Nick Hardman gives us his thoughts for the first meeting of the flat season:
Some fantastic racing action on Saturday as the UK flat season kicks off with the Lincoln meeting at Doncaster. As if that wasn’t enough, we also have the world’s richest race meeting in the Dubai World Cup. I’ll be giving you my thoughts on the top races from these meetings together with a list of my fancies who will be burdened no doubt by carrying my wagers.
First up is the Doncaster Mile at 2.05pm and just 9 entries are set to go to post as I write this. I think the 4 at the top of the market all have a chance of winning but at 2/1, 11/4, 5/1 and 7/1 there is not much too choose between them. Marco Botti has had 3 winners from his last 9 runners at this meeting and Guest Of Honour @5/1 could be worth a bet but I will give this one a swerve as in truth I’d be guessing rather than using my better judgement.
The Cammidge Trophy at 2.45pm could well go the way of Jack Dexter and the softer the better for him. He shoulders a 5lb penalty in an attempt to gain back-to-back victories in this event but I think he is a class act and rarely runs a bad race. There is not much juice in the price @9/4 but I am happy to take that with William Hill offering 2nd place refunds on all C4 races.
On to the Spring Mile considered the consolation race for those horses that did not make the cut for the Lincoln. With 22 runners I will be backing 3 against the field. Richard Fahey has a great record at this meeting with 40% of his handicap runners either winning or making the frame. He saddles 2 here and I want them both on side. First up is Brae Hill, a horse who won the Lincoln in 2012 and was 3rd in 2013. The best time to catch him is early season and with course, distance and going all no problem then I have taken the 10/1. Fahey’s other runner is Farlow who is stepping up to a mile for the first time. He signed off 2013 with a good 5th on soft in the Ayr Bronze Cup. He is an interesting runner and worth a couple of quid each-way @14/1. Finally we have Global Village who was runner up to Levitate in the Lincoln last year. He goes well fresh and is suited by the hustle and bustle of a big handicap field. I have taken the early 12/1 and all three bets have been placed with best odds guaranteed bookmakers.
On to the main event and pre-race favourite Captain Cat is doubtful due to the soft going. I have read up on some trends and in a race as competitive as this I have used those to pick some likely sorts. First off I want a horse rated in the 90s but that only whittles the field down to 17. Second, I’m going for the age angle and focussing on 4 and 5 year old horses who account for 75% of the winners since 1980. From those making the cut I fancy 2 who I will be backing. For the win only it will be Richard Fahey’s Gabrials Kaka. There’s a lot to like about this horse. He is a 4 year old carrying less than 9 stone, is saddled by a trainer with a great record in this race and he actually has form over further than 1 mile which could be an asset if the ground gets even softer. At a bigger price Charlie Hills’ One Word More has bags of potential and fits the age and weight trend nicely. One that doesn’t is Tres Coronas who is a 7 year old. However, he seemed to take a huge leap forward last year and finished 3rd in last year’s Cambridgeshire and 3rd in the John Smith’s Cup. Interestingly, this horse is stepping down in trip having raced predominantly at 10 furlongs for the past few years. At 20/1 he is worth a speculative punt as his stamina may see him pick off some weary finishers and grab a bit of place money.
I can’t let the Meydan World Cup night pass without having a few bets to small stakes. This is always difficult as it is an international event so collateral form is thin on the ground and we have horses racing on the artificial tapeta surface, some for the first time. Four of the races are on the turf course and the going will most likely be pretty fast! These will be fun bets more than anything just to give the viewing some additional spice. I’m going to give the Godolphin Mile a swerve and go straight to the Dubai Gold Cup and the highly unoriginal selection is Cavalryman @5/2. Last year’s winner loves Meydan and looks sure to make a bold bid to retain his crown. His form figures at Meydan in the last 2 years read 2311 and I’m sure he will be there or thereabouts. The UAE Derby is another one I will by-pass as the top two take a chunk of the market at 2/1 and 3/1 and I don’t know enough about the other runners to really be optimistic with an each-way play.
Next up is the Al Quoz Sprint and I’m backing trail-blazing favourite Shea Shea to win. Apparently he is as good as ever this season and with C&D form he gets the nod over market rival Amber Sky. I will sit out the Dubai Golden Shaheen and the Dubai Duty Free and have a punt on the penultimate race, the Dubai Sheema Classic which features a cast of stars including Magician, Cirrus Des Aigles, Gentildonna, Dunaden and Mount Athos. I do fancy Magician’s chances and at 3/1 I have been tempted to have a nibble. Call me mad but I’m also going to have a few quid on Cirrus Des Aigles. Clearly he only showed his talent in snatches last season, but he had previously given Frankel a real good race in his swansong at Ascot’s Champions Day meeting in 2012. That form and his second to Farrh in the same race last year would give him every chance here. At 15/2 it’s another nibble for me.
Finally on to the world’s richest race, the Dubai World Cup. This is no-brainer for me. Red Cadeaux @25/1. I love this unsung hero who has amassed over £4 million of prize money. Second in this last year, second in the Melbourne Cup, this globe-trotter has multiple placed finishes in Group races all around the world. What is there not to like?
So there you go and below are a list of my fancies this weekend. As ever, if you are having a bet yourself then all the best and be lucky!
Doncaster 2.40pm – Jack Dexter @9/4
Doncaster 3.15pm – Brae Hill @10/1, Global Village @12/1 and Farlow @14/1 (all each-way)
Doncaster 3.50pm – Gabrials Kaka 8/1 (win only), One Word More @14/1 and Tres Coronas @20/1 each-way
Meydan 1.45pm – Cavalryman @5/2
Meydan 3.03pm – Shea Shea @11/8
Meydan 5.17pm – Magician @3/1 and Cirrus Des Aigles @15/2
Meydan 6.05pm – Red Cadeaux @25/1 (each-way)