Arrogate did it last year, controversially winning Horse of the Year for a performance that was the last time he won a race. An obscene amount of money for a surface almost exclusive to one continent, this year's edition has attracted a couple of European turf horses as well.
Tasked with previewing the world's richest non-buy-in-invitational race is regular international racing aficionado Luke Humphreys, @WorldRacingLuke.
Emirates Airline Dubai World Cup
G1, 2000m, 1m2f, $USD10,000,000, Dirt
Race 9 Meydan, 1750 BST, 2050 Local Time’
Race 9 Meydan, 1750 BST, 2050 Local Time’
(PRICES LISTED ARE BEST AVAILABLE FRIDAY MORNING)
1 Awardee (66/1): Fifth here 12 months ago ten and a half lengths behind Arrogate. Didn’t have much luck in the Japanese trial for this at G1 level last time, unlikely to be good enough however.
2 North America (8/1): Won the principal trial race for this at G1 level over the C&D three weaks ago easily. This is much tougher and I don’t like tipping local form throughout the Carnival in these types of races. Form when in the UK was pitiful compared to now. No way for me.
3 Gunnevera (10/1): Stormed home for third down on the running rail in the Pegasus last time. Has proven to be a bit disappointing since demolishing the G2 Fountain of Youth, Kentucky Derby trial, field last year. Was just over three lengths behind today’s favourite when second in the G1 Travers last year and two and three quarter lengths behind him in the G1 Classic at the Breeders’ Cup when dead-heating with Arrogate. Joel Rosario, who won this five years ago, rides for first time, but has work to do against the favourite.
4 Furia Cruzada (100/1): Three-time G1 winner in Chile. Winner of one of the trial races for this last year. Nine length third in the G1 C&D trial three weeks ago. Second last beaten 47 lengths 12 months ago, no chance.
5 Mubtaahij (22/1): Derby winner here three years ago. Second to California Chrome in this two years ago and fourth last year. This will be his fourth consecutive World Cup night run and third World Cup start. Very consistent but has always been a couple of lengths of the very best. Now with the Bob Baffert stable, G1 Awesome Again winner last year and G1 second behind Accelerate last time. Not the worst at 22/1.
6 Forever Unbridled (9/1): Third in the 2016 Distaff narrowly behind Beholder and Songbird at the Breeders’ Cup. Took all before her in three runs last year, including going two places better at the Breeders’ Cup. However is first-up since then and goes a furlong further than ever before and also first-up time against the men. Look for her late.
7 Talismanic (8/1): Proved to be a revelation in the back end of last year winning the Turf at the Breeders’ Cup at 14/1, again showing why Fabre is an absolute freak, and then a game second to Highland Reel over 2400m at Sha Tin. Very good return over 1900m on the All-Weather at Chantilly when easily opposing for stablemate Cloth Of Stars, who runs in Sheema. Fabre obviously didn’t want to have both of them in the one race so puts this one on the dirt. Is by Medaglia d’Oro who was second in this and in the Breeders’ Cup Classic to Pleasantly Perfect so that is some sort of positive regarding the surface. Fabre is a master so can’t be discounted. Best horse in race, but very rare does the best horse in the race, that usually races on turf, wins on dirt. A punter trying that angle would’ve done his money way too many times, (So You Think 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic, Epiphaneia 2015 Dubai World Cup, Declaration of War 2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic etc)
8 Pavel (16/1): Not sure if he would’ve won last time but he was desperately unlucky either way at G2 level at Santa Anita. Did very little in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
9 West Coast (Evens): Sets the standard very clearly in this. Easy G1 victories in the Travers and Pennsylvania Derby and then very game placings in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic and G1 Pegasus World Cup. No Gun Runners or Collected or the like in this, gets his chance for a huge G1 victory. Looks one of the best of the night.
10 Thunder Snow (14/1): Two G1 victories have both been in France in the Criterium International and Prix Jean Prat. Did the classic double of the Guineas and Derby here last year. Was very consistent last season in Europe. Has run in the three trials race this preparation winning the 1900m trial and then second in the G1 C&D trial three weeks ago and second first-up over 1600m. I don’t think his form this preparation has been as good as last year and I just can’t have that form from last start as he was beaten easily by a horse that would get lapped at feature level in Europe. Maybe with Soumillon back on board he can improve.
Ratings: (9) WEST COAST - (7) TALISMANIC - (6) FOREVER UNBRIDLED - (3) GUNNEVERA - (8) PAVEL - (5) MUBTAAHIJ – (10) THUNDER SNOW - (1) AWARDEE - (2) NORTH AMERICA - (4) FURIA CRUZADA