Meydan World Cup Night Preview
While the UK Flat season kicks off with the Lincoln on Saturday, the richest night of racing on the planet takes centre stage at Meydan.
Godolphin have dominated the 2019 Meydan Carnival in the lead up to World Cup night and they have several live chances on the card, most notably Thunder Snow who bids to defend his crown after last year’s wide margin success.
Saeed Bin Suroor’s stable-star gave the trainer a record eighth success in 2018’s renewal of the race and while he’s a much shorter price this time around (3/1), he would appear to have a stiff task.
He finds himself at the head of the overnight international markets but it’s fair to say he’s had a rough preparation prior to this year’s renewal, suffering a hard race when third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic before a nine and a half-length second to Capezzano on his comeback run on Super Saturday.
A wide draw (12) will do him no favours and the aforementioned rival would appear to be a more attractive proposition at a slightly bigger price of 9/2.
Capezzano has transformed himself from a useful handicapper to a proven Group 1 performer this season for Salem bin Ghadayer and his dominance last time out could hardly have been more emphatic in the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3.
Both his gatespeed and his ability to act on the dirt at Meydan is a huge positive and while he won’t get an easy time of it on the front end with North America drawn next-door (3), he ought to be able to grab the rail and dictate the fractions. Clearly still improving and bringing the strongest form in to the race as far as this season is concerned, he probably deserves to be favourite in a renewal that lacks international depth.
The card is stacked with quality, as one might expect with $35 million prize money on offer throughout the day but several of the Group 1 races hardly appeal as betting heats.
It’s hard to make head nor tail of this year’s renewal of the Sheema Classic. Rey de Oro looks rock solid on this season’s form but there has to be a huge concern after his run in this race last year when a well beaten favourite.
Aidan O’Brien has stated this week that he’s expecting Magic Wand to improve as a four-year-old and while that’s worth noting, this may only be a starting point for the daughter of Galileo.
Old Persian is a three-time Group 2 winner and looks the most likely candidate to run his race but at 7/4 there’s little value in his odds in what is probably a race best watched from a betting perspective.
Almond Eye is a filly the world has its eyes on, and she’s been exceptional in her native Japan. Sakae Kunieda’s four-year-old looks set for an international campaign with the Arc her end of season target and the bookmakers have quite rightly continued to shorten her price throughout the weeks in the lead up to the race. While she can certainly be considered the most likely winner, any value in her price has gone at odds on.
There’s little doubt Godolphin hold a strong hand in the Dubai Gold Cup earlier on the card and while the top two in the market have solid enough claims for Charlie Appleby’s stable, Saeed Bin Suroor’s Team Talk could be considered an each-way poke at 40/1.
This is his first try at two miles and the son of Teofilo isn’t exactly bred to stay but several of the middle/long distance races have turned into a crawl throughout this season at Meydan and there’s a fair chance this may not be a true test of stamina.
The six-year-old has shaped well on a number of occasions this season and there’s no doubting he’s been unlucky in the run, including last time when left little-to-no room at a crucial stage.
If this does to into a dash for home at the top of the straight, his electric turn of foot (as seen when winning a Listed race at Lingfield a couple of years back) could prove a potent weapon and few ride this course as well as his Belgian jockey Christophe Soumillon.
While Cross Counter is a worthy favourite, there’s enough to like about Team Talk’s chance at a big price.
The Al Quoz Sprint is one of the strongest six-furlong races globally and Blue Point looks set to banish the memory of last year when withdrawn at the start. His chance has been well accounted for in the market and there’s not enough each-way value in the price of international contenders Brave Smash and Stormy Liberal who should be considered the main dangers.
Capazzano 9/2 - 1 point win (Meydan 4.40)
Team Talk 40/1 - 1 point each-way (Meydan 12.50)
1-5 point betting scale