Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card with nine to follow on Saturday at Meydan, Newbury and Kelso. View selections below
Arrogate (1/3 at BetVictor) goes into this afternoon’s Dubai World Cup the world’s top rated flat horse and the Breeders’ Cup Classic winner is hard to oppose having won the richest race in thoroughbred history the Pegasus Invitational Stakes at Gulfstream Park back in January.
Trained by the legendary Bob Baffert the four-year-old is unbeaten in his last six starts since finishing third on his racecourse debut last April. His draw in stall nine (of fourteen) looks ideal given there is plenty of pace inside him including Gun Runner who has improved significantly since being beaten 15 lengths by the favourite in the Group 1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga back in August.
Roger Varian’s Postponed is looking to win the Sheema Classic back-to-back but the evidence suggests he may not be quite as good as last year and he may get posted wide from his draw in stall seven.
Highland Reel (4.05) Meydan was last seen finishing runner up in the Hong Kong Vase and the hope is that Ryan Moore can get a soft lead on the five-year-old and strike for home early in the home straight. The selection (3/1 with BetVictor) trails Postponed 2-1 in their head-to-head and was well beaten in the corresponding race last year but he has a good draw in stall three and must go close as long as the recent rain in Dubai (yes there has been plenty of it) does not turn the ground any slower than good. If the ground is on the slow side of good I would expect Jack Hobbs to enter calculations.
Melbourne Cup runner up Heartbreak City can go close in the Dubai Gold Cup but I feel BetVictor’s 2/1 is a fair price for the top class French stayer Vazirabad (12.50) and I hope to see him reverse recent course form with the progressive mare Beautiful Romance. Today’s extra quarter of a mile will suit the French gelding who won this corresponding race twelve months ago beating Newmarket raider Big Orange who reopposes again this year.
There is a cracking jumps card from Newbury and the ground will be drying out all the time at the Berkshire track. I wonder if the ground will dry out too much for Coolking and in the opener I am going to take a chance at a big price each way on Ganbei (1.50) who is a multiple winning point-to-pointer, will love the drying ground and looks well treated on the best of his hurdles form.
Today’s better ground should see Theatre Territory in a better light in the valuable Mares’ Handicap Final but the vote goes to Copper Kay (3.00) who looks sure to appreciate today’s underfoot conditions. The selection finished runner up to Dusky Legend here over the minimum trip on good ground back in November and the winner finished a close third behind a couple of Irish raiders at Cheltenham earlier in the month.
Imperial Presence (5.20) is bred to make a chaser but needs to settle if he is to fulfil his potential. The selection has missed the deep mid-winter ground and the hope is that he is not too fresh for Richard Johnson who had a welcome four-timer midweek.
The ground is still described as heavy (soft in places) for Kelso’s valuable card and the progressive Big River (2.40) can get back to winning ways having finished runner up at Haydock from a 4lbs lower mark last time. Today’s conditions will suit and the stable won the corresponding race three years ago courtesy of Lie Forrit.
Baywing (3.15) has been raised 15lbs for winning the Grade 2 Towton Novices’ Chase at Wetherby last month but Ryan Day takes a valuable 5lbs off the top-weight back in handicap company. The Nicky Richards trained eight-year-old may have most to fear from Silver Tassie although Double Whammy will be one to look out for when the ground dries up.
Minella Suite (3.50) looked one to follow when finishing runner up over an inadequate 2 miles at Catterick earlier in the month and this step up in trip should suit. The handicapper may have taken a chance by leaving him on the same mark although the prospect of tacky ground is a concern.
Forest Des Aigles (4.25) will be ridden by James Reveley in the absence of the injured Derek Fox and I thought the selection ran a cracker when third over C&D last time. That was only his third start over fences and this six-year-old is open to significant improvement.