Dubai World Cup: The lowdown ahead of the 2021 Carnival

RACING fan Tommy Buckley (@tbuckleythinks) has analysed all nine races from the Dubai World Cup, pointing out his favoured fancies ahead of the 2021 Carnival at Meydan.

Dubai World Cup | Saturday 27th March 2021

When the domestic racing season at Meydan/UAE begins in November the dream for all connections is to develop their horses and by January hope to be good enough to take their chance in the Dubai Carnival alongside the racing stars that attend from all over the world.

The Dubai World Cup day is the absolute pinnacle of the Meydan and UAE racing season; the Meydan racing season offers a total of $40 million dollars in prize money and this year $35 million will be up for grabs on the big day itself.

Dubai World Cup day consists of nine high-class, fascinating contests with six Group 1 and three Group 2 races to enjoy.

Here’s my look at each of the nine races with previous winner and Starting Prices from the previous six renewals – there was no meeting in 2020 due to covid – along with brief thoughts for this year.

Please consider these views are taken before final declarations and before draws are made.

Godolphin Mile 

2014 :- 1st = VARIETY CLUB at 11/2, 2nd = Soft Falling Rain 11/4f, 3rd = Flotilla 9/1
2015 :- 1st = TAMARKUZ (Evsf), 2nd Sloane Avenue (10/1), 3rd Free Wheeling (50/1)
2016 :- 1st = ONE MAN BAND at 11/2 , 2nd – Faulkner at 14/1, 3rd = Cool Cowboy 8/1
2017 :- 1st = SECOND SUMMER at 20/1, 2nd – Ross at 28/1, 3rd Sharp Azteca at 9/4
2018 :- 1st = HEAVY METAL at 4/1, 2nd – Muntazah at 12/1, 3rd = Adirato at 40/1
2019 :- 1st = COAL FRONT at 5/1, Heavy Metal 2nd at 8/1, 3rd = Muntazah at 10/11f

I personally enjoy all the Meydan season and every race/raceday within it but I’d definitely have the Godolphin Mile on Dubai World Cup day amongst my favourite races of the entire season.

I’ve got several good memories of actually being stood in the betting hall at Doncaster racecourse and cheering home Variety Club back in 2014, of course there was the truly brilliant Tamarkuz winning it in 2015 and Meydan legend One Man Band romping home in 2016.

Tamarkuz winning in 2014 is the only favourite in the previous six renewals to win, but four of the other five winners were priced between 4/1 and 11/2 so the front end of the market could well be the place to go, there is hope for those who like big odds ew plays as you can horses placed at 50/1, 40/1, 28/1 14/1 and 12/1 along with a winner at 20/1 in 2017.

Thoughts for 2021

Midnight Sands was a lively looking each way option for this race last year before it was cancelled and this time around he heads the market around 5/2 after a very impressive win in the Group 3 Burj Nahaar last time out.

That run win and performance by Midnight Sands does set the standard and could well be the absolute key form with the likes of Tuz, Chiefdom and Golden Goal filling the places that day, they’ll have to turn form around with Midnight Sands of course but they definitely deserve their chance in the line up and warrant respect.

Secret Ambition is a proven class performer in Meydan who always gives everything, although beaten in the previous two renewals of this race and not a prolific winner, those defeats were from bad draws and if he’s able to get into the race and show his best then he’s also a dangerous horse that has to be respected.

Secret Ambition’s stablemate Roman Rosso is rated around a 12/1 shot for this, he’s got the talent for sure but was running on over 10f here last time so I’d be surprised if he beat all the better milers in this.

Priced around 6/1 Avant Garde appears to be the prime international interest for this contest and his American graded race form entitles him to line up with plenty of respect.

Dieu Du Vin represents Japan and will be the toast of all punters and wine drinkers alike if he’s able to take this huge prize, current price 12/1 might tempt each way backers.

