Dubai Carnival Horses To Watch: From West To East

International Analyst Mark Milligan highlights five horses worth following at the 2018 Dubai Carnival at Meydan.

Dubai Carnival Horses To Watch: From West To East

International Analyst Mark Milligan highlights five horses worth following at the 2018 Dubai Carnival at Meydan.

The Dubai World Cup Carnival got underway on Thursday, and the opening night didn’t fail to disappoint, showcasing exciting performances from Carnival regulars Ertijaal Horseform and Heavy Metal Horseform, along with Meydan newcomer Benbatl Horseform, who produced a very smart effort for Godolphin. International flat racing fans will be well catered for over the next ten weeks or so; we take a look at five horses well worth keeping an eye on as the meeting develops.

Ertijaal Picture:Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images

Al Sahem – Mike de Kock

As usual, Mike de Kock will be strongly represented at the Carnival, for all that his number of representatives is a little down on recent years. One of his most interesting inmates this year looks to be the 2017 SA Derby winner Al Sahem Horseform. Trained then by Sean Tarry, Al Sahem will be running for de Kock for the first time at the Carnival, and looks sure to find improvement on his previous form. His last run came when second in the Durban July at Greyville and he should make an impact in the better turf races.

Canndera – Alain de Royer Dupre

Heavy Metal
Heavy Metal Picture:Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images

While stable companion Vazirabad will be targeting a hat-trick in the Dubai Gold Cup on the big night itself, the unexposed staying filly Canndera Horseform may well go about making a name for herself beforehand. A winner over 12f and 14f in France, including in Listed company, the well-bred sister to Group 2 winner Candarliya should be more than capable of taking advantage of a handicap mark of 98, if that is the way her shrewd trainer chooses to go. She ought to prove much better than that in time, and it would be no surprise were she to line up alongside her stablemate in the Gold Cup itself, granted natural progression.

Kimbear – Doug Watson

Top local trainer Doug Watson knows the time of day more than most on the Meydan dirt, and he looks to have a good addition to his team in the shape of the ex-US-trained Kimbear Horseform. A winner at Santa Anita in February last year, and already placed in Graded company , Kimbear is effective from 7f to 9f, and starts life off what looks a very fair mark of 104. He should make an impact in handicaps before potentially progressing back through the ranks into better contests.

Rayya – Doug Watson

While it’s hard to quantify exactly what Rayya Horseform achieved when winning on her debut at Meydan in December, the visual impression she created that day was most impressive. Showing plenty of tactical speed, and travelling fluently, she simply stormed clear once taking the lead at the top of the straight, passing the post nearly ten lengths clear of runner-up Sa’ada. Doug Watson handled the impressive UAE 1000 Guineas and Oaks winner Polar River last year, and he looks to have another in that mould here.

West Coast – Bob Baffert

The Dubai World Cup itself is a bit of a confused picture at this early stage, but the long-term fancy at the moment is West Coast. Slated to run in the Pegasus at Gulfstream towards the end of this month, Bob Baffert’s Breeders’ Cup Classic third should find plenty of improvement from three to four. With Gun Runner set to retire after the Pegasus, the way could be set for West Coast to dominate the US middle-distance scene from spring onwards. He may have to reverse form with stable companion Collected should he also take his place in the World Cup field, but such was West Coast’s progression last year that he looks well placed to do that, the Classic itself likely to have aided his development in that regard.

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