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Godolphin Mile preview

It's World Cup night on Saturday in Dubai but don't be fooled into thinking that the headline event is the best race on the card. There are some great races on the programme, the Cup is just one of them. I'll be covering most of the races here on the blog, and one of the contributors drafted in is international form expert David Haddrell, @davidhaddrell. First up, the Godolphin Mile....


Godolphin Mile

A very competitive renewal of this Group One over a mile ran on the Tapeta track to kick off the card for the proper horses and not the pantomine Arab-breds. Last year's winner African Story swerves this assignment for the World Cup which probably is no tougher than this but has a higher purse and prestige so the local mob are keen to divert equine resources to that race in order to keep their mitts on the big prize.

Anyway, even allowing for his absence, we've got a strong field of 16 runners going to post for the race and I'll briefly summarise each of them here...

1. Alpha - Ex US horse which has had one run in the UAE which was a disaster finishing last. Got smashed in the Breeders Cup Classic before that too. Drawn on the inside and interesting that Godolphin only rely on this, Time Prisoner and Moonwalk In Paris but it still has a hell of a lot to find to land a blow in this. I made it the complete rag of the field.

2. Mufarrh - Ran second in this race in 2011 and didn't return to the track until just before Christmas last. Slowly got back to form and won a handicap last time out but beating the likes of Banna Boirche a nose there is a long way off what's required to win this and he's not shown he's got the class he had two years ago. I'd be in no rush to take 12s despite the draw and Fallon up (who's been riding very well out in Dubai this Winter).

3 Red Jazz - Contested this race in 2011 and 2012, getting placed in both renewals coming straight here. This time he's had a prep, finishing 10th of 14 in the trial for this race. Concerning that he could place straight off the plane in those races but ran no race fresh this time. Also a bit older and European form is no better than in previous years so couldn't recommend him to make it third time lucky out here.

4. Time Prisoner - Ex French horse which has had 5 runs out in Dubai, winning 2 handicaps. Came 4th in weak G2 sprint last time out on Tapeta but best runs prior to that were on turf and another one who's form looks a touch short of the required here.

5. Zazou - German raider who took the scalp of Cirrus Des Aigles just over a year ago on the polytrack at Chantilly. Not won since and beaten in that race this year. Can see no signs why he'd take a hand at the shorter trip here despite coming 5th in the World Cup last year. Suspect he had his chance in 2012 and unlikely to trouble less exposed rivals.

6. Surfer - Local runner who should be respected having chased the World Cup fav home the last twice. Drops back to 1m here which he's won over C&D at before and he's ultra consistent. Would be dangerous to rule out but already been nibbled at in the market over the last few days.

7. Sarkiyla - French filly who showed a liking for quick ground she rarely encountered in Europe last year. Wasn't beaten far behind superstar Moonlight Cloud in the Moulin at Longchamp on ground she wouldn't have enjoyed. I suspect Tapeta will suit her down to the ground and whilst her jockey has put some erratic displays in over the past 2 years, he's very good when at his best and at 14/1, she looks the bet of the race to me. Unexposed, likely to enjoy the surface and has good European form to bring to the table. Connections rarely travel their dud fillies and I think she'll give you a good shout for your money.

8. Master Of Hounds - Consistent Meydan performer that's plied his trade mainly on the turf track in Dubai. Looked a bit below his best this season and last Tapeta run in last year's World Cup was probably tilting at windmills. Ran well on the surface before that in the 2012 season but will need to be right back to his best to land this but one that's hard to put a line through.

9. Rerouted - Very consistent handicapper for Mike De Kock, formally with Barry Hills and used as Frankel's defunct pacemaker! Put in some nice handicap performances out in the desert and won his last two races on the surface but this is quite a step up from the challenges he's been facing. Easy to skip by in favour of other runners.

10. Haatheq - The rag of the field I'd want to be with. 50s with the firms but only beaten 4L by Moonwalk In Paris and came 5th in this last year. Form coming into this is no worse than last year and this is probably a weaker renewal. Will probably outrun his price without getting paid but if you like a rag, he'd be one to side with.

11. Penitent - Improved no end since joining David O'Meara but has mainly been winning weak group races in Europe. His wins last year came when he was handy and the talented Danny Tudhope's options are limited from the 11 box. Never ran on Tapeta before and whilst he's an admirable horse who you couldn't fault, you wonder whether sending him here when there will be soft ground group races at home in coming weeks was the right idea. Not for me as second favourite in the race.

12. Capital Attraction - Champion UAE trainer sends this one here which ran second to last years winner of this race last time out and yet it's 20/1 for the race. The draw and jockey aren't huge positives but he's consistent and loves the surface and 20/1 definitely underestimates his chances in this race.

13. Soft Falling Rain - Your standard sexy Mike De Kock horse. Won all five starts including two on the Meydan Tapeta track, one of which was over C&D, both wins here very impressive so what's not to like? Well he's only a 3/1 shot drawn out by the Burj and he's facing older horses for the first time. The price kills it.

14. Saamidd - Once touted as a rival to Frankel but firmly put in his place by him in the Dewhurst. Had the usual Godolphin setback campaign involving getting beaten by Paul Midgely trained animals in Yorkshire but showed a glimmer of his old self back in his owners back yard the last twice behind Moonwalk In Paris and African Story. Buick up and whilst drawn in 14 isn't ideal, I can see him outrunning his 33/1 price for sure and he starts slowly and can be dropped in so 14 isn't as worrying as it would be for some.

15. Moonwalk In Paris - Seemed to enjoy Dubai and Godolphin obviously sent him here as a replacement for African Story. A few have said he's overpriced at 11/1 but drawn out in 15 with Ajtebi up? Clearly talented and goes on the track but 11/1 is about the right price taking everything into consideration.

16. Barbecue Eddie - Eddie is a legend around Meydan having dotted up in numerous conditions and minor group races at the track, especially in the Autumn. He's often come up short when the big boys and girls from Europe come out to play from January onwards and I think that will continue to be the case here despite having the assistance of a hugely under rated pilot in Patt Dobbs onboard.

This race has lost its star favourite in African Story and I think that's one reason why De Kock has sent Soft Falling Rain here instead of the UAE Derby but I can't have him at the prices. Capital Attraction is a model of consistency on the surface and ran a lovely trial for the race having progressed dramatically from the Autumn handicaps that they hold here but I think he's going to struggle to take the prize home for his local in form trainer. Haatheq also should give a very good account of himself and out run his ridiculous 50/1 price but he's another local horse that will make the odds compilers look a little silly without bagging the No.1 spot. I have often said that backing unglamorous local horses at this meeting is the most profitable strategy but that seems to have corrected itself in recent years and in this race, I'm siding with one of only two horses in this race that have never flown into Dubai before. Sarkiyla brings strong European form to this race and her very shrewd trainer wouldn't be lobbing her in an all sex race like this on a whim and given she seems to like a sounder surface back in Europe, she should go on the Tapeta here and 14/1 is a big price for such an unexposed horse from a world class yard like hers.

Advice: Sarkiyla EW at 14/1 with small EW savers on Capital Attraction and Haatheq.


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