Dubai Kahayla Classic

2014 :- 1st = RABBAH DE CARRERE at 7/1 2nd = Djainka Des Forges at 11/1, 3rd = Musharabab at 16/1
2015 :- 1st = MANARK (10/1) 2nd = Valiant Boy (7/2), 3rd = Raaziq (25/1)
2016 :- 1st = AF MATHMOON 2nd = TM Thunder Struck, 3rd = Thakif
2017 :- 1st = REDA at 25/1, RB Burn at 10/1, Sniper De Monlau at 20/1
2018 :- 1st = TALLAB AL KHALEDIAH at 8/1, 2nd = Chaddad at 8/1, 3rd = Barnamaj at 9/2
2019 :- 1st = AF MAHER at 5/1, 2nd = Fazzah Al Khelidah at 11/1, 3rd = Amwaj at 50/1

The Pure Arabian breed races have tended to frustrate me personally from a betting perspective and I think Manark winning at 10/1 back in 2015 is the last time I got the winner of this Group 1 contest.

The Starting Prices of the winners and placed horses highlight that it’s not been a great race for the short priced options and that big priced each way options have every chance of giving you a good run for your money, places at 50/1, 25/1, 20/1 and 16/1 as well a winner at 25/1 give each way backers real hope.

Dubai Gold Cup

2014 :- 1st = CERTERACH at 33/1 2nd = Cavalryman at 7/4f , 3rd = Star Empire 14/1
2015 = 1st = BROWN PANTHER (4/1f) , 2nd = Star Empire (20/1), 3rd = Ahzeemah (9/1)
2016 = 1st = VAZIRABAD at 5/4f , 2nd = Big Orange at 12/1, 3rd = Haafaguinea at 7/1
2017 = 1st = VAZIRABAD at 9/4, Beautiful Romance at 5/1, Sheikhzayedroad at 6/1
2018 = 1st = VAZIRABAD at 6/4, 2nd = Sheikhzayedroad at 22/1, 3rd = Rare Rhythm at 10/3
2019 :- 1st = CROSS COUNTER at 7/4f, 2nd = Ispolini at 9/4, 3rd = Call The Wind at 3/1

On a day absolutely packed with quality in every race, the Dubai Gold Cup has actually always been one of my favourite Dubai World Cup day races and the legendary, brilliant Vazirabad is a big reason for that after he won this staying prize for 3 consecutive years with brilliant performances.

33/1 shot Certerach upset most punters in 2014 when denying the well backed Cavalryman but since then the last 5 winners have all been priced at 4/1 or lower, in the last renewal in 2019 the front 3 in the betting filled the first 3 places.

Thoughts for 2021 

Godolphin won this contest the last time it was ran in 2019 with Cross Counter and they’ll be hoping to do so again this time around with SECRET ADVISOR heading their runners supported by the likes of Royal Marine, Global Heat and Volcanic Sky.

Secret Advisor was a dual winner over 1 mile 6 furlongs at Meydan last season, he ran on well in both of those races, after being sent to Germany to finish 5th in a Group 1 he was stepped up to 1 mile 7 furlongs to contest a huge £2 million+ race at Riyadh where he finished 3 not beaten far by Gifts Of Gold.

That run at Riyadh should have set Secret Advisor up perfectly well for this and I’m sure Godolphin will have him primed for a big run, in a renewal that doesn’t look as strong as usual he looks to be the right favourite.

Subjectivist is a very interesting entry from the Mark Johnston yard and the proven Group 1 winner definitely has the class and stamina required to compete, his form in winning the Group 1 Prix Royal Oak at Longchamp makes him a serious contender if he’s able to show his best.

Proven international performers Spanish Mission and Red Verdon add class and experience to the field, their best form entitles them to be in the mix as well and might well be the ones each way punters go for.

UAE Derby

2014 :- 1st = TOAST OF NEW YORK at 11/1 2nd = Asmar 6/1 , 3rd = Emirates Flyer at 20/1
2015 :- 1st = MUBTAAHIJ (9/4 f) , 2 Maftool (