Al Maktoum Challenge R3 Sponsored By Al Naboodah Facilities Management Trophy Group 1 – 1m2f Dirt

The opening race on the card is for Purebred Arabian and looks like a matchup between Paddys Day and BARNAMAJ. They have met twice this season and the score stands at 1-1 with only a head and neck between them. Paddys Day certainly has improved since switch to the dirt at Meydan with his only defeat coming over 1m3f to Barnamaj. Barnamaj less exposed then Paddys Day with only two runs to date in the UAE. Barnamaj was the winner when these horses ran over further and with his good European form is the preference. Ziyadd has run well twice on the turf in Abu Dhabi this season and Naziq is an interesting sort making his UAE debut. However expect these two will only be fighting out the minor honours.

Meydan Classic Sponsored By Trans Gulf Electro-Mechanical Listed – 1m Turf

Wasim has run very well this season at Meydan. Last time out won over 7f and is defiantly one for the shortlist. Behind Wasim in that race was ZAMAN. Godolphin colt who was making his UAE debut. Arrived in the UAE with some good UK form and is expected to come on for that race and reverse form with Wasim. The move up to 1m would be the only question mark. El Chapo was beaten a long way last time out over course and distance but it was in a Group 3 with some useful horses ahead of him. Won on his UAE debut and has some good UK form so being back in this grade will go close.

UAE Oaks Sponsored By Al Naboodah Construction Group Group 3 – 1m1.5f Dirt

The feature race on the card is the UAE Oaks and all the fillies entered competed in the 1000 Guineas at the start of February. The winner that day was WINTER LIGHTNING and would be a major surprise if did not take this. Two wins from two runs in the UAE the filly improved when stepped up in distance. In terms of filling the places. Rayya has run well on her three starts in the UAE including opening her account on her debut. However last two runs has been second to Winter Lightning and nothing would suggest that can reverse that form. Expressiy, another Godolphin filly, has some good UK form and two good runs to date but behind Winter Lightning on both occasions.

Al Naboodah National Plant Trophy Handicap – 7f Turf

Competitive thirteen runner handicap with a number in with a shout. Four Godolphin horses are entered with Top Score perhaps the best opportunity. Top Score improved on his seasonal debut with a good second last time out over course and distance. A listed course and distance winner, who remains on a good weight, and one for the shortlist. OH THIS IS US beat Top Score last time out on seasonal debut. With no significant rise in weights should be able to repeat that form. British trained Khafoo Shememi has not disgraced himself on two runs to date in the UAE and is a listed winner over 1m in the UK. Looks capable to get into a place. Van Der Decken was a course and distance winner on UAE debut and has not been far away in three subsequent runs. Silver Line was not too far behind Oh This Is Us last time out and was targeted at some top races in the UK in 2016.

Nad Al Sheba Trophy Sponsored By Al Naboodah Civil Engineering Group 3 – 1m6f Turf

A really interesting Group 3 for the stayers with eleven horses going to post. Rare Rhythm looks the strongest of the Godolphin horses. Making UAE debut this gelding is a fairly unexposed 6 year old who finished last year in the UK as a listed winner. The UK trained Prince Of Arran has run two excellent races on his first season in the UAE. This is a step up in class from those races but is capable of going close. Canndera makes her UAE debut but is a listed winner in France. However her presence maybe to help her stable mate the very classy gelding VAZIRABAD. Group 2 winner on World Cup night last season and Group 1 winner in France last year. If there are any concerns it would that only finished second last season in this race suggesting needs a prep race and requires further to been seen at his best. The one to beat.

Curlin Handicap Sponsored By Al Naboodah Building Listed Handicap – 1m2f Dirt

Godolphin have two entries in this race both with an excellent chance. Alabaster has been third in last five runs which included Group 3 and Listed company. Is a course and distance winner so does know how to win. DON’T GIVE UP is the preferred of the Godolphin two. Two wins from two races in the UAE to date both over course and distance. Earlier UK was form was good and therefore looks like the one to beat. On a good day Etijaah is a strong candidate to take this race but remains inconsistent. Saltarin Dubai has been second behind Don’t Give Up on last two starts and again looks like fighting out for a place. Active Spirit was a course and distance winner at the start of the season but the rise in weights appeared to hold him up on last two starts. Has come down in weights now and certainly on the shortlist. El Loco represents the powerful Doug Watson yard who did not run a particular good race on UAE debut last time out. However does have some strong form from Germany which should see him come on from that run.

Al Naboodah Trade School Trophy Handicap – 1m2f Turf

Fourteen go to post in the last race on the card. MOUNTAIN HUNTER disappointed on his UAE debut. However significantly improved on last two starts which included a course and distance win. Was raised in the weights for that victory but still remains on a winnable mark. Another Godolphin horse, Banksea, has run well on two starts to date in the UAE but does not look like can reverse the form with Mountain Hunter despite being slightly better off on the weights. Baroot won over course last time out which but question marks if this distance is ideal for him. British trained Across The Stars disappointed on UAE debut last time out but is a Group 2 winner in the UK.

Carl Templeton-Smith

Twitter – @northracingclub