12:40 Meydan We kick off the first of eight races from one of the Mecca’s of flat racing. With sixteen runners going to post for this one I’m plummping for no less than three selections. Clearly Tamarkuz has a great chance with three wins on the spin all from here at Meydan but with so many runners you have to look for a bit of value. The Brendan Powell trained Dark Emerald has been super consistent over the winter but all of the horses runs have been on turf and the horses record on the artificial surface is less than impressive. Moving on to the first of my three picks and I’m going with one of the few course and distance winners. Trainer Doug Watson has some of his horses firing and he enters the five year old Layl. The horse has placed in its last five races and although this is a bit of a step up in competition if it remains consistent it could sneak a place. My penultimate selection is a horse that comes from a local trainer D.Selvaratnam who has a great record at Meydan and any of the Dubai based trainers have to gain your utmost respect. The trainer saddles Forjatt who has won its last two races at Abu Dhabi and Jebel Ali. The horses last visit to Meydan ended in a placed effort in a group three race and brilliant and promising jockey Oisin Murphy, today’s jockey is unbeaten when riding the horse. As with my first selection the horse will need to make a marked step up but I’m also hoping this ones consistency helps in it’s chance of grabbing place money. The third and final pick is a very interesting horse and one of the youngest in the race. Jeremy Noseda’s four year old Sloane Avenue is unbeaten on an artificial surface. The horse is very lightly raced and has bags of room for improvement. It may also have some of the best form out of the runners in this as it’s previous race, a win in a listed race at Kempton reads very well as it beat a French horse called Cladocera who runs in a race later on and who has done nothing but impress at Meydan. If Sloane Avenue ensures that win wasn’t a fluke and has trained on even more this year it has a very good chance. Layl (E/W) Forjatt (E/W) Sloane Avenue (E/W)

13:15 Meydan The second race on the card is very very open as fifteen runners tackle a mammoth two mile trip. John Gosden’s Marzocco has to go in the notebook even if it just for connections alone. The horse has won over two miles before so the trip shouldn’t be a huge concern and will strip fitter for it’s winning seasonal return. However the horse is very inconsistent and has never won two races in a row. The well travelled seven year old Brown Panther has been raced all over the world and should take this race in its stride but just like the aforementioned Marzocco rarely win on multiple occasions. The horse I fear the most is the French trained Bathyron who did well to finish second in the Prix Du Cadaran last time out, if the horse can run well at Meydan it should have a great chance but my slight doubt is whether or not the horse will relish the firmer conditions. This has lead me on to course winner Almoonqith who took a step up in distance last time out and relished the test of stamina when springing a surprise at 33/1. The race it won is used as a trial for this and if the trainer as well as jockey Paul Hanagan can squeeze out further improvement it could make it a consecutive course win. Almoonqith (E/W)

13:55 Meydan Our third race is the final Group 2 race of the day and unlike the first two races there’s only the ten runners. I’m sure all ten of the horses have some sort of chance but in my opinion it is really only a two horse race. The two Al Shaibani trained horses have done nothing wrong in winning all bar one of their races each but I think this is far too big a step up in class. Sir Fever may be Godolphin’s number one selection in this but I just don’t think the horse has the class to turn it’s Uruguayan form into top notch winning ability at Meydan. I find that Japanese trained horses very rarely translate their form from their native Japan to overseas races and thus eliminates three of the remaining runners. Faithful Creek represents the UK but I fear this is also too much of a step up for the Brian Meehan trained runner. This now leaves me with just two runners, both of which are course winners. Maftool and Mubtaahij met at Meydan previously in which the Godolphin runner came out on top. However I think Mubtaahij will be able to reverse that form now that the three year old is accompanied by legendary French jockey Cristophe Soumillon. Mubtaahij (WIN)

14:30 Meydan Our first Group 1 race is a sprint as sixteen runners line up for this contest. The sprint king of last season Sole Power takes this race but despite its wonderful form in winning some big races last year the eight year old has been a shadow of its former self in its last three races and doesn’t seem to have the same spark it once had. I would love for the Edward Lynam trained runner to recapture it’s best form and if it does will have all of these far behind but I have to let my head rule my heart and think it probably wont get close to the placings. French four year old Farmah has a great record when running on turf and after it’s first try on an artificial surface last time out will relish the return to grass but as with most French horses most of its winning has come on very soft ground which is poles apart from the conditions it’ll experience today. A lot of people are talking up the chances of favourite Peniaphobia, trained by Douglas Whyte who has won three of its last five runs. I’m sure these whispers are based on a lot of truth and with the horse current favourite in the race I fear it is the one to beat and the biggest threat to my selections chances. I really cannot split three horses that all seem markedly overpriced so as with my first race I’m plunging for all three runners. The first of the trio comes from the US from renowned American trainer Wesley A Ward. Ward is renowned for his prowess with sprinters and I can’t see the trainer sending the lightly raced horse all the way to Dubai and on to the world stage without a modicum of hope and a chance is taken on this one. Hototo is the second horse that gets the nod. The horse won a course and distance handicap and finished second the time after. The horse certainly needs to improve but I’m not so certain this years renewal of the race is the best weve seen and the horses course form may be enough to take a hand in this. My third horse is one I think is a horse that if it doesn’t perform today is definitely worth watching out for throughout the rest of the year. Jim Crowley takes the ride on board Lancelot Du Lac who seems some what of a rejuvenated character after two decent placed efforts over course and distance. If Jim Crowley can ensure the horse can fend off some of the late challenges it is sure to encounter I think it has a great chance of at least finishing in the places. Green Mask (E/W) Hototo (E/W) Lancelot Du Lac (E/W)

