Dubai World Cup preview: Favourites vulnerable to good-value outsiders

Mike de Kock's Sanshaawes offers good value at Meydan
Mike de Kock's Sanshaawes offers good value at Meydan

Timeform's Dubai expert, Stephen Molyneux, identifies two big-priced runners with good chances in the feature race...

To sum up, this looks a race in which to take a couple of the outsiders against what looks a vulnerable favourite

The 2014 Dubai World Cup looks wide open on paper, the race lacking a standout candidate, and, if we are being honest, it is far from a vintage renewal, particularly with no American representation.

The current favourite, and a clear one at that, is Ruler Of The World but his position at the head of affairs is largely down to the shortcomings of the rest rather than his own compelling claims. Yes, he is the 2013 Derby winner, and yes, he ran a great race in the Champion Stakes behind Farhh on his final start, but his Epsom victory didn't work out at all and it was soft ground at Ascot which brought his stamina into play, and there has to be a chance that he will be found wanting for a bit of speed here.

He is undoubtedly an intriguing runner, and there is certainly the prospect of further improvement to come this year, but there has to be a doubt as to whether it will come under these circumstances, so he looks opposable.

The lack of quality in the race is put into some perspective when Prince Bishop is considered by many to be a likely winner. Not in these quarters. Ok, so his clear affection for the surface has to count for something but is this seven-year-old really getting better? It's been more a case of him capitalising on the failings of others, in my opinion, in winning both his starts this season, and there are grounds for believing that either, or indeed both, Sanshaawes and African Story can reverse form with him granted a cleaner crack at things.

There are nagging stamina doubts hanging over African Story but he wasn't stopping over half a furlong shorter when just failing to reel in Prince Bishop in the second round of the Maktoum Challenge, a race he really should have won. He was set loads to do in relation to the enterprisingly-ridden winner, a fact not lost on punters when he was sent off at evens to reverse form in the third round. He was clearly disappointing, but I was down at the start for the race and seconds before the starter released them he fairly whacked himself on the stalls, something that surely must have contributed to his lacklustre performance.

Sanshaawes finished second in that race but he endured a fairly brutal trip in relation to the winner, the Trakus stats suggesting he covered 22m more than Prince Bishop. Whilst that sort of stat can't legislate for potential momentum loss it certainly didn't help his cause and he is one of those that heads into the race on the back of a progressive Carnival, something that can count for plenty come the big night. He has won two of his four starts for Mike de Kock, striking as the sort that only ever does enough, and whilst his form as it stands isn't good enough to be winning a Dubai World Cup, there is a bigger performance in him.

Surfer has gained a late entry and suffered a similarly wide trip when third, just behind Sanshaawes, in the third round of the Maktoum Challenge. He is a horse that has suffered notably with bad draws throughout his racing career in Dubai and whilst he may just lack a bit of class compared to some of these, he will at least give it his best shot.

The Hong Kong challenge is strong, not just in the World Cup but throughout the whole card, and there doesn't look a great deal between Military Attack and Akeed Mofeed. The latter won the 2013 Hong Kong Cup and had Military Attack back in fourth but Military Attack comfortably emerged on top when the pair met in this year's running of the Hong Kong Cup. Both seem best at this sort of trip and obviously command plenty of respect, acknowledging the surface will be something of an unknown.

Sir Michael Stoute remains the only British trainer to have won the Dubai World Cup and he will saddle Hillstar this year, a potential improver after just the 8 career starts to date. His sole victory last year came at the expense of Battle Of Marengo in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot, and he was far from disgraced subsequently, not beaten far by the likes of Novellist, Declaration Of War and Farhh. Those runs did expose his limitations to a degree, and he could probably do with further ideally, so he will need to improve if he is to win this.

Britain will also be represented in the form of Mukhadram who was another to finish behind Farhh when last seen. His placed efforts behind Al Kazeem earlier last season were particularly good runs and a positive aspect to his chance is that he may get his own way out in front. That tactical element will need to be in his favour as others can boast stronger form claims, but he is certainly no forlorn hope.

Japan gained an emotional success in the race back in 2011 with Victoire Pisa and they are doubly-represented this time with Belshazzar and Hokko Tarumae. The former won the Japan Cup Dirt last year and comes into the race on the back of a creditable third over 1m in the February Stakes. Arguably his very best form is over nine furlongs but he has seemed to stay as far as 11 furlongs in the past so the trip shouldn't be an issue.

It certainly won't be a problem for Hokko Tarumae who hasn't finished out of the first 3 since his debut. He was behind Belshazzar in the aforementioned Japan Cup Dirt but reversed form last time in the February Stakes, and there is clearly very little between the pair, Hokko Tarumae's consistency perhaps just edging it.

I suppose America can claim a runner of sorts, Ron The Greek now based in Saudi Arabia having spent most of his racing career stateside. His final start for Bill Mott saw him hammer Kentucky Derby-aspirant Palace Malice and he wasn't far off the likes of Game On Dude and Fort Larned prior to that. He has won under his new name of Wattani (but will race as Ron The Greek) in Saudi Arabia and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him go well.

To sum up, this looks a race in which to take a couple of the outsiders against what looks a vulnerable favourite. Sanshaawes and African Story fit the bill nicely, and can hopefully give us a run for our money.

RECOMMENDED BETS:

Back Sanshaawes win and place
Back African Story win and place

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