Richard Mann's Meydan preview & tips including First Nation and Divine Image

Check out the latest tips for Meydan's Dubai Carnival
Check out the latest tips for Meydan's Dubai Carnival

The Group Two Zabeel Mile features on a high-class card at Meydan on Thursday where Richard Mann has three bets picked out.


Recommended bets: Dubai Carnival

3pts win Divine Image in 16.15 at Meydan at 7/4

2pts win First Nation in 15.40 at Meydan at 2/1

1pt win Ekhtiyaar in 15.05 at Meydan 6/1

For details of advised bookmakers and each-way terms, visit our transparent tipping record


All eyes will be on Silva as she bids to complete the UAE 1000 Guineas and UAE Oaks double on Thursday but I strongly fancy the chances of DIVINE IMAGE to reverse that Guineas form and exact her revenge.

On the face of it, Divine Image has a mountain to climb to overturn that 9 3/4-length defeat by Silva, who ran out a deeply impressive winner for trainer Pia Brandt and jockey Oisin Murphy.

The French raider is clearly very smart and should have plenty more to offer, but there is no doubting that, unlike Divine Image, she enjoyed a near-perfect trip in the Guineas, a luxury unlikely to be afforded to her this time around having been drawn out in stall 10.

Another slight question mark surrounding Silva is this longer trip. For all that she is a previous winner over an extended nine furlongs at Deauville, that came on polytrack whereas the Meydan dirt is notoriously testing and could well sap the stamina reserves of this daughter of Kodiac.

Clearly, while she's very good there are reasons to be slightly cautious about her credentials on this occasions while the opposite can be said of Divine Image.

Charlie Appleby's Scat Daddy filly missed the kick badly in the Guineas, immediately putting William Buick on the back foot, and the pair faced a torrent of kickback as they tried in vain to fight their way back into contention.

As Silva was travelling smoothly and into clear sailing in the front rank, Divine Image was still well off the pace when they turned for home but stuck to her task willingly before finishing her race off strongly when eventually in the clear in the final furlong.

It isn't exaggerating the point to say that Divine Image produced a remarkable performance to finish second and given their respective draws this time around - Divine Image will break from stall four - there is every chance that Silva will be the one having to fight to claim a decent early pitch on this occasion.

As we have seen all winter, gaining a prominent early position on the Meydan dirt track is absolutely key, making up ground from the rear an almost impossible task unless the early pace falls apart dramatically, and I'm convinced that we will see the real Divine Image in the Oaks.

The fact that she was sent off a warm order (6/4 favourite) for the Guineas tells you plenty about the regard in which she is held by connections, as well as the manner of her striking introduction at Chelmsford in December.

She is having to learn the game fast but the tribulations faced on her Meydan debut will have taught her plenty and there should be considerable improvement to come from a twice-raced filly who can be expected to be much more streetwise on Thursday.

Appleby could well be smiling 35 minutes earlier as FIRST NATION helps form a strong hand for the stable in the Group Three Dubai Millennium Stakes.

Another typically late-maturing son of Dubawi, First Nation produced a smart performance when landing a valuable handicap on his Meydan debut last month and he looks ready for this step up in class.

Having been waited with in the early stages, First Nation cruised through his race before putting distance between himself and Nordic Lights back in second, form which was given a nice boost when the latter went one better three weeks later.

With stablemate Spotify in here to ensure he gets a good pace to aim at again, First Nation, the pick of stable jockey William Buick, looks to have plenty going for him and he is fancied to improve past recent Al Rashidiya third Racing History.

The feature race on the card, the Zabeel Mile, looks a no bet race to me but the Land Rover Discovery Handicap sees EKHTIYAAR make only his second start for trainer Doug Watson and I can't resist a play on this talented operator.

The son of Bated Breath was well regarded when in the care of Roger Varian and won a pair of competitive Newmarket handicaps in 2017, most notably a historically strong six-furlong three-year-old sprint at the July meeting.

Although things didn't quite work out for him in the UK subsequently, he still doesn't have many miles on the clock and made an encouraging debut for the Watson stable here last month, finishing third over seven furlongs.

Watson is a terrific handler, one who can rejuvenate the weariest of warriors, so he will no doubt be thrilled to get his hands on a relatively young sprinter like this, one who has some very smart form already in he book and who he proclaimed to 'love' in a recent attheraces.com stable tour.

The drop back to six furlongs should prove absolutely ideal for Ekhtiyaar and having passed up the chance to ride him last time, Jim Crowley - who partnered him to win the aforementioned Newmarket contest - returns to the saddle.

At five years of age, he remains a sprinter with considerable potential and having the pacey Love Dreams drawn next door should ensure he gets a lovely tow into the race.

Posted at 1630 GMT on 20/02/19.


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