15:05 Meydan The Dubai Golden Shaheen is the race that awaits us next. The horses at the head of the market all seem to reign from the US Breeders Cup Sprint and despite Secret Circle being the current betting favourite I think Salutos Amigos poses the biggest danger and has a far greater chance. Although Salutos Amigos has a fantastic chance there’s still a question mark over how well it will perform here at Meydan and although I couldn’t put anybody off backing the Cornelio Velasquez ridden five year old I think there’s a few other horses that represent better value. Unlike the aforementioned US runners United Color definitely acts well at Meydan with a course and distance win to its name.The horse was finishing well when second behind Shaishee last time out over course and distance and finished third in this race last year. The other horse that I like is trained by Doug Watson and had a promising fourth placed finish last time out when making its stable debut. Cool Cowboy had previously won all four of its races on dirt in America and at the age of four has scope to improve. United Color (E/W) Cool Cowboy (E/W)

15:40 Meydan Solow is the red hot favourite in this but as you may or may not have realised from my previous race previews I really value course form around Meydan and the horse that has been tearing up Meydan this winter is Cladocera, a horse I personally backed on both of its last two winning outings and I was markedly impressed with the fillies attitude. I have to admit that the horse still needs to step up on its previous achievements but the way it won its last two races I wouldn’t be surprised if the horse has the scope to do so. The race doesn’t look like the most competitive renewal and I just think that a current price around 8/1 is a ridiculous price that just has to be capitalised on as I really can’t see this one finishing out of the top three. Of the remaining runners The Grey Gatsby obviously has to be taken into the equation and has a good chance and Trade Storm looks to be the dark horse in the race but all that being said I cannot look past the French four year old filly that also gets a nice weight allowance from the majority of its rivals. Cladocera (E/W)

16:15 Meydan The penultimate race on the card and what a difficult one to call. It has the smallest number of runners so far but a case can easily be made for most of the runners. Harp Star went in everybody’s notebooks when it finished like a train in last years Arc but since that very imprssive run it went back to its native Japan and finished fifth on both occassions. If the horse reproduces the run it had in The Arc it has a great chance but I wouldn’t be overly confident that it can after those less impressive outings after and I’m going to oppose the favourite despite it now enlisting the services of Ryan Moore. As with the previous race I’m siding with a Christophe Soumillon ridden horse as Dolniya, a horse that also finished well in last years Arc De Triomphe and opened the season with a decent win over Flintshire. Three year old’s don’t tend to have a good record in the Paris showpiece so it did mightily well. Now at the age of four I think the horse has trained on well and should have the beating of most of these. I have to mention Main Sequence who has been a reformed character since moving over The Atlantic to the US the horse has won all five of its races. If the horse can reproduce its US form it’ll have a great chance but I can’t help but remember some of the poor performances the horse put in when it raced in the UK. Godolphin hold this meeting as the jewel in their crown and I can’t ignore the fact they only have one runner in this and is a course winner True Story may be worth a shot. I think the race is likely to be run at a slow pace and the reliance on stamina may not be necessary which will play in to the hands of the James Doyle ridden four year old. At arond 33/1 it’s definitely worth an each way shot. Dolniya (E/W if 9/2+) True Story (E/W)

17:00 Meydan The showpiece and final race of the meeting is the richest horse race in the world The Dubai World Cup. This years renewal is headed by two American runners. The favourite, California Chrome has an unbelievable resume with coming so close to winning the Triple Crown when winning both The Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. That form is the best on offer here but since those lofty achievements the horse has head very muddling form and I think of the two American runners it’s the six year old Lea, The horse is lightly raced and is likely to have more to come. That being said however I still have my doubts over the horses ability to take to Meydan so I am going to have to look elsewhere. One horse that wont have any issues with today’s conditions is last years World Cup winner African Story. It’s safe to say that the eight year old isn’t the most consistent horse but comparing this years renewal to last it doesn’t seem as competitive and a decent win last time out shows the horse still retains a good level of ability. The Godolphin team hold this race above all else and will have all guns blazing to win the showpiece event again this year. Of the remaining runners I think Prince Bishop may surprise a few and run a decent race. African Story (E/W)

by Rory Paddock

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