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Dubai Gold Cup preview

World Cup Day in Dubai is one of the world's great race meetings. With an obscene amount of money on offer and some of the finest horseflesh, trainers and jockeys in the world present, it's got to be followed.

Previewing the big staying race of the day is regular international racing contributor, Davy Lane, @loscharruas.

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Dubai Gold Cup
Group 2, US$1,000,000
Turf, 3200m
1655 local, 1255 GMT, 0055 Sun AEDT


The defection of Sheikhzayedroad in the pursuit of fourth or fifth place prize money in the Sheema Classic means only 11 go to post, four fewer than each of the last two renewals of the race. This is an easier race to find the winner than in years past.

In Sheikhzayedroad’s defence, the Aga Khan’s Vazirabad had been a strong and worthy ante-post favourite and probably one best avoided. The connections of Sheikhzayedroad had not, however, counted on the four year old colt being denied a window seat on the flight from Paris. Vazirabad has been swishing his tail in annoyance ever since he arrived in Dubai. Although his trainer reported his weight has since returned to optimal levels, he has missed most of his intended pre race training. That most bookies remain 11/8 and that some have shortened him to 5/4 is absurd. The horse can win, but he is no longer primed to win. The Aga Khan has bigger more prestigious targets ahead in the summer and maybe in the Melbourne spring. If the horse is agitated in any way, Christophe Soumillon knows enough to preserve his integrity for future battles.

There are two second favourites floating around. Big Orange who has been receiving Pavlovian endorsements from Anglo-centric media and the Andre Fabre beast, Manatee. My advice is to avoid Big Orange. I followed his work during the week and neutral non-English commentators all reported as to how washy he appeared. Manatee is more interesting. He was supplemented. He looks fantastic. And his trainer Andre Fabre is in town as opposed to getting a final polo match in in South America.

Of the top three market, Manatee at 9/2 is the safest bet.

Who can you toss?

Suegioo is a Dr. Marwan Koukash horse. Richard Fahey gave the proverbial wink to the punter when interviewed during the week saying the owner wanted him here. Somehow, Suegioo won a Chester Cup once, but that was all about Ryan Moore and an inside draw. Perhaps Koukash has more Chester Cup aspirations given Suegioo's respectable third in the Doncaster Cup and sixth in the Long Distance Cup at Ascot last year, but Suegioo like Vazirabad also did not travel well. Paul Hanagan maybe a great jockey, but he is not an ambulance driver.

Certerach ran a respectable second last time at Meydan after showing nothing all through the carnival. He did win this race as a 33/1 shot two years ago. UAE Champion, Tadhg O’Shea, is aboard. These are all plusses. But Certerach has a past his sell by date feel about him and this courageous character by Halling seems sure to be running in place down the homestretch. Save your money.

Star Empire exceeded expectations when winning earlier in the carnival, but Dubai Racing TV commentators have hinted at this being his last race. This is going to be his lap of honour. Keep your coin.

Meadow Creek has place form in early in his French career and place form recently at Meydan. The Watson-Dobbs combination has served many punters well at this carnival. One could be tempted to him to tip each way. The horse racing cognoscenti would be full of praises post race, but there are no winnings to be had for picking a gallant fourth place.

Neo Black Dia has no chance per the Japanese media in Dubai. And who I am to argue with them?

Who can spring a surprise?

Haafaguinea winning would not be a surprise. He is a talented middle distance handicapper, but one who would have been out of his depth in the Sheema Classic. This is an experiment to see if he has the stamina to go further. I suspect this is also about keeping Saeed bin Suroor relevant on the night. Haafaguinea’s breeding suggests he will fade turning for home. James Doyle would a handsome sight crossing the finish line and that possibility will influence more than a few punters. You don’t have to be one of them.

Paradise is only a four year old filly, but is already proven at the distance. She gets a significant weight allowance. One could not fault a punter for taking a flyer on her. I am always inclined to punt a German-bred horse, but this is a big step up in class and I suspect the filly may get muscled out of the race. A respectable top six performance may influence an Australian buyer or two, however.

Who will spring a surprise?

Tellina at 25/1. The Mike de Kock trained 6 year old by Silvano finished a close third in South Africa’s premier race, the Durban July last year. Connections may have initially aspired to a more prestigious middle distance championship race when shipping the 6 year old gelding to Dubai, but recent efforts bare all the hallmarks of a horse being wound up for a longer distance race. This is the target. The booking of Ryan Moore when available last time out suggested as much. It has been reported Telling was unlucky not to have third. But that was more about Moore preserving the horse. Some bookmakers are still offering 25/1. Fools! I noticed the shrewd cats over Corals cut the horse to 16/1 earlier in the week. You should also be so shrewd and bet Tellina in as many ways as possible before the horse’s price gets slashed in the hours before the race.

Selections
1 Manatee
2 Tellina
3 Vazirabad
4 Meadow Creek
Manatee 9/2 - William Hill, Bet365, Coral
Tellina 25/1 - William Hill, BetFred, Paddy Power

Advice:
Bet Manatee to win, Bet Tellina to win.
Include Tellina in multiple each way parlays.
Reverse Forecast Manatee and Tellina.

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