Dubai Carnival beads: World Cup night landscape after Super Saturday, III

March 7th, 2016

Concluding the discussion from Vol. I on the Dubai World Cup and Vol. II on the other dirt races...

Postponed photo courtesy Dubai Racing Club/Andrew Watkins.

Thankfully, the Meydan turf course was a comparative haven on Super Saturday, with the right horses winning nearly everything (with one glaring exception).


Postponed was easily the class of the field in the Dubai City of Gold (G2), but considering his six-month holiday, and the fact that this was merely a tightener for the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1), I was forecasting a more workmanlike victory. In fact, he disposed of this group with apparent effortlessness in a stakes-record 2:27.90. By far the fastest City of Gold ever (even including the editions at Nad al Sheba, just for fun), that time isn’t too far off the course mark set by Gentildonna (2:27.25) in the 2014 Sheema.

I’m tempted to say that Postponed ran almost too well in his comeback, and his first start since switching to Varian. On the other hand, regular rider Andrea Atzeni engineered an ideal passage, treating him tenderly throughout and holding on to him as long as possible before letting him stride clear. Atzeni described it as being “like a piece of work,” and the son of Dubawi had a pipe-opener with a final 400 meters (about a quarter-mile) in :23.375. Postponed just needs to maintain this form for the next three weeks. Varian thinks he’s liable to improve, and if so, he’ll be formidable. Yet you’ve got to wonder if, despite the breeziness of his display on Super Saturday, he might have peaked a race too soon.

Runner-up Dariyan continues to rack up his high-profile placings. The Aga Khan homebred will break through in a major sooner or later, but I’m not sure if the Sheema is the place. Dismissed by a resounding three lengths here, he’d need to move forward, have Postponed regress substantially, and turn back a few highly accomplished new shooters. Dariyan seems poised for another minor award on World Cup night. The other 4-year-old in the field, Balios, was only fourth in his return. Trainer David Simcock will need to conjure more from him, but he does have scope to build on this. Godolphin’s handicapper, Haafaguinea, overachieved in third, likely his high water mark.


Internationals expected to join the Sheema Classic fray include Japanese champion Duramente, who’s already being discussed as a Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) threat; his compatriot Last Impact; the Aidan O'Brien-trained Highland Reel (I'd originally had him in the uncertain category so this line is an edit); and French representatives Queen’s Jewel, Gailo Chop, and Cirrus des Aigles. The Grey Gatsby was quoted in the antepost market, but trainer Kevin Ryan reported that he's skipping Dubai (another Tuesday edit).


Godolphin’s Tryster again surged past the entire field in Super Saturday’s Jebel Hatta (G1), motoring his final 400 meters in :22.166. Jockey William Buick paid him a handsome compliment, averring that he’d never ridden a horse with such an electric turn of foot.

But before rushing to endorse him for the Dubai Turf (G1), there are some cautionary notes. Finishing second was the lowest-rated horse in the race, the 8-year-old Farrier, who was trying turf for the first time after being exposed on dirt. Not exactly form to bank on. Australian-bred Ertijaal didn’t find as much on the front end as I hoped, just salvaging third from Harry’s Son, who hasn’t progressed this Carnival.