Stephen Molyneux's Dubai Carnival Analysis

Ekhtiyaar (15-8) was a 2pt winner for Stephen last week. Our Dubai expert has three bets for Thursday’s Meydan Dubai Carnival card – live on Sky Sports Racing - including a selection in the day’s big race, the Group 2 Cape Verdi.

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Published 9.38 16/01/20

The highlight of week 3 of the Carnival is the Cape Verdi, one of two races for fillies and mares only and quite often a disappointing series of races which historically are very uncompetitive.

The last five favourites have won as have seven of the last ten, with four of those being odds-on. Thankfully, that trend has been bucked this year with a competitive feel to the mile contest and only one of the eight runners can be safely discounted.

I shan’t say which one for fear of that one winning but my fancy, unsurprisingly, will sport blue and I think there is still time for MAGIC LILY to prove herself the filly she threatened to be when third in the Fillies’ Mile back in 2017.

She missed 2018 and returned late in 2019 with both her runs excusable at the same time hinting at her retaining plenty of ability. Firstly, she returned in desperate conditions at Saint-Cloud and was plenty keen enough before tiring, and then she had a horror draw at Lingfield and faded out of things late on having travelled well enough up with the pace. It also looked as though the track didn’t exactly play to her strengths and hopefully James Doyle will make plenty of use of her around Meydan and she can gallop her rivals into submission.

Her stable mate, Beyond Reason, is on a similar retrieval mission having looked a smart juvenile and is seemingly the choice of William Buick but hopefully he has got it wrong on this occasion.

Watch the Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan on Thursday live on Sky Sports Racing (Sky 415 | Virgin 535) .

The turf handicap sprint that kicks things off at 14:30 looks competitive but there is no reason why Almanaara won’t go well again. He won on the opening night when this half-brother to Dark Angel was having his first start on turf since moving to Dubai and Doug Watson could well have hit on a winning formula.

He is up 6lb and does find himself in a stronger race, however, and as favourite not much has been given away. With dangers such as Roulston Scar and Blueberry, the latter looking more in need of this trip when third on his reappearance, this is probably a race to leave lone.

My Catch looks a vulnerable favourite in the dirt handicap sprint at 15:05, particularly given his draw in stall 9. When successful in the UAE on dirt he has pinged the lids from gates 3, 1, and 1, admittedly also winning from 9 in the Garhoud Sprint in 2016 but on that occasion he had some outclassed rivals on his inside and he barely had to break sweat to get a good position.

That won’t be the case here with Bochart, Beachcomber Bay, The Song Of John and Nine Below Zero all on his inside. There is a bit of risk involved in half fancying the latter here, Nine Below Zero, but if he can transfer the speed he showed on turf last week back to dirt then maybe he will be hard to catch.

The visor lit him up on that occasion, and it needs to have the same effect, but even if not leading he gets over the dirt well and he could be running himself into form like so many from the yard do. The fact I have used the words could, if and maybe in that sentence suggests it isn’t a race to be getting too heavily involved in.

Watch the Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan on Thursday live on Sky Sports Racing (Sky 415 | Virgin 535) .

Godolphin dominates the Listed Zabeel Turf Handicap at 15:40 with Dream Castle heading the weights. Impressive around Meydan last year prior to the Dubai Turf, he does return with a bit to prove after a fruitless couple of runs in Australia but this certainly does represent his easiest task for some time.

My offering against him would be Desert Fire and well done to those who got double-figured odds about him last night. He is fairly well found now at about 6/1 on average but if he can continue the level of progression he showed throughout 2019 then he will be bang there.

He didn’t run a bad race at Meydan, winning once, and continued the good work back in Britain with his win at Chelmsford last time coming at the expense of a well handicapped horse in Dubai Warrior, he having improved 13lb in winning twice since.

His only blip came when his rider lost his irons coming out of the stalls at Epsom and it will be a surprise if he isn’t in the first three.

I wouldn’t be against Famous Wolf either at 50/1. He was the only one to even try and make a race of it with Benbatl last week, finishing fourth in the end but shaping a clear second best. It is hard to know how well rated he is coming from France and is turned out quickly but he could well show up for a long way.

Doug Watson has saddled doubles in each of the first two weeks and he will be a bit disappointed if he doesn’t go close in the 16:50, another dirt handicap, with two very live challengers. Midnight Sands is the progressive one having won both his starts this season, but they came over 7f and a lack of opportunity has forced Watson’s hand regards the trip. I would have been happier him going back to 6f but if he does stay then certainly he is the one to beat.

His biggest danger emerges from the same barn and I think THEGREATCOLLECTION represents a bit of value against him. He has been tricky in the past but turned over a new leaf towards the end of last season and he seems to be finding his form this time around.

He was improving into contention in the Creek Mile last time before losing all chance with a momentum-halting block from the fading Yulong Warrior, and he probably did quite well to run on again and claim fifth.

Ahead of him that day where Secret Ambition and Kimbear who fought out the finish to the Maktoum Challenge Round 1 last week and hopefully he gets a cleaner crack at things this time.

Watch the Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan on Thursday live on Sky Sports Racing (Sky 415 | Virgin 535) .

Godolphin often save their best until last and I am hoping that is the case with ROYAL MARINE in the 17:25, a turf handicap, who carries the profile of so many before him. A Group 1 winner at two, his four races at three saw him run in the Craven, 2000 Guineas, St James’s Palace and Prix Jean Prat so needless to say this is easier.

His form did get progressively worse but there was promise in his Craven effort (just ahead of Zakouski who bolted up last week), and he’s newly gelded, so plenty about him to suggest he can get back on track at the Carnival.

The race Major Partnership won last time isn’t strong and he got a perfect run around the inside, whilst locals account for a good percentage of the field and they are invariably up against it in these turf handicaps.  

Stephen Molyneux's Dubai Carnival Analysis
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