Our expert takes a quick look at the fields challenging for the Sheema Classic and Dubai Turf titles and provides readers with a winning tip in each race.
No other race card in the world of horse racing can boast as much top-quality action as Meydan can on Dubai World Cup day. Eight lucrative Group 1 and Group 2 contests will be run on 25th of March, wowing the tens of thousands of fans packed into Meydan Stadium that Saturday afternoon.
The Dubai World Cup race itself will be the highlight of the evening, but the Sheema Classic and the Dubai Turf sprints are always hotly contested, top-quality contests. Our expert takes a look at both races and picks out an attractive ante-post double.
25/3/2017 3:45pm Dubai Turf (Group 1) 1m1f
Tepin’s presence in the ante-post betting is a major point of excitement. The six-year-old was handed a surprise defeat by 30/1 outsider Photo Call at Keeneland earlier in the season, before finishing second again to Tourist in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. However, Mark Casse’s mare hasn’t been seen since November and after missing a scheduled outing in the Endeavor Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs earlier in February, her participation in the Dubai Turf has to be hanging in the balance.
2016 winner, Real Steel will make the journey from Japan again to defend his title and could be a danger if he can recapture his best form. Mutakayyef was last seen finishing less than a length behind Tepin in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile in September and he will be a strong challenger based on last season’s form. Glorious Goodwood winner and recent Lingfield Winter Derby Trial champion, Decorated Knight has decent each-way claims, but there is no doubting RIBCHESTER will be the one to beat.
Richard Fahey’s youngster won the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, before landing a huge Group 1 title at Deauville ahead of Vadamos, Ervedya and Galileo Gold. He then came very close to upsetting Minding in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes in October, pushing the dominant mare all the way to the line on his return to Ascot. This will be his first visit to Meydan, but if last season is anything to go by, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Richard Fahey and his Godolfin connections celebrating in the winner’s enclosure, when Ribchester lands the Dubai Turf title.
25/3/2017 3:45pm Meydan selection – RIBCHESTER (4/1 SkyBet)
Postponed (left) beating Highland Reel (right) to the Juddmonte International Stakes at York in August.
25/3/2017 4:20pm Sheema Classic (Group 1) 1m4f
Highland Reel enjoyed a successful summer campaign, racing predominantly in Europe’s most famous Grade 1 contests. He won the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Royal Ascot, before narrowly being edged out of huge victories in the Juddmonte Stakes at York and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Aiden O’Brien’s charge then upset Flintshire to win the Breeders’ Cup Turf title, before falling to a narrow defeat in the Hong Kong Vase on his last appearance.
Kitasan Black has won half of his appearances in prestigious Japanese Graded races over the past two seasons. Hisashi Shimizu’s charge won the Japan Cup back in November and was beaten by a neck to the Arima Kinen title by favourite, Satono Diamond on his last outing in December. This will be his first appearance outside his homeland, but he looks to be a quality sprinter and be should able to deal with the transition.
Both will ensure this year’s renewal of the Sheema Classic is a fantastic spectacle, but defending champion POSTPONED has to be the one to beat. He went into the Prix l’Arc de Triomphe on the back of a six-race unbeaten run in top-quality races, but he put in an uncharacteristically poor performance and crossed the line six lengths behind Found and Highland Reel. Roger Varian has given him a good break to recover from that disappointment. If he has returned to the form that saw him claim the Coronation Cup at Ascot and the Juddmonte Stakes title ahead of Highland Reel, he will fancy his chances of landing his third straight victory at Meydan.
25/3/2017 4:20pm Meydan selection – POSTPONED (2/1 SkyBet)