Meydan, Dubai, Thursday 2/18 Preview

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Lauren Magill

February 17th, 2016

Laura King, a presenter for the Dubai Racing Channel, previews another awesome card from Meydan, Dubai on Thursday.

Mike de Kock is finding all of those who have written off Mubtaahij after his fifth place in the Firebreak Stakes a fortnight ago quite amusing, and isn’t mincing his words. “I think people have cotton wool in their ears when you tell them things,” said the straight-talking South African on Tuesday morning. “I said he was 80-85 per cent fit and this is how we like to train; to bring them on with racing. He’s been coming down the [weight] scale nicely since then, and he’ll be 90-95 per cent fit when he runs next time.”

Ignore Mubtaahij – who is better over further, anyway - at your peril when he returns in Maktoum Challenge Round 3 on March 5th.

In the meantime, De Kock has plenty to keep him occupied with six runners this weekend; all of whom are capable of making the frame. Most intriguing is Ertijaal, who makes his dirt debut, at the request of owner Sheikh Hamdan, in the nine and a half furlong handicap. De Kock, who believes the colt would have been hard to beat in the Group 3 Dubai Millennium Stakes on turf, is nevertheless happy to give the dirt a try.

“On pedigree and on running style, he should adapt”, he said. “Plus he’s been training well on it, but you just don’t really know until you get into a race. If he doesn’t enjoy it, we’ll switch back and run in the Jebel Hatta [on Super Saturday.]”

There isn’t much of Ertijaal’s class in the race, but it might be worth taking him on with the unexposed Faulkner [Meydan, 18.55] who ran a great race behind Frosted last time and is still improving.

Of the De Kock runners, I actually like Mastermind [Meydan, 15.35] best in the seven furlong turf race. His form figures over this course and distance read 1-2-3 and he’s down in grade here, having run an excellent third in the Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort last time. He can just last home over Ashaadd who has a light weight for an in-form yard.

The mile dirt handicap is a tight affair, and it is noteworthy that William Buick prefers Saeed bin Suroor’s American Hope – just touched off over course and distance last time – to his own yard’s Footbridge. However, Munaaser [Meydan, 16.10] ran a blinder in the Group 2 Maktoum Challenge last time and has to be taken seriously once again, assuming that he has the toe for this drop in trip. Pylon, who is reportedly “doing very well” at home is another to consider at longer odds.

Tryster, who has a massive following, will be all the rage in the featured Group 3 Dubai Millennium Stakes, but liking for Meydan – and to a lesser extent turf – has to be taken on trust. He could well still win, but this wasn’t the original plan [a dirt run was mentioned] so it might be worth chancing the improving Zamaan [Meydan, 16.45], who was flying home last time. Tellina is another who makes appeal, at hopefully better value.

A good day for Paul Hanagan can continue if Fityaan [Meydan, 17.20] can make the most of bottom weight in the five furlong dash, while Godolphin won’t leave empty-handed and their Udododontu [Meydan, 18.10] can follow up his course and distance win in a better grade in the last.