Betfair Ambassador Ryan Moore returns with his first column of the new Flat season with a fascinating insight into his eight booked rides at Meydan on what promises to be a stunning day of racing, culminating in the richest race in the world, the Dubai World Cup...
18:05 Meydan - Hillstar
"He is drawn ok in seven, looks really well, and is moving great. He travelled over well, and gave me a real good feel when having a spin on the surface on Thursday morning."
13:10 Meydan - Mull Of Killough
In common with a lot of races on Dubai World Cup night, this looks very open, but Mull Of Killough is right up there on official ratings and has a definite each-way chance if taking to the surface. He is getting on a bit now but he ran really well in decent 1m/1m1f handicaps in Australia at the back-end of last season, and proved himself a very smart 1m-1m2f horse in the UK last summer, when among a string of good efforts he won the Earl Of Sefton first time up. And he does go well when fresh.
There is a lot of pace in here - I counted four front-runners - and that should suit him as well, though being drawn in 11 is not ideal. He led Dank and Hillstar in a recent gallop at Great Leighs, and bowled along nicely for Jamie, though he didn't do anything too strenuous. You have to respect the first and second in the trial, Shuruq and Variety Club, but the one who would make them all go in this if coming back to form is Soft Falling Rain.
13:45 Meydan - Joshua Tree
I think Cavalryman is a very worthy favourite, as I was particularly impressed with his wide-margin success in a Group 3 over 1m6f last time where I rode Simenon to finish fifth. I would expect Simenon to have come on a lot for that run and get much closer today, but I ride Joshua Tree, who I obviously know equally well, having won a Kergorlay and a Canadian International on.
He didn't cut much ice in the Japan Cup but he ran a very satisfactory prep for this over a clearly inadequate trip when fifth to Prince Bishop in a Group 1 here over 1m2f earlier in the month. Again, he has place claims in an open race, but Cavalryman looks the one to beat to me, though I suppose there is a danger that he did it too well last time and left his big effort there.
14:25 Meydan - Giovanni Boldini
Proved himself a high-class 2yo last season with three good efforts in Ireland but obviously his stand-out performance was his narrow second in the Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita, where we got collared late on. If he handles this surface - and the fact that he has won at Dundalk is encouraging on that front - then he has to go well, but I must say that few horses have impressed me out in Dubai this winter more than Long John.
I think Giovanni Boldini would be good enough to win any of the previous runnings of this race but we may have our work cut out to beat Long John, who is proven on the surface, if he is as good as he looked last time. I am drawn just on the outside of that horse in five, which is fine, and I think the race looks between the two of us.
15:03 Meydan - Sole Power
Was fourth to Shea Shea in this race last year and I would imagine that the winner is a strong favourite here. But my horse beat him in the King's Stand at Ascot and will have come on for his fourth here to that same rival earlier in the month, where I rode him for the first time and was very happy with the performance. He is another of mine with an each-way chance, but the favourite looks very solid and Amber Sky deserves a lot of respect too.
In fact, Amber Sky is the one I like in here. He looks a seriously talented weapon and is nigh-on unbeatable over 5f on the straight track at Sha Tin. He will make all these go over on this straight 5f. I'm happy enough with stall two, though I don't know how the draw will pan out after the rain and ideally I would have liked to be drawn nearer Amber Sky in truth, so I could sit on his tail, especially with Shea Shea in 12.
15:41 Meydan - Balmont Mast
This is probably the worst Golden Shaheen I have seen, and it is the poorest race of the night. Balmost Mast is another horse who I rode for the first time here last month, when he finished an encouraging fifth. Finished a close second in this race last season, so obviously cannot be discounted - and he looks well drawn in two, and wears cheekpieces for the first time I believe - but there does look to be others in here with stronger claims, chief among them Rich Tapestry and Sterling City.
That said, I rode Rich Tapestry in Hong Kong in December and he is no star, maybe a solid Group 2/3 horse, and he got the run of the race to an extent when winning here last time. And Sterling City doesn't look exceptional either and maybe could be better suited to 7f. I think a place could be the best I can hope for, but I am happy to be proved wrong - and this race could be ripe for a shock, as I think the front two in the betting are very beatable.
16:39 Meydan - Dank
About a week ago I thought I would be first or second in this, but this race has got a lot of depth to it all of a sudden. Dank proved a star for us last season, but we just about got away with it in the Filly & Mare Turf at the Breeders' Cup as I think she was feeling the effects of a long season there. But her class and courage saw her prevail, and she comes into this race in real good order, and I liked the way she went at Great Leighs recently.
But this is probably one of the strongest Duty Free's in recent years, with The Fugue re-routed here, and there are any number of other dangers. Put it this way, any horse that can beat Gentildonna by four lengths has to be given the greatest of respect in any company - and that is what Just A Way did last season. He is the best horse in here, make no mistake, but he sometimes finds it hard to switch off and settle in his races.
Tokei Halo missed the kick on his most recent start but he is a very talented horse when going from the front. A point of interest here is that the fillies and mares get 4.4lb (2kg) instead of the 3lb they would get if this race was in Europe, so that is something to consider. It does look a very hot race, and being drawn in 10 is not ideal, but I'll be disappointed if I am not in the first three.
17:17 Meydan - Gentildonna
Magician obviously gave me one of my better days in the saddle when winning the Breeders Cup Turf in November and has always been a horse with gears that I have rated from day one. He is the one to beat here on pure talent, of that I am pretty certain. But Gentildonna obviously won me a Japan Cup last November and I am happy to be on her. I would have thought that they would have left a fair bit to work on when she was sixth last month - I hope so anyway - and I think you will see her true form today. And she does have that handy extra weight allowance that I mentioned earlier.
It won't be easy - apart from Magician, you would have to respect Cirrus Des Aigles on his Ascot form and Gentildonna only beat Denim And Ruby a nose in the Japan Cup, and I am drawn 12 - but my mount finished a good second to St Nicholas Abbey in this last season and can hopefully go one better. But Magician is the one that we all have to fear, if he brings his A-game to the party.
18:05 Meydan - Hillstar
He clearly needs to improve to win this, but perhaps by only as little as 5lb and that is by no means impossible. And, with all due respect, this race does lack a stand-out performer going into it.
Hillstar was slightly disappointing on his last two starts, but he is a Royal Ascot winner and King George third who has done well over the winter. He is drawn ok in seven, looks really well, and is moving great. He travelled over well, and gave me a real good feel when having a spin on the surface on Thursday morning. So he comes into this in good form, and a strongly-run race over 1m2f should suit ok - though he probably needs 1m4f, in truth - and if he takes to the surface who knows?
The same applies to a few of these but Ruler Of The World, who I obviously know well, is probably the one to beat in a race where you can give about 10 of these a decent shot. In fact, with 16 runners, this promises be a real mess of a race and you will need a lot of luck in running.
Military Attack was visually very impressive when winning the Hong Kong Gold Cup last time but I think the race may have fallen apart a bit and he may not be as good as he looked there. But he clearly has to be respected and the fact that he won at Ascot when trained by John Hills gives you encouragement that he will handle the Tapeta, as I think there is a lot of crossover between the two surfaces.
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