The Dubai Carnival gets underway on Thursday and Richard Mann is on hand with the first of his weekly previews of the Meydan action.
Recommended bets: Meydan January 2
The Dubai Carnival kicks off with a cracking card at Meydan on Thursday with Hunt Cup hero Settle For Bay making his first start since that Royal Ascot success in the Group Three Singspiel Stakes Presented By Longines V H P Collection at 16.50.
Trainer David Marnane has a terrific record at this meeting over the years with the likes of Elleval and Nocturnal Affair two of a number of a horses he has brought over to earn some of the fantastic prize money on offer in the Dubai desert.
As a five-year-old and with only seven turf starts to his name, Settle For Bay should be reaching the peak of his powers now and it is no exaggeration to suggest this could be a Group One performer in the making.
His reappearance will be watched with interest, as will that of Hit The Bid in the Longines Ladies Record Collection Handicap at 15.00.
The latter - another raider from the Emerald Isle - proved a real moneyspinner for connections at this meeting last year, picking up 78k for landing a handicap over this course and distance having pushed to brilliant Ertijaal close on his first start of that winter four weeks previously.
All speed, Hit The Bid still doesn't appear too badly treated off 110 and should be able to make his mark in the coming weeks, though I'm happy to let him go unbacked on this occasion with Faatinah sure to be a strong stayer at this minimum trip and more than capable of picking up the pieces late on.
One who does look worth a bet is Aurum in the the concluding Longines Master Collection Moon Phase Handicap 17.25.
Charlie Appleby swept all before him last year, enjoying sustained success at this meeting before saddling Masar to win the Investec Derby, Line Of Duty to score at the Breeders' Cup and then watching on as Cross Counter capped a near perfect 12 months with victory in the Melbourne Cup.
Make no mistake, Appleby is a brilliant trainer - one for all occasions - but it is Sheikh Mohammed who pays the bills at Godolphin and as a result, Appleby and Saeed bin Suroor can always be relied upon to have their horses primed by the time the Carnival comes around.
In Aurum, Appleby looks to have another smart prospect, one who has been given time but should have plenty more to offer and now goes handicapping from a workable opening mark.
Unraced as a juvenile, the son of Exceed And Excel looked very good when making a winning debut at Newmarket back in the spring before turning in solid efforts in Listed company in his two subsequent appearances.
He had some classy opposition in behind when second on his most recent start, this time at Epsom in early June, when finishing full of running, and with a mark of exactly 100, it looks significant that Appleby put him away after that run with a Meydan campaign presumably on the agenda ever since.
The fact this four-year-old remains a colt might also be significant, and don't be surprised if he uses this handicap as a stepping stone to bigger and better things this winter and beyond.
Kicking off the card, the Longines Gents Record Collection Handicap (14.30) gives Appleby another chance of success with Ispolini.
This son of Dubawi has been gelded following a turf campaign in the UK that saw him mixing it with the likes of Sevenna Star and Young Rascal and his handicap mark of 105 doesn't appear to harsh on those aforementioned efforts.
Armed with a low draw and with James Doyle back in the saddle, he makes obvious appeal for all quotes of 15/8 and lower might be enough to stop many from getting stuck in.