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2011 Dubai Carnival at Meydan Opening Day Race Preview


The lineups are confirmed for the first day of the 2011 Dubai Carnival and a number of interesting contests are set to unfold. Punters can expect plenty of action and excitement over the Tapeta surface as contenders chase some very enticing purses throughout the seven-race thoroughbred card. The highlights of the day are the opening fixture, a UAE 1000 Guineas Trial, and Round One of the Al Maktoum Challenge. It served as a reference for the big prize last year, as Gloria De Campeao (Impression) went on to score in the Dubai World Cup.

19:15 (local)

A number of quality fillies and mares line up for this 7f conditions contest with Mahbooba (Galileo) giving seven pounds to the field. Christophe Soumillon gets the mount for Mike De Kock’s charge and they’ll be looking to build on a series of impressive graded scores. She does come off the layoff, unraced since mid-July, and punters may worry about whether the Meydan debutante needs the race or not. Fellow South African Chocolicious (Kahal) switches over from the turf and many expect her to take a fair amount of volume for this one, though the grade 1 winner also comes off an extended lay-off. Bottom-weight NAJOUM (Giant’s Causeway) could spring a surprise if he progresses as connections expect her to and the fact remains that she looks fresher than many others in the field.  


There is a very enticing $120,000 (US) purse up for grabs to the top finishers in this 7f handicap for contenders rated 100-110. Old friend Sir Gerry (Carson City) will be looking to roll back the years a bit after maybe biting off a bit more than he can chew throughout last year’s campaign. He was heavily-raced throughout 2010, but it must be noted that he scored in his Meydan debut in a handicap contest similar to this one. He ended last season with career-best ratings and it has to be acknowledged that he is top-weight for a reason. Atlantic Brave (Piccolo) enters the race in all kinds of form but takes a big step up coming off the dirt surface at Jebel Ali. Godolphin’s ASHRAM (Indian Haven) was a beaten favourite last time out but has flourished with Dettori in the past.


Another big purse goes to the winner of this supremely-tricky handicap for runners in the 95-105 range. ROCHDALE (Bertolini) gets Rroyston French for his third crack at the Meydan surface. He has taken to the Tapeta very well and debuted at 70-95, scoring by 4.5 lengths before going on to score by 1.75 in his step up to the conditions circuit where he earned career-best figures. He’s had a tidy lay-off of about a month and a half, so punters are expecting him to be very fresh for this one.


Godolphin’s LAWSPEAKER (Singspiel) will be looking to get things rolling again as he got stuffed in his last outing on a step up to Grade 2 level at Longchamp. Prior to that, he scored at listed level at Toulouse over the same specialist distance (12 furlongs) that we’re looking at here. He ticks the boxes from a ratings standpoint while Mikhail Glinka (Galileo) could make a statement if given the right sort of trip against this field.


This six furlong battle boasts $110,000 (US) up for grabs as Ramzan Kadyrov’s BANKABLE (Medicean) will be looking to build on his impressive pair of races at Meydan last season. He is laid off since March of 2010 when he scored at Group 1 level, taking the Dubai Duty Free. The globe-trotting seven year-old bay also captured the Al Fahidi Fort last February, besting the likes of Imbongi (Russian Revival), Premio Loco (Prized) and Arlington Million-winner Debussy (Deisis).


This race was a kingmaker last year and it’s obvious that it will be on the minds of every trainer with a charge in this race. Going 8f around the Tapeta for an impressive $200,000 (US) purse, the race sets up nicely for Godolphin’s MENDIP (Harlan’s Holiday). The lightly-raced four year-old enjoyed a pair of scores last year in a very progressive campaign at Meydan. He debuted with a score in a conditions race and secured a 90 rating. He then went on to win a listed contest at an OR of 100. His campaign ended with a show in the Group 2 UAE Derby when he earned a colossal 115 OR. He was able to score off the lay-off last time out and deserves plenty of respect against a field that boasts some solid victories, but few scores at a level higher than this.


The final contest of the day is a 1m1f race for contenders rated 100+. This one is arguably the most wide-open of the day and there should be plenty of decent prices on offer. Comradeship (Dubawi) is one of the few that boasts a win over the Meydan surface though he is at the basement from a ratings perspective. If he progresses, he will come in at an impressive price. The one to watch here looks to be top-weight SNAAFY (Kingmambo), who ran at the highest level at last year’ Meydan meet and came off the lay-off to take a score in his opener before biting off a bit more than he could chew on the graded circuit, though he did achieve career-best figures.  

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