The Duke’s Weekend Preview – Dubai World Cup

This weekend is a fairly quiet one from a domestic perspective, with ITV4 broadcasting some fairly moderate stuff from Musselburgh and Haydock.

We’ll start then by concentrating on the action at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai. I’ll be there for the long racecard and I’m really looking forward to the biggest race of all in these parts, the Dubai World Cup. The favourite is West Coast for US trainer Bob Baffert.

In the absence of stars like California Chrome, Arrogate and Gun Runner, West Coast has assumed the mantle of the horse to beat on dirt. He was a stylish winner of the Travers Stakes last year before coming up a little short in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (3rd) and the Pegasus World Cup (2nd). He’s a best priced Even-Money and given that there is probably more to come from him this season given the stable he hails from, he is firmly the one to beat.

Godolphin will be desperate to win the race, as usual, so it is quite interesting that they add Talismanic, a horse who has never raced on dirt, to the line-up.

Thunder Snow was quite a long way behind North America in Round 3 of the Al Maktoum Challenge, so they’ve thrown Talismanic in the deep end for his dirt debut. Talismanic is a high-quality horse and certainly on his sire’s side of the pedigree there’s a decent chance he could take to the surface. He won the Breeders’ Cup Turf in November and followed that up with a really solid runner-up effort in the Hong Kong Vase, so he knows how to travel the world and perform in these big races.

Gunnevera is quite an interesting one if the pace of the race breaks down, as he is a hold-up horse. At Meydan, you very much want to be up with the pace in most dirt races, but if there was to be a surprise because those at the front kicked on too early, he could pick up the pieces. Forever Unbridled is a solid mare and she gets a small allowance which could help her chances.

So who to pick – do I think West Coast is an Even-Money shot? No. Do I think he has the best chance of winning the race? Yes. Would I back him at Even-Money? No. Is there value elsewhere in the race? Yes, plenty because of the fact so much of the book percentage is taken up by West Coast. I’ll throw a few quid at Talismanic as a quality turf horse switching to dirt and I’m also going to back North America, who is in great form and has been a little underestimated in the market after such a fine win last time out.

In the other races, I think Lancaster Bomber is a large price in the Dubai Turf. Switching to the UK and in the Borderlescott Sprint Trophy at Musselburgh, Alpha Delphini enjoys the track and won’t mind any cut in the surface. I like his chances over Caspian Prince who prefers quicker ground. Best of luck this weekend.

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