The flat is back! Finally! Yes, I’m very happy about this. I love flat racing. Though, understandably, there will be also plenty of sad faces today, as this means the jump season is pretty much over. Even though the biggest of them all, the Grand National is still to come!
But personally I really happy to have the flat back, as it means spring is in the air and top class racing is approaching thick and fast! The UK flat season kicks-off with the Lincoln meeting at Doncaster, while we have the Dubai World Cup night at Meydan today. It ain’t much better. I don’t want to bore you to death, dear readers, so i hope you enjoy this quick and snappy betting preview of all the big races….
2.35 Doncaster: Cammidge Trophy (Listed)
Wide open renewal. The ground is drying out and that may catch out a couple of these, particularly last years winner Dinkum Diamond. On the other hand the ground may not be quite quick enough for Naadirr, who I actually like allot, but under a penalty could find this too tough. Astaire will find this easier than the top races he contested in last season. He is a worthy favourite, but not more than a fair price.
As the value here, I fancy the filly Perfect Blessings to go well. Still rather lightly raced, she looked promising in spring last year and may do better now as a four year old than her last two results may suggest. If she is fit today, she could outrun her price with conditions to suit. 1/4 odds EW with Coral looks tasty here.
Perfect Blessings @ 33/1 Coral – 2.5pts EW
3.45 Doncaster: Lincoln Handicap (Class 2)
The feature race on the opening day of the English flat season – the Lincoln is naturally a race with a big field and plenty of runners with realistic chances. Two lightly raced horses heading the market this year, tough current second favourite GM Hopkins makes more appeal than 13/2 favourite Mange All. If you ignore those two slightly below forms when seen last in the 2014 season – where the soft ground may not have been quite suitable – then Gm Hopkins is a rapidly improving gelding with plenty of scope. Still generally lightly raced, he won a big Newmarket Handicap last summer in the manner of a really good horse.
Strong pace is key to him, but that should be ensured today, and the drying ground is a big bonus. It’s more than fair to assume that he has much more to offer from a mark off 99. If he progresses with age as one would hope and actually expect, then 7/1 could be a bit too big a price.
Another runner I fancy, though a much bigger price, is Baraweez. A very impressive winner of a Premier Handicap on Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown, he was progressive last season as well and could have still more to give. He wwas also a good winner at the Galway Festival, both those big wins came over 7f, but he’s equally good over further, as a strong pace is simply key to him. Interesting that Chris Hayes travelled over to ride two mounts for Brian Ellison on the card, but surly this is the one he’s over for. No doubt, Baraweez is overpriced in my mind at 22/1.
Gm Hopkings @ 7/1 Bet365 – 5pts win
Baraweez @ 22/1 Coral – 5pts win
2.30 Meydan: Al Quoz Sprint (Group 1)
I might be slightly biased here because I really love South African racing and therefore have all fingers crossed for big runs of South African horses at Meydan today. Although, even from a neutral perspective, one has to say that 14/1 for Via Africa must rate as way too big a price. The filly is the best sprinter in her native country, a multiple Grade 1 winner with loads of pace. She impressed me on her Meydan debut when she showed excellent gate speed and stuck well to the task in the closing stages.
She was entitled to fade away, given the gruelling preparation she had to endure, with all the quarantine measurements taken in regards of South African horses, but she finished well enough. Via Africa should come on allot for this, only the bounce factor is a slight worry. But conditions in her favour, I would expect a big run.
Via Africa @ 14/1 Bet365 – 5pts win
3.40 Meydan: Dubai Turf (Group 1)
Multiple Group winner Sollow is favourite to land this, though this is his first ever crack at the highest level. In contrast proven Group 1 horse The Grey Gatsby makes more appeal on pure form. He lowered the colours of Australia last year and should be a major contender here. Slight concern is the drop in trip, as he looked to need every inch at Leopardstown.
Euro Charline looks the value against the two well fancied favourites. This filly could easily have still more to offer. She was super progressive last year as she performed very well during spring in top Group races in the UK and won a 1m Listed contest before she travelled over to the US to land a strong renewal of the Grade 1 Beverly D. Stakes in very taking style. She proved that day what a gutsy, genuine and talented filly she is. She missed the Breeders Cup through injury, but vibes are very positive in recent days about her wellbeing and a big run can be expected.
Euro Charline @ 10/1 Bet365 – 5pts win
4.15 Meydan: Dubai Sheema Classic (Group 1)
Probably the deepest race on the excellent World Cup card – you could make a case for almost every runner. The Japanese have a very strong hand in this once again. Harp Star was unlucky in the Arc last year, and wasn’t disgraced in two subsequent races back home in very hot company. With Ryan Moore in the saddle, she has every chance. Arc runner-up Flinsthire will relish the conditions, and must rate a big danger. His Hong Kong Vase triumph is a brilliant piece of form, after hitting the crossbar on so many occasions before. However he really needs to have everything falling right into place, as otherwise he will surly run well but without crossing the line first once again.
Main Sequence has been utterly impressive since moving to the US. He deserves plenty of respect. But this rapid improvement could easily be down to medication, and I’m not sure if he can run to the same sort of form outside the US. The one horse I feel is the value here, is the French filly Dolniya. She was very progressive last season, ended the year with a creditable 5th place in the Arc and has scope for further improvement. She beat Flintshire in a prep on the All-Weather over shorter last month and in my mind she doesn’t get the credit she deserves here.
Dolniya @ 7/1 Coral – 5pts win
Dn’t miss the big race preview of the $10 million Dubai World Cup: Read here!