Do you feel excited? I certainly do. Why? We have some fantastic racing at Meydan today! There is the interesting looking Listed contest with recently rejuvenated & multiple Group 1 winner Hunter’s Light leading the pack. And there is the hightlight of the night, the Group 2 Balachine Stakes. But don’t dismiss the competitive Handicaps. There usually offer some great drama!
Surely, Cladocera is the star of the day! The French filly is a short price to land the Balachine after a very impressive Meydan debut last month. There is potential so much more to come from her, given her lightly raced profile. She is bound improve and it is hard – if not impossible – to look past her in the Balachine. Only slight worry could be the additional furlong today. She is a very speedy filly, and her stamina will surly be tested. But could someone threaten her if she finds her natural limits approaching the one mile post?
Well, the Turkish filly Suzi Gold is a Group 1 winner in her native Turkey and she is expected to do very well today. With form over further, one would think that stamina won’t be an issue for her. However her local Group success translates “only” into Listed class actually. Means she has a bit to find on form. But she may well do so. Her Turkish jockey Ozcan Yildirim is flying over for only this one race. So there is clearly some confidence that she has what it takes to feature prominently today.
What about the Dubai Millennium Stakes? Hunter’s Light is the odds-on favourite to land this Listed race and as a multiple Group 1 winner there is every reason to believe that he has too much on the plate for his rivals. Most of them are progressive handicappers, at best. The four year old colt Mr Pommeroy looks to me the one who could be leading the chasing pack. He wasn’t disgraced in A Group 2 last month, though more is required her today, and Hunter’s Light should be able to build on his recent Handicap success.
In the very same race the Norwegian trainer Niels Petersen has two runners. They are big prices and hard to see them going close, but it is still great to have races with truly international flair here at Meydan! The bravery of Petersen is respectable and one can only hope that it pays of at some point.
Betting wise, I find all those races not particularly attractive. I find it hard to challenge the short favourites in the big races, while most of the Handicaps are minefields, particularly the ones on the dirt. Fair play if anyone can make them pay. I struggle to distinguish the runners unfortunately. That says there is one race that really intrigues me. It the final race on the card, a big Turf Handicap over 7f:
18.15 Meydan: District One – Class 1 Handicap
This is an ultra competitive looking handicap, and nothing else is expected. The two at head of the market have obvious credentials to take this. Both Eastern Rules and Anaerobio proved themselves in Group class in the past and their return to Meydan in the Group 2 Al Fahidi was promising as well, with Eastern Rules chasing home Safety Check as the runner-up, while Anaerobio was quite unlucky not getting a clear passage, but finished very strongly. These two are very closely matched on previous form, but I would believe Anaerobio with a weight advantage this time could turn around the form. That says, I feel both are fair prices, but not really too big, so I look elsewhere.
You could make a case for plenty in this field, though two horses are stand-out prices in my mind. Music Theory is one of them, even though the big odds are diminishing fast. This lightly raced Godolphin gelding has caught my eye on two occasions now. He usually travelles extremely well and certainly did so on his seasonal reappearance when he finished 3rd behind subsequent Group 2 winner Safety Check. He got an absolute horror run that day though but finished like a train when in the clear. It’s been a different picture two weeks ago, when he stepped up to 1m. He was right up with the pace and travelled like the winner for a very long time. However he faded pretty badly inside the final furlong. That is no surprise to me. He looks like a 7f specialist and the drop to this trip will certainly help him today. An additional pound off his handicap mark won’t do any harm either. One has to keep in mind that Music Theory was a very promising juvenile when he finished once less than three lengths behind Kingman in the Solario Stakes. Talent is there, and there could be still more to come from him.
The second horse I believe has a much better chance than his big price tag, is the experienced Professor. His mark is dropping down to something that could see him go really close today. He returned to track two weeks ago in a hot mile handicap, which potentially stretches his stamina a bit. But he was also pretty badly hampered in the home straight when he was about to make a big move. He still ran on well I felt and that outing could bring him nicely along for today. It has to be said he didn’t have quite as a productive last season as one would have hoped, however a very strong runner-up at Royal Ascot in the big Wokingham Handicap and some decent performances on Group level, proved that he is a very genuine individual. With a clear run today, he could be very dangerous dropping down to the ideal 7f trip.
Music Theory @ 8/1 Coral – 5pts win
Professor @ 33/1 Coral – 5pts win