Thursday, January 12, 2012

Meydan Week 2

It's the second week of the Carnival at Meydan and as expected the Thursday card looks very competitive. No question that the attraction of the night is the Group 3 Maktoum Challenge race which features possible starters for the Dubai World Cup; i.e., much of it will depend on how they fare in this race first.

My pick in this race is Musir; it's simple, if he's top fit and near his best, he will win the race.He's coming off a 130-day break, so he's bound to be ring-rusty, but he's done very well coming back from a layoff before. There are 3 horses that could potentially outsmart Mike de Kock's colt; Master of Hounds, the stable's second-string which is bound to have a new lease of life under the South African trainer, having joined from the Ballydoyle camp. I've written many times how horse careers get transformed when they go through that transition and Master of Hounds looks up to great things under the care of de Kock. I have a feeling the trainer will use this race to gauge MOH's actual abilities, with a potential tilt at the DWC race itself should he show enough class.

Xin Xu Lin is being touted by Godolphin this year and it will not surprise me if he makes the frame.This is a high-class South American champion that was rushed to race in Meydan last year, and seems in much better condition to race this year. Al Zarooni looks bullish on his prospects and that usually means that the horse is expected to deliver. He can be a top contender if the others are not fully wound-up.

Finally, Mendip has serious form on the Meydan race-track. I have reservations about him since he was well beaten by Musir before and I find it hard to see him reversing the roles. His near-300 day layoff in such a competitive race looks to put him at a disadvantage as well. His No 1 stall should have him well placed in the race as long as he does not get caught on the rails.

My recommendation is a Place on Musir. Coming from stall No 4 should put him in good stalking position. If his form shines through, he should be right at the finish.

For anyone wanting a match-bet punt, I would go for Musir over Mendip. I also believe either Xin Xu Lin or Master of Hounds (or both) will be in the first 3, so a couple Place on both could be rewarding as well.

Place: Musir