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2021 Dubai Racing Carnival – Thursday 25th February

Meydan Overview & Selections – Week 6:

D’Bai was a winner last week at Meydan in this Thursday column, narrowly prevailing under a confident ride from William Buick. That result edged Buick ahead of Frankie Dettori in the Dubai World Cup Carnival Jockeys’ Championship at Meydan last week but I am banking the latter hitting back in the second race on Thursday.

With all thoroughbred races being run on the Turf this week, the blue of Godolphin look set to dominate and three of my selections sport those colours. My other selection is an international raider who just needs a decent trip in a competitive handicap.

10:05am ET Meydan: Dubai Mirage

This horse was beaten a nose by the talented yet unpredictable Bedouin’s Story last time out, but he can go one better here with plenty now in his favour. He steps up to nine furlongs here, which looks sure to suit him given his dam was useful at up to 11 furlongs. He is much more favourably positioned in stall 1, and after drawing stall 15 last week when not getting the best of trips but still running well. Frankie Dettori takes over from Hector Crouch in the saddle. He looks sure to get a good stalking trip, and the fact that he has gone up 2lbs is surely offset by the potential advantages this time. He should be backed with some confidence.

11:15am ET Meydan: Ispolini

He won this race by over 10 lengths in 2019 and then finished a creditable second in the Dubai Gold Cup to Cross Counter. He has won a Group Three in Germany since, but proved to be somewhat disappointing last year in a handful of runs. However, there were definite signs of a return to form last time. He finished fourth in a Listed handicap behind Dubai Future here three weeks ago, but he shaped a good deal better than the bare result. He was still travelling strongly two furlongs out but got stuck in traffic with nowhere to go. Once he got out and found a clear run, he ran on really strongly. That effort suggested he is on his way back and, at his best, he would win this with ease. I think he can take another step forward here and win his second Nad Al Sheba Trophy.

11:50am ET Meydan: Star Safari

He did this column a favour two weeks ago and can take the step up in grade in this weak Group Three for Charlie Appleby. The trainer has landed the last three renewals. His chance is based on him being more progressive than his rivals. Dream Castle finished last in the Al Rashadiya last time where he seemed amiss, while this 10-furlong trip stretches his stamina. Bedouin’s Story has turned the corner recently under Frankie Dettori and he was eye-catching last week, but I’d worry about the step-up in trip which may see him run too freely early on. On balance, I would rather be with a progressive type who seems to be improving with every run.

12:25pm ET Meydan: Escobar

He is worth supporting at a decent price to give trainer David O’Meara a second winner at this year’s Carnival. Escobar was luckless on his first run at Meydan this season, held up in what turned out to be a steadily-run affair and finishing full of running in 10th place. Last week, he was upped in grade but was far too free in a steadily-un Zabeel Mile. He returns to a handicap now and just needs some pace to go at to give him an excellent chance. He has some decent form in the UK, including when third behind Space Blues in the Lennox Stakes at Goodwood last season. He has won before from this mark of 105 and, with a clear run, has a chance at likely decent odds.

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