Timeform's Dubai Handicapper, Stephen Molyneux, picks out four bets on Thursday's card.
The opening handicap at 15:15 isn't a strong race and it provides Layali Al Andalus with a good opportunity to make amends for an unlucky defeat last time. He has looked as good as ever this year, winning at Meydan in December before shaping well in better events the last twice, only just failing to reel in Bay Willow last time who very much got the run of things out in front. There is a potential lack of pace in this as well, Universal the only front-runner that I can see and he is worth saving on given he should be a big price as he hasn't shown a great deal in 2 starts this year. He hasn't been able to get to the front, however, this race also far weaker and it wouldn't be at all surprising if he were able to dictate under Kieran Fallon, and he showed last year how dangerous he can be in such a scenario.
It's been said before and I will say it again, the races for the classic generation at the Carnival are notoriously weak and the Meydan Classic Trial at 15:50 is no different. There is a standout candidate in the form of I'm Back, who shaped well when second to Soft Falling Rain (a Grade 1 winner in South Africa) last time, and there certainly isn't anything of that one's calibre in here. He did plenty of early running from stall 14 to race prominently that day, comfortably put in place in the end but encouragingly he in turn finished nicely clear of the remainder, several of whom reoppose today. His main rival on the ratings is Hototo but he looked very much a sprinter for Kevin Ryan last year and will do well to stay 7f, his presence at least likely to ensure that I'm Back is a reasonable price.
The second round of the Maktoum Challenge at 17:35 has attracted a quality field, fully deserving of its Group 2 status, and I am going to side with Mufarrh who looks to be working his way back gradually and should be a good price considering he is the perceived second-string on jockey bookings. Paul Hanagan has chosen to ride Mushreq, understandably so given the style of his win last week, but Mufarrh is a classy horse in his own right, as he proved when finishing second to Skysurfers in the Godolphin Mile back in 2011. He's only had the 2 starts since then, needing his reappearance when third behind Tamaathul over an inadequate 7f before offering much more when fifth to Barbecue Eddie last time, left with loads to do but catching the eye come the finish. His only previous run over this trip resulted in a four-and-a-half length victory and he is worth supporting to get the better of some more exalted rivals.
Timeform Dubai Smartplays
Back Layali Al Andalus and Universal in the 15:15
Back I'm Back in the 15:50
Back Mufarrh win and place in the 17:35