Music to top the Charts
Man On The Spot provides an in-depth race-by-race guide to Thursday's UAE 1000 Guineas card at Meydan.
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15.15 GN Focus Handicap (AWT)
All bar the much-travelled Dorian Crown, a Group 2 winner in Russia, have had a recent run so there should be no fitness excuses. BLUE CORNER and Arthur's Tale represent Godolphin. The latter has disappointed since arriving from the USA but the former, a debut winner at the Curragh for Mick Halford, will have come on for his run behind stablemate Lajooj three weeks ago and is handed the vote. Mike De Kock struck form with a vengeance last week so expect a better show from Jardim though he's offered little encouragement so far and was a long way behind Ottoman Empire a couple of weeks ago when Dave Simcock's charge ran very well behind Bay Willow. Runner-up that day was Layali Al Andalus, who won here in December but is now 15lb higher. Muck 'N' Brass is better than we've seen to date as is Theo Danon, who will be having his first ever run on an artificial surface.
15.50 Meydan Classic Trial Sponsored By Weekend Review Conditions Stakes (Turf)
Hototo had a fine first season for Kevin Ryan, landing the Windsor Castle at Ascot and a valuable sales event at York. He ran well for a long way when last seen in the Middle Park and new connections went to 120,000 guineas to acquire him at the Newmarket sales. Luhaif only won once for Mick Channon but his close third behind Olympic Glory in Goodwood's Vintage Stakes makes him a formidable presence here and he'll be better for his recent run in the 2000 Guineas Trial. Godolphin's I'm Back, three times a winner in the UK last season, finished runner-up in that event with several of these behind but the one to take from the race and the selection here is EL ESTRUENDOSO, who was having his first start on the all-weather and hadn't run since scoring in South Africa last May. The superbly-bred Stasio is making his Turf debut but looked very promising when landing a Lingfield maiden in November.
16.25 UAE 1000 Guineas Sponsored By Gulf News Listed Stakes (Fillies' Listed) (AWT)
The trial for this is usually the best guide and MUSIC CHART beat another Godolphin filly Shuruq narrowly but comfortably enough three weeks ago. More Than Sotka, Mar Mar, My Special J'S and Daar Zayed were all well beaten and it's impossible to see any of the latter quartet turning the tables on the winner, who can complete the double. Go Angellika landed a Listed race at Salisbury in August but couldn't handle the step-up to Group 2 company later and though Pure Excellence won a Listed race for Mark Johnston at Newmarket she's yet to race on an artificial surface. A bigger threat may emerge in the shape of Emotif, an impressive maiden winner at Greyville last summer. Mike De Kock knows what it takes to win these classics and this filly arrives without a prep race so must be considered useful.
17.00 Classifieds Handicap (Turf)
Ahzeemah, a dual winner at Ascot last summer, made a very bright start here when narrowly beaten by Anatolian over 1m4f, staying on strongly at the finish. Star Empire, who was returning after a very long break, ran a fine race in third while the Indian champion In The Spotlight distinguished herself with a cracking run from the front. The progressive Certerach ran really well to finish fifth with several others in this field trailing. Today's longer trip shouldn't be a problem for any of the front quartet nor should it be for Pisco Sour, who was a couple of lengths behind today's rival Bay Willow on Tapeta two weeks ago. The winner was completing a double and is well treated back on Turf while November Handicap winner Art Scholar, who finished close up, would have been better suited by a stronger pace. The lightly-raced NOVELTY SEEKER caught the eye on his debut a fortnight ago and with the trip likely to suit he can take this from his lowly spot in the handicap.
17.35 Al Maktoum Challenge R2 Sponsored By Tabloid Stakes (Group 2) (AWT)
A tremendous line-up and Saeed Bin Suroor holds a very powerful hand with four entries. Hunter's Light is the highest rated of the quartet, which is hardly surprising as he ended the last campaign with a Group 1 success in Italy. He's never raced on this surface but is two from three on Polytrack. Mendip won this a year ago and his later defeats were at the highest level. He'd had a prep run last year but this time makes his reappearance. Prince Bishop was 4l behind Mendip a year ago but did better in Group 1's subsequently including when seventh in the World Cup. Alpha completes the quartet and dead-heated for a Grade 1 at Saratoga on Dirt in August. Godolphin are also represented by SAINT BAUDOLINO, a very smart performer for Andre Fabre last year with a Group 2 to his credit and two narrow defeats at the highest level. He can make a successful start to his career in Dubai. Await The Dawn hasn't run since finishing tailed off in the Dubai Duty Free last March when trained by Aidan O'Brien but will have been primed by Mike De Kock who also runs last week's winning handicapper Mushreq. Mufarrh always goes well here but Zain Shamardal has plenty to find against genuine high-class opposition.
18.10 Freehold Handicap (AWT)
Ariete Arrollador made a fine reappearance behind Lily's Angel, when the consistent Yaa Wayl was just behind, but missed the break when fancied last week and never got into the action. Kinglet won the 2000 Guineas here a year ago but wasn't suited when stepped up to 1m2f later and this is his trip. Jet Legend reappeared after a long break to start favourite two weeks ago but looked decidedly ring-rusty and can do much better though stablemate Royal Ridge looks ready to strike soon and should get into the frame. DON'T CALL ME made a promising debut over 7f on Turf here before another fine effort over a mile and in the hope that he handles the surface he's given the nod. Richard Hannon sends Producer for this but the four-year-old looks a bit high in the weights after his Group 3 success at Goodwood in August and he's only run once on Polytrack. Banna Boirche has run well enough in his two starts to date and he's a regular winner on Polytrack at Dundalk.