Snow the right favourite to Thunder home in feature
The Meydan Carnival continues its winding road towards Dubai World Cup Night with a seven-race programme on Thursday. The feature race is Round 2 of the Al Maktoum Challenge, due to be run at 16:50.
The race is generally used as a stepping stone for the locals who have aspirations of pointing towards the big race on March 31. Heavy Metal is towards the head of our market and was a very impressive winner of Round 1 when beating Thunder Snow and North America readily when sent off a really well backed 13/8 favourite over a mile.
However, in my opinion, there are multiple reasons to be against him here. First, he has never run beyond a mile in the UAE and I very much doubt if he can stay well enough to hold off classier rivals who already have the proven stamina over this sort of trip. Secondly, the pace makeup of Round 1 was extremely favourable once North America missed the start badly and rightly, Mickael Barzalona took fully advantage by getting a breather into Heavy Metal before putting the race to bed at the top of the straight.
North America re-opposing and now drawn inside Heavy Metal means it will be very interesting to see how fast Barzalona is forced to go to secure the lead. I don't think he can get away with fractions that allow him to win.
Thunder Snow fully deserves to be favourite in the race as he is already proven over CD when winning the UAE derby, was classy enough to run with the best 3yos in Britain and Ireland last year and his reappearance in Round 1 looked like a good prep and I expect a much better showing in this race. He is entirely deserving of favouritism and should be hard to beat, anything at 3.02/1 or above would appeal as a solid betting proposition.
At likely bigger odds, I expect a fair run from Furia Cruzada who won this race last year. She is reportedly working really well and likely aimed at this race for some time, I would want 25/1 or bigger to bet but the race looks likely to set up really well for her so a saver is recommended if the price allows.
Reynaldo and Catch the two for the sprint
The Al Shindaga Sprint is usually a pointer for the Golden Shaheen and on Thursday we have a decent renewal at 15:40.
Muarrab is a fully deserved favourite in here but can't be supported with confidence as he has blown easier chances in the recent past. I don't like Comicas as I think he is totally reliant on a pace meltdown here and has to carry a 2lb penalty for his G3 win last time out.
My Catch is very interesting from stall one and is reported by Doug Watson to be in as good a shape as he has been for some time. If he gets away well from the one post, he should make them all go and I think he is fair value at 6.05/1 or bigger.
The 12-year-old Reynaldothewizard also appeals as I thought he ran a remarkable race to get within 2l of Comicas last time when he was inconvenienced at the start and did really well to get as close as he did. He will need to break quicker here but if he is able to hang on to them in the early running, I can see him running really well at I would want to be keeping him onside at around the 6.05/1 mark too.
Switch to sand a plus for Montsarrat
The second race on the card at 15:05 is a non-carnival dirt handicap over 9.5f.
Montsarrat for the all-conquering Saleem Bin Ghadayer reverts to the sand after a fair turf effort last time where he shaped better than his finishing position over 10f. He is ideally housed in stall one and should be able to secure the lead under Barzalona, if he does, he will likely take some pegging back.
At 5.04/1 or bigger, he appeals as a very solid bet with many of the opposition vulnerable for one reason or another.