Richard Mann previews week two of the Dubai Carnival at Meydan with round one of the Al Maktoum Challenge featuring on a high-class card.
Recommended bets: Meydan, Thursday January 10
The Dubai Carnival enters its second week on Thursday with number one Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby still to get off the mark following a frustrating start to the meeting last week.
In contrast to 12 months ago, fellow Godolphin handler Saeed bin Suroor would appear to have his string fit and ready to go from the off and Bin Battuta's victory in the Carvinal curtain raiser - supplemented by Dream Castle's success later in the night - will ensure he is content with where his horses are at the present time.
Don't expect Applebly to be waiting too long to make his mark, though. As highlighted last week, Appleby is a wonderful training talent and the last year or so has seen him taste success at the Breeders' Cup, in the Epsom Derby and the Melbourne Cup.
Appleby has some typically strong chances on Thursday but none are more interesting than Gold Town who makes his first start in almost a year when reappearing in round one of the Al Maktoum Challenge (1650).
The son of Street Cry was no great shakes on turf but looked something potentially very special when winning his first two starts on dirt here last year, the latter coming when landing the UAE 2000 Guineas with a breathtaking display.
The world looked to be his oyster at that point, with the Kentucky Derby being mooted as a potential target, but he faded tamely when trailing home fourth behind Mendelssohn in the UAE Derby on his next outing with Appleby stating more recently that the 1m1½f trip stretched his stamina reserves too far on that occasion.
He returns at a mile now, the same trip over which he dominated a fair field in the UAE Guineas, and given the favourable reports about his well-being in recent weeks, he looks worth a bet at 15/2 despite stall number eight being a potential negative.
In opposition, last year's winner Heavy Metal reopposes with old foe North America but the former is at his best when able to dominate from the front and stall seven might mean he has to work hard to earn that right, while stall two might not be ideal for the latter who isn't always the quickest away and could easily find himself shuffled back if not breaking well.
All in all, a fascinating renewal in prospect but given the likes of Heavy Metal and North America are entering the twilight of their careers, I'm happy to bet that the exciting Gold Town can improve past them and confirm the immense promise he displayed last season.
Earlier on the card, Godolphin are responsible for another high-profile performer as Royal Marine makes his first start since winning the Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere when lining up in the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial (1540).
Bin Suroor's charge displayed a terrific attitude when scoring at Longchamp and looks to possess many of the traits required to make a successful transition to dirt; a strong-travelling, forward-going sort who stays well and gives generously under pressure.
Like his stablemate Thunder Snow last year, he is another exciting addition to the dirt division but 10/11 for Thursday's race is plenty short enough and I'm happy to watch this one with interest.
A straight six furlongs and a strong pace to chase should suit Glenamoy Lad down to the ground in the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi World Class Healthcare Cup (1615) and he ought to pick up some decent prize money here in the coming weeks.
A tardy start left him with no chance at Wolverhampton last time but his record on a straight track, most notably at Newcastle, is seriously good and he looked potentially Group class when winning on Tyneside two starts back.
A smooth traveller who likes to come through horses, Glenamoy Lad does need things to drop right but should be suited by the make-up of the fiercely-competitive sprint handicaps out here and is one to watch, if not one to bet first time up.
One who does make the portfolio is Trolius who appeals as a very smart performer in the making and bids to preserve his unbeaten record in the opening Dubai Trophy at 1505.
Simon Crisford's son of Cape Cross has raced exclusively on the all-weather so far but is certainly bred to be as good on turf and has done nothing but impress in his short career to date, winning at Wolverhampton and Newcastle before returning to Dunstall Park to dead-heat with the exciting Felix The Poet over an extended mile.
He looked to be in front far too early on that occasion, sweeping into the lead with two furlongs to run only to tie up close home - the concession of 2lb to Felix The Poet making his task harder still - and I strongly suspect he is a good deal better than that bare form.
A winner over this 7f trip on debut, he should be much happier returned to this distance and though stall 14 is a negative, the booking of the excellent Chris Hayes is most certainly not, and he can be trusted to navigate a safe passage.
Reports from Newmarket about Trolius have always been glowing and quotes of 10/1 make plenty of appeal.
Posted at 1715 GMT on 09/01/19