WHEN the management team at Meydan Racecourse decided to dig up the Tapeta surface and replace it with dirt, they did so with the sole intention of attracting the Americans to run in the Dubai World Cup (5.00pm).
With U.S. pair California Chrome and Lea heading the betting for the $10,000,000 event, they appear to have been successful in what they set out to achieve. Yet the fact that the field for the world’s richest race is made up of just seven others seems a little odd - and is hardly a ringing endorsement for the new surface.
There is no getting away from the fact that California Chrome brings the best dirt form to the table, having won both last year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. Art Sherman’s four-year-old was only beaten a whisker into third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic too, and there will be plenty interested in taking the 6/4 on offer with Betway.
I certainly cannot back him at that price, however, given that he’s travelled such a long way and never run at the track. The same can also be said of his fellow American Lea, who has plenty of form on the surface at home but has never raced in Dubai.
The trip looks on the skinny side for Japan Cup winner Epiphanenia, and I expect Far Eastern raider Hokko Tarumae may outshine his more fancied travelling companion. As a result, the value call in the race has to be the Godolphin pair AFRICAN STORY and PRINCE BISHOP. Last year’s winner can be backed at 8/1 with Betway to land the prize again, with Prince Bishop available at 14/1.
The pair have shown a real liking for the new dirt surface and, not only are they settled in, they both have had plenty of World Cup night experience in the past.
Elsewhere on the card, TAMARKUZ looks impossible to oppose in the Godolphin Mile (12.40pm), while French star SOLOW looks to have the Dubai Turf (3.40pm) at his mercy. At much bigger odds, the 16/1 available with Betway about BRASS RING in the Dubai Gold Cup (1.15pm) looks too big, as he is a definite stayer in what doesn’t look a great race. Finally, the booking of Ryan Moore for Japanese hope HARP STAR in the Dubai Sheema Classic (4.15pm) feels significant and 3/1 looks like good value.
TAMARKUZ 12.40pm Meydan (tomorrow)
BRASS RING e/w 1.15pm Meydan (tomorrow)
SOLOW 3.40pm Meydan (tomorrow)
HARP STAR 4.15pm Meydan (tomorrow)
AFRICAN STORY e/w 5.00pm Meydan (tomorrow)
PRINCE BISHOP e/w 5.00pm Meydan (tomorrow)