With Cheltenham still fresh in the memory and the Grand National meeting less than a week away, we’ll take our eyes off the jumps momentarily for our annual dip into the desert flat racing oasis of Meydan, Dubai, which hosts its classy World Cup card and features three turf Group Ones.
The first of those is the Al Quoz Sprint, probably the most international sprint in the racing calendar, typically attracting runners from Europe, Dubai, Hong Kong, Australia, America and Japan.
Royal Ascot winner Blue Point is the odds-on favourite and, despite trainer Charlie Appleby cleaning up at this meeting last year and the horse looking in imperious form over the Meydan Spring Carnival, that smacks of European bias towards the known quantities.
Every year I watch European trained sprinters get thumped in the big sprints in America, and it’s no secret that the Australians generally trump our sprinters too.
As such, with no big Australian this hope year, I’m looking no further than the two American raiders in this race who are both generously priced.
STORMY LIBERAL has won the last two Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprints on the bounce and he came second in this race last year when meeting some traffic problems – agonisingly tipped at 40/1 – so I’m in no mood to let him go unbacked at 10/1 with unfinished business.
I’m also backing his stablemate, the speedy filly BELVOIR BAY, who is a ‘come and get me’ price at 40/1.
She gets weight from the boys and has absolutely bolted up in her two runs this season, with the profile of a horse that when on song is a force to be reckoned with.
Blue Point has been beaten many times before and, though brilliant on his day too, is certainly not unopposable at the prices.
A quick word on Sands Of Mali, a 28/1 winner for us at Ascot on Champions Day: I suspect the lack of a prep and faster ground than he got at Ascot leaves him vulnerable, so 9/1 looks fair at best.
I can’t find a bet in the 1m1f Dubai Turf where unbeaten Japanese superstar Almond Eye starts her season off, mainly because the speedy Dream Castle looks the obvious one to take her on with but is a fairly smelly price at 7/2.
Later on the card I can’t resist backing Aidan O’Brien’s Royal Ascot winner MAGIC WAND for the Sheema Classic, who has already run once in 2019 when finishing an excellent second in a valuable Grade 1 in America.
She will love the good ground and should be prepped to run a big race in this – which is not always true of her stablemates who have run at this meeting down the years – while the trip is ideal too.
With Old Persian – a horse we tipped at 16/1 when winning at York last year – the favourite, I would be fairly confident he doesn’t have a significant class edge to be several times shorter a price than Magic Wand’s 6/1, which looks very appealing.
1pt win Stormy Liberal @10/1, 13:30 Meydan, Saturday
1pt win Belvoir Bay @40/1, 13:30 Meydan, Saturday
1pt win Magic Wand @6/1, 16:00 Meydan, Saturday