Round Two of the Al Maktoum Challenge is the feature race on Thursday’s Carnival card with support from some typically competitive handicaps.
North America put up a dominant display when winning Round One of the Al Maktoum Challenge and he’s going to be hard to beat if he turns up in the same form or better in Round Two (4.50) on Thursday.
The seven-year-old gave the impression in the preliminaries he would come on for his run last time when seemingly carrying a sizable amount of excess weight compared to how he looked last year., Bhupat Seemar, assistant to Satish Seemar, had reported as much in the build up to the race saying, “He’s going to improve for the run and is better over further”.
His starting price of 6/1 hinted that there was a general belief that would be the case and he will prove a formidable opponent in a small field he’s expected to dominate.
While his chance is rock solid, it’s a case of “odds-on, watch-on” with his price at around 1/4 Fav at time of writing.
Earlier on the card, it’s a similar story in the UAE 2,000 Guineas (3.40) with several unexposed types/dirt debutantes taking on a rock-solid contender in Walking Thunder. He made light work of the trial for this race in the second week of the Carnival, landing a second course and distance success and the unbeaten son of Violence is a worthy favourite, despite his cramped odds.
The turf handicaps on the card are more competitive fare and it would be no surprise to see Nordic Lights come out on top in the Al Naboodah Travel Handicap (4.15).
The four-year-old was earmarked for the Epsom Derby last year before a disappointing run when very well backed for the Dante at York. He was then gelded prior to his run on night three at the Carnival last month, finishing a creditable second having set an unsustainable gallop.
He remains on a workable handicap mark after that run and Earnshaw who runs earlier on the card, did the form no harm last week with an eye-catching fourth in a more competitive heat. There’s every chance he’s a Group horse lurking in a handicap here and the son of Intello should continue to progress on just his sixth career start. He’s the standout candidate, available to back at 3/1.
Nordic Lights – Meydan 4.15
1 Point win – 3/1
1-5 Point Betting Scale