Hard to describe six races worth a bucket full of cash as mundane but that is the feel of this week’s Meydan card with just the 53 runners spanning the evening and the feature Group 2 Cape Verdi is there for the taking.
Pattern races must be able to justify their status to maintain their prestige and it is a good job the Cape Verdi has produced some good winners in the past as this year’s renewal is not up to scratch by any means.
Saeed bin Suroor seems the logical place to start as he has won the race five times in total including the last three renewals. He relies on Asoof and Victory Wave this time with the former presumably the number one pick with Christophe Soumillon on board. She is a three-time winner, the latest of those coming off a mark of 89 in handicaps so she will need to improve again which is highly possible after just eight starts.
Victory Wave has the benefit of a run but wasn’t crying out for the extra 1f when fading into sixth behind Another Batt. She did win over 1m on her debut but she was just much the best that day and her subsequent improvement and wins came over shorter.
Poetic Charm is another to represent Godolphin, this one in the care of Charlie Appleby and there is more to like about her claims having won at Listed level last year and finished second in a Group 3. Like Asoof, she has a better effort in her and Godolphin will be keen to land a race of this nature with her given she is related to Teofilo.
Mia Tesoro has been boldly campaigned by Charlie Fellowes and for the most part has rewarded that search for a pedigree upgrade. She won a Listed race at Nottingham in June and should pick up some prize money again without being good enough, whilst it is very hard to assess the claims of Monza and Peri Lina, although the latter hails from Turkey who won this back in 2005 with Ribella and their ratings compare favorably.
That leaves Furia Cruzada who would be a tentative choice, but she hasn’t exactly been missed in the market. She was second to Promising Run in the Balanchine last year and wasn’t beaten a million miles in the Dubai World Cup subsequently.
She needed her reappearance and then offered more encouragement when mid-field in the Singspiel Stakes, a race she should again tighten up for and this is far weaker. She is trained locally by Erwan Charpy who has only had two winners all season but both of those have come in the last two weeks.
The opening 6f sprint on dirt - Azizi Farishta Handicap - is due off at 14:30 with runners from Sweden and America up against the locals and the one I like is ALMANAARA, a half-brother to Dark Angel. A winner of two of his four starts last season, he entered this campaign as a horse that could hopefully mix it at a higher level, so it was undoubtedly disappointing to see him struggle in the Listed Garhoud Sprint behind Drafted, the strength of that form well-advertised since.
Horses from the Doug Watson yard are well renowned for leaving their initial efforts behind, however, and now back in calmer waters he should prove very difficult to catch from stall 1.
At the prices, I will take a chance on JUKEBOX JIVE in the Azizi Riviera Handicap due off at 15:05. Ispolini is a solid favourite on the back of a one-paced effort when second to Bin Battuta on his reappearance, and this trip could suit, but Jukebox Jive may well try and run the finish out of his rivals on what will be his first start for Jamie Osborne.
Leaving a jumps-orientated yard to join Osborne is one of the angles here, as is indeed is the fact he could be the sole pace in the race, and it’s worth noting that when the rail was out 12m for this meeting 12 months ago, Los Barbados and Mountain Hunter made all to win on the round track whilst Promising Run was always handy in landing the Cape Verdi. Basically, the further the rail is out, the easier it is to make all.
Both of Osborne’s runners last week ran with great credit, Dream Today winning on his first start for the yard, and hopefully Jukebox Jive can repeat the dose against an uninspiring field.
There are plenty of question marks hanging over most of the runners in the Azizi Aliyah Handicap at 15:40 and it looks a good opportunity for SECRET AMBITION who drops back into handicap company after a reappearance that was badly needed. He looked an absolute picture that day, certainly having the glint of a horse who could confirm all and more of the improvement he showed last season with his best effort coming when second to Kimbear in the G3 Burj Nahaar.
Whilst it is true he is now 14lb higher than when he last won a handicap, it is justified with the runner-up that day, Musawaat, subsequently finishing fourth in the Godolphin Mile, whilst the pair where over nine lengths clear of the third, Galvanize, who won effortlessly on his reappearance and is now rated 100. That performance marked Galvanize down as an improved performer and he rates the main danger, but Secret Ambition is a class act with a willingness to battle and that swings it in his favour.
A mere five of the ten runners in the penultimate contest will sport the blue of Godolphin withMountain Hunter the pick for Saeed bin Suroor, and Celestial Spheres looking the number one hope for Charlie Appleby. Mountain Hunter won here last year and is another prominent racer who should benefit from the rail being out and he would get my vote although don’t rule out Appleby’s second string, First Nation, who has only had four starts and was deemed good enough to line up in the Dante won by Roaring Lion.
The finale is even tougher. Key Victory and Settle For Bay were both too keen on their reappearances and could bounce back whilst victory for either of the Sheikh Hamdan pair, Muraaqeb or Suyoof wouldn’t surprise.
The former can boast some strong Australian form and their runners so far this Carnival have looked well handicapped whilst Suyoof was noted doing some good late work over shorter on his reappearance, and runners from the Mike de Kock yard invariably tighten up for the run.
STEPHEN's Best Bets (scale 1-5 points):
1pt win ALMANAARA (11-4 Ladbrokes, 5-2 Betfair Sportsbook, Bet Victor, Paddy Power)
1pt win JUKEBOX JIVE (16-1 Betfair Sportsbook, Bet Victor, bet365, Paddy Power, William Hill)
1pt win SECRET AMBITION (7-2 Ladbrokes, 3-1 general)