Thursday, March 24, 2011

Shades of Ipi Tombe

When I look at the race card for the Dubai Duty Free at Meydan on Saturday, I can't help thinking about Ipi Tombe, possibly its greatest winner. This is the mare that put Mike de Kock on the international map by winning this Group 1 race in 2003. In my opinion, the winner on Saturday will come out of the trio of mares that are entered in that race; River Jetez, Raihana, and Strawberrydaiquiri. Sorry colts, it seems to me the mares are stronger.

River Jetez has acclimatized well in Dubai and has 2 strong runs behind her. She should have won both of the races and it's well documented how she was unlucky in her first race. Her second race was impressive, and she showed a turn of foot (like brother Pocket Power) in the straight to win quite comfortably. She always gives the impression that she does her best. The only question mark for me is her jockey Faydherbe, who is her regular rider in South Africa, but who does not seem to have much experience at the Meydan track. If he does not get the mare caught into traffic, she has a major chance.

Raihana thrives in Dubai and also always gives a honest account of herself. The distance will suit her and because she's always in the whereabouts at the finish line, it's hard to overlook her. She definitely has Place claims and with luck in running, might win the race altogether.

Strawberrydaiquiri is for me, the dark horse of the race. On her Meydan debut, she was squeezed and checked twice in the straight and still finished 5th behind River Jetez. Without her traffic problems, she would have been much closer than the 4.5 lengths that separated the two. The experience of Johhny Murtagh will help and I think she's overly over-priced and can easily cause a shock.

What about the colts, you say? While Mendip is a proven Carnival winner on Tapeta, he's untried and unproven on turf. He's by Harlan Holiday, so I would not get too over excited about him running on turf. If he acts on it, then he can play a role, but that is too much speculation. Wigmore Hall is a good horse but the distance is on the short side for him. Presvis and Ryan Moore form a formidable duo and can take the spoils if they don't meet traffic as they usually do.

At this point, I really see the mares playing major roles in this one, and I'll wait for the trainers' comments until Friday to have an idea on their form and condition etc, and make a final decision on the recommendations.

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