Follow the road to glory
Man On The Spot previews all of Thursday's action from the Dubai Carnival at Meydan.
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Godolphin's Winterlude is unbeaten in two starts on Polytrack and was impressive at Lingfield in October. The more exposed Tha'ir also represents the home team and he returned after a break to make most of the running over this trip on Turf and didn't fade until close home. SANSHAAWES had some smart placed form in Group company in South Africa and performed with credit on his reappearance following a very long break when a staying-on fourth behind Gabrial on Turf - he gets the vote in an open contest. Layali Al Andalus has been in good form though he has a bad habit of losing ground at the start. He finished just in front of Plantagenet over the track and trip last time but the latter, who has won from a higher mark here in the past, can take his revenge. Busker had Layali Al Andalus just over a length behind when scoring on Turf a fortnight ago but that race was run at a crawl. The globe-trotting Energia Davos has Group winning form to his credit in Brazil and was a bit unlucky in a Listed race at Lingfield in December. He caught the eye on his return to this track last month and should be kept on the right side.
This probably resolves around whether the southern hemisphere-bred pair LONG JOHN and Paximadia, both Group winners on Turf in Australia, take to the surface. The two Godolphin colts will be tuned up for a race which their owners love to win and the former, who appeared to find the 1m2f of the Cox Plate just too far after his earlier Group 1 victory, looks to have the strongest form. Their respective trainers are also represented by Emirates Flyer and Safety Check, who finished 1-2 in the trial for this a month ago when My Catch was a close-up third and Full Combat fifth. There's probably little between that quartet though the latter might improve enough to reverse positions. His trainer is also represented by the Yarmouth maiden winner Wednaan plus Jallota and Journeyman with Christophe Soumillon choosing the former.
Mike De Kock is responsible for five of the entries. Christophe Soumillon should have had the pick and has gone for the unbeaten Vercingetorix, the winner of all four starts in South Africa the latest being a Group 1 at Greyville in June. The stable's El Estruendoso just hasn't been lasting home and is 1lb worse off for his defeat by Gabrial over the course and distance three weeks ago when Tarbawi was close behind. Gale Force Ten landed the Jersey Stakes for Aidan O'Brien last summer and will be better for his recent debut for the De Kock operation. CODE OF HONOR started favourite on his return to action a month ago but never got serious. He had previously finished a short-head behind Educate in the Cambridgeshire where he was undoubtedly unfortunate - he can put that latest run behind him and take this. Forjatt landed a Group 3 last month though that was on Jebel Ali's Dirt surface but the Irish are enjoying an excellent Carnival so Captain Joy could build on his opening run three weeks ago.
Mars, a close sixth in the Epsom Derby before dropping back in trip and finishing third to Dawn Approach in the St James's Palace Stakes, has his first start for Mike De Kock after transferring from Aidan O'Brien. He made a winning debut on Polytrack at Dundalk so the Tapeta surface shouldn't be a problem. He's taken on by the brilliant South Africa-trained VARIETY CLUB, who had 19 starts and won 14 including the last eight. Joey Ramsden's regular Group 1 winner has his first run outside his native country but is expected to prove up to the task. Snowboarder was in excellent form here a year ago with four placed efforts including when runner-up to Soft Falling Rain in the 2000 Guineas on this day. He'll ensure the South African's don't have things their own way as will his stablemate Fulbright, a handicap winner here before missing the break in a Group 2. Haatheq almost snatched a shock victory from Soft Falling Rain in the Godolphin Mile on World Cup night in March but hasn't been in that kind of form at Jebel Ali recently.
Australian sprinters haven't always produced the goods on this Tapeta surface so Bello, though obviously a useful performer in his native country, may just take a while to get used to it. Complicate had a similar level of form in Australia and he needed the run on his debut here last month where he faded over the 7f trip. United Color was given a superb ride by James Doyle to capture a Listed sprint over the track and trip a month ago when Russian Soul was a neck behind, Rafeej close up in third, BALMONT MAST just behind in fourth followed closely by Krypton Factor. That was run in a slow time and any of the beaten horses could reverse the form so Edward Lynam's raider, who needed a much stronger pace, is handed the vote. Jamesie bounced back to form in what looked a tough handicap but faces better opposition so Tamaathul, a close fourth in the Golden Shaheen on World Cup night when just behind the selection and Krypton Factor, looks more of a threat.
SHEIKHZAYEDROAD had a very good campaign in the UK last summer and came here on his highest ever mark a month ago but stayed on strongly off a fast pace to score over 1m2f. He could be even better over this trip so is taken to complete the double though the Irish-trained Dabadiyan, who was a close fifth, is expected to make his presence felt as that was his first start since September. Songcraft landed a York Listed contest over 1m6f in May so this could prove on the short side. Topclas was in good form here a year ago and made a promising return to action behind Certerach last month with the disappointing Dormello behind. Vasily has joined Mike De Kock and looked in need of the run behind Gabrial last month so with that under his belt he's expected to go close. Meandre has been superbly placed to land four Group 1s in Germany and France and will have found 1m2f too short on his return to this track. He ran in the World Cup last year and should find this more to his liking.