Ed Marnane: Dubai – Blue Point’s eagerly awaited comeback in the Meydan Sprint is the star attraction at Meydan on Thursday, the seventh night of the Dubai World Cup Carnival.
Trained by Charlie Appleby, Blue Point is contesting the Group 2 turf sprint showpiece for the second successive year and faces six rivals in the local trial for the $2-million Al Quoz Sprint on the Dubai World Cup undercard at the end of March.
Blue Point, winner of the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in June last year, should justify cramped odds and make amends for his narrow defeat by Ertijaal 12 months ago. He is the highest-rated runner in the field, has conditions stacked in his favour after escaping a Group 1 penalty for his big UK triumph and is fancied to see off Australian sprinter Faatinah, a two-time winner at Meydan.
Poetic Charm, impressive winner of the Cape Verdi, is a confident selection to follow up in the Balanchine Stakes, a race Godolphin captured with Promising Run 12 months ago.
Charlie Appleby’s filly created a big impression on her local debut, quickening smartly to run out a comfortable four-length winner from Asoof, with last year’s Balanchine runner-up Furia Cruzada back in third.
Poetic Charm is expected to confirm the form with the runner-up and third, who both renew rivalry, despite being slightly worse off at the weights. She can provide Appleby with his first success in the event, one of the few major prizes in the UAE to have eluded the Briton.
The Group 3 Firebreak Stakes is the most interesting race on the card. First run in 2009, the 1600m dirt event has become a key trial for the Godolphin Mile — former winners Skysurfers, Tamarkuz and Variety Club all landed the Firebreak en-route to glory on Dubai World Cup night.
Last year’s winner Heavy Metal joined that illustrious bunch, giving his trainer Sandeep Jadhav a dream start to his training career and providing rider Ryan Moore with his first Godolphin Mile. The seven-year-old has plenty to prove after showing little on his seasonal debut, when he trailed in a remote last of nine behind North America last month. But Heavy Metal was lame after the race, lost a shoe and was unable to adopt his customary front-running tactics having jumped awkwardly.
Champion trainer Doug Watson has been quiet recently and will be looking for a change of fortune with his two runners — Muntazah and Kimbear — and both hold sound claims, with preference for the last-named.
Winner of the Burj Nahaar over the same course and distance last season, Kimbear made a pleasing comeback behind Drafted before chasing home leading Dubai World Cup hopeful North America in Round I of the Al Maktoum Challenge. He is fancied to put up a bold show.
Muntazah was less than two lengths behind Kimbear last month on just his second appearance since returning from his summer break. That was an improved effort following a lacklustre performance at Abu Dhabi on his seasonal debut and, if taking another step forward, he merits respect. The highlight of his local career came under these conditions, when he was a creditable second to Heavy Metal in the Godolphin Mile.
Satish Seemar, chasing his second Firebreak in three years, saddles recent Jebel Ali Mile winner Secret Ambition and third-placegetter Behavioural Bias.
Jockey Richard Mullen understandably remains loyal to Secret Ambition, a prolific winner at Meydan. He showed a good attitude at Jebel Ali, finding plenty for pressure and rates a leading player.
The inaugural Meydan Trophy, Race 4, looks a good opportunity for Art Du Val, trained by Charlie Appleby for Godolphin. He impressed when scoring on his racecourse debut at Sandown in the UK and confirmed the promise when a creditable second to Duke Of Hazzard in Listed company in France – before being put away for the year. Art Du Val, who missed a recent engagement due to a poor scope, is likely to start a warm favourite.
Mark Johnston’s Victory Command can give Appleby’s colt most to do in a race in which very few hold decent claims. He should enjoy the switch to turf after finishing a remote third in the Al Bastakiya Trial on his local debut. The form of that race was given a timely boost seven days ago with Estihdaaf’s victory in the UAE 2000 Guineas.
Ed Marnane’s picks:
Best Bet: 9 Lavaspin (Race 6)
Best Value: 7 Red Galileo (Race 7)
Best Swinger: 4 Art Du Val and 2 Trolius (Race 4)
Jackpot (Races 4-7): 3,4 x 1,6 x 4,5,9 x 2,3,7 (R36)
To take a bet:
Go to www.tabonline.co.za or www.bettingworld.co.za