Stephen Molyneux's Dubai Carnival Analysis

Stephen has selections and analysis online for the ninth night of the Dubai World Cup Carnival - live on Sky Sports Racing - where the Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy is the card's highlight.

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Published 10:25

Just one more week of the Carnival to go ahead of Super Saturday and the headline horse is undoubtedly Spanish Mission who goes in the Nad Al Sheba Trophy, a Group 3 contest due off at 16:50.

He shipped in last week along side Desert Encounter who, it must be said, was very disappointing behind Ghaiyyath but that effort shouldn’t be used against Spanish Mission who has far more upside.

Progressive throughout 2019, the form of his Bahrain Trophy win at the expense of Nayef Road stood the test of time and even his win in Belmont, albeit a narrow one, has been franked with the runner-up, Pedro Cara, successful in Qatar in December when beating Bangkok. He is the one to beat, particularly with his rivals having little scope to be better than handicappers.

Secret Advisor won here a few weeks ago, getting back on track having landed the Melrose back in 2017, things not exactly going swimmingly in the interim. He could go on again now back on track but there have been too many disappointments along the way, similar comments applying to Dubhe who essentially beat trees when victorious at the last Carnival.

I would take him to improve past Secret Advisor from that reappearance effort when the best part of two lengths behind but whether that is enough to beat Spanish Mission is another matter.

The thoroughbred action kicks of at 15:05 and Well Of Wisdom can kickstart another good day for Charlie Appleby. He was the best of these, and perhaps by some margin, as a juvenile with his standout effort being a second placing to Earthlight.

There wasn’t much evidence of that form in the trial for this but he was keen and forced wide so, there is the potential to step up a good deal on that run. He is priced accordingly, and those looking for something at a bigger price could do worse than Hamama who was ahead of Well Of Wisdom last time.

She is still a maiden, and the stable continue to struggle for winners, but her best two runs have now come on the turf and it wouldn’t be surprised if she got a piece of the action.

Watch night ninth of the Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan live on Sky Sports Racing (Sky 415 | Virgin 535) on Thursday 27th February.

There are two divisions of a 10f handicap on the grass, the first of them coming at 15:40 with Appleby again boasting a strong hand courtesy of Lucius Tiberius and Star Safari. The latter has only had the three starts and the form of his maiden win at Nottingham, albeit back in 2018, is strong with the second and third both winning their next two outings.

Indeed, Surfman was thought good enough to run in the Dante and although Star Safari has only the one start himself since, that did come in a Listed race and, having been gelded, is being persevered with by top connections.

He looks the first string with William Buick unable to do the weight. There are dangers, though, Franz Kafka well capable of bouncing back to the sort of form that saw him win on his reappearance and Majestic Mambo continues to threaten a bigger performance, this looking one of his easiest assignments of the Carnival.

Charlie Appleby also saddles a lightly-raced potential improver in the second division due off at 18:35, his VELORUM gets the nod in this. Not seen since the Britannia, Velorum had won his previous two starts, beating a subsequent dual winner at Yarmouth in May and the extra experience of Royal Ascot should stand him in good stead.

Stable mate On The Warpath is feared greatly, but he has had his issues since arriving in Dubai and could help set things up for the selection given his no nonsense style of racing.

Watch night ninth of the Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan live on Sky Sports Racing (Sky 415 | Virgin 535) on Thursday 27th February.

Back in time to the 16:15 and FIGHT ON is one of two Doug O’Neill runners on the card that I fancy to go well in the dirt handicaps. He was behind Plata O Plomo on his penultimate start but probably made his move sooner than ideal on that occasion and then faced little chance behind Capezzano in a Group 3.

William Buick is now on board, a jockey that doesn’t get the credit he deserves for being an excellent dirt rider and he should get a ground-saving ride round from stall 2. The market leader, Behavioral Bias looks a doubtful stayer and there isn’t a great deal to worry about elsewhere so he should go well.

PARSIMONY is the other O’Neill runner and he goes in the Curlin Handicap at 17:25. Buick again takes over on this one and he paid the price for going off quite hard on his reappearance before fading into fourth behind the reopposing George Villiers. He has been given time to get over that and connections, despite his rating of just 100, have repeatedly mentioned how they felt this could be the horse that progresses into a World Cup slot.

Time is obviously running thin for that to happen but he looked a well handicapped horse last time and can hopefully prove the point here.

The final race to look at it is a 10f handicap at 18:00 and American Graffiti heads the way here having beaten a couple of these last time. He is progressive enough to be able to defy a 4lb rise but I wouldn’t be surprised if Simsir threw down a stronger challenge this time.

Being a big horse I never felt stall 1 and a rail run was going to be ideal last time and he duly struggled for momentum at crucial stages. He looks as though he will be best coming with one sustained run down the outside of the track and that should happen from stall 6.

Again, though, he has been well found in the market given he is just a point bigger than a horse that beat him comfortably enough last time. 

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