have a live chance in the Dubai Golden Shaheen on World Cup night and if that is the case he has to win this. One outsider to bear in mind at a big price is Intransigent, who got a brutal trip last time out and was too keen. A better trip and some cover could see him outrun his price, but it has to be United Color for me.

Angus McNae's Thursday Meydan tips:

3.20 Meydan: Emirates Flyer at 12-1 with bet365

5.05 Meydan: United Color at 7-1 with bet365