Life Is Good
Ed Marnane: Life Is Good, the hot favourite to win Saturday’s Dubai World Cup, received a major boost when Todd Pletcher’s outstanding colt drew stall one at Tuesday’s barrier draw ceremony. All season at Meydan horses drawn low that can race prominently have dominated and that trend is likely to continue with Life Is Good in the $12m event.
Winner of six of his seven races, Life Is Good was impressive winning the Pegasus World Cup in January, making all in customary fashion and drawing clear to win in great style. Life Is Good has been in great form since arriving in Dubai last week and his trainer is happy with him. He can provide Pletcher with his first Dubai World Cup.
Hot Rod Charlie, trained by Doug O’Neill, looks the chief threat. He has taken a similar route to previous American Dubai World Cup winners Curlin (2008) and California Chrome (2016) by shipping early to the Middle East and having a prep run in Dubai. He impressed winning the Al Maktoum Challenge (Round II) last month, easily defeating Al Nefud and should be primed for Saturday’s big test.
The unbeaten Manobo, regarded as the banker of the meeting, will start red-hot favourite in the Dubai Gold Cup for Charlie Appleby, a trainer operating at a remarkable 29% this season at Meydan. By Sea The Stars, he extended his winning to streak to five with a comfortable win in the Nad Al Sheba Trophy, producing an eye-catching performance and smashing the track record.
Stay Foolish is unexposed as a stayer and his impressive victory in the Red Sea Handicap suggests he will emerge as big danger to Manobo. It has been a fantastic few months for Japanese horses on the world stage, starting with Loves Only You winning the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf and Marche Lorraine causing a massive shock in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Loves Only You went on to win the Hong Kong Cup, while on the same card Glory Vase landed the Vase. Stay Foolish was one of four winners for Japan on the Saudi Cup undercard, all ridden by Christophe Lemaire.
Elsewhere on the card, Schnell Meister can win the $5m Dubai Turf, a race Japan have a good record in recent years. His second to Gran Alegria in the Mile Championship is smart form, and having only had seven lifetime runs he is open to plenty of improvement returning from a three month break, and can deny Lord North back-to-back wins.
On a star-studded card the $6m Sheema Classic is arguably the best race, attracting a top-class international field. Neom Turf Cup winner Authority leads a formidable Japan challenge, joined by Japan runner-up Shahryar, Oaks winner Uberleben and Stella Veloce.
Alenquer, trained by William Haggas, holds each-way claims under Tom Marquand. He will be stepping back up to 2400m, the same distance of his win in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot in June last year. He caught the eye in his comeback when landing the Winter Derby and lowering the track record.
The locals hold a strong hand in the Godolphin Mile. Bhupat Seemar’s progressive Al Nefud has impressed since switching to dirt and it looks significant Tadhg O’Shea has chosen the horse ahead of Secret Ambition, who is trying to emulate Firebreak as a two-time winner.
Mubakker, trained by Doug Watson, has made massive strides since arriving in Red Stables and is 2-4 on dirt. His second behind Desert Wisdom in the Burj Nahaar deserves to be upgraded having had a wide trip. In a competitive event Mubakker can give his trainer a third victory in six years.
Saeed bin Suroor, who has trained six Godolphin Mile winners, saddles Storm Damage, a smart, progressive gelding who has thrived this season. Suroor has booked Christophe Soumillon and the pair has teamed up for big wins on this card in the past, most notably with Thunder Snow in two Dubai World Cups. Storm Damage is facing a stiff task on his dirt debut, taking on seasoned and battle-hardened types but if taking to the surface, he should go well.
Combustion looks the answer in the UAE Derby, a race that needs to be treated with caution with runners representing South America, Japan, Russia, USA and UAE. Owned and bred by Godolphin in Japan, he will be suited by the conditions and has the assistance of William Buick. His sire Discreet Cat won the 2006 UAE Derby, sporting the same blue silks when trained by Saeed bin Suroor.
US-based sprinters have a fine record in the Golden Shaheen and they are expected to dominate this year’s renewal. Breeders’ Cup Sprint runner-up and Grade 1 winner Dr. Schivel is their main hope and holds obvious claims, along with Drain The Clock, winner of seven of his 12 races.
Race 1: 15 RB RICH LYKE ME; 8 HADI DE CARRERE; 7 FIRST CLASS; 1 AF ALAJAJ.
Race 2: 10 MUBAKKER; 1 AL NEFUD; 16 STORM DAMAGE; 5 DESERT WISDOM.
Race 3: 9 STAY FOOLISH; 12 MANOBO; 8 RODRIGO DIAZ; 1 AL MADHAR.
Race 4: 16 SUESA; 4 CREATIVE FORCE; 10 MAN OF PROMISE; 3 CASA CREED.
Race 5: 6 COMBUSTION; 11 PINEHURST; 13 SEKIFU; 1 IRWIN.
Race 6: 2 DR. SCHIVEL; 3 DRAIN THE CLOCK; 10 RED LE ZELE; 8 MERAAS.
Race 7: 12 SCHNELL MEISTER; 16 SAFFRON BEACH; 9 MOHAAFETH; 8 LORD NORTH.
Race 8: 9 ALENQUER; 12 SHAHRYAR; 1 AUTHORITY; 14 YIBIR.
Race 9: 7 LIFE IS GOOD; 5 HOT ROD CHARLIE; 9 MIDNIGHT BOURBON; 1 AERO TREM.
Best Bet: 7 Life Is Good (Race 9)
Best Value: 10 Mubakker (Race 2)
Best Swinger: 2 Dr. Schivel and 10 Red Le Zele (Race 6)
Jackpot (Races 6-9) – R27
Leg 1: 2, 3, 10
Leg 2: 9, 12, 16
Leg 3: 1, 9, 12
Leg 4: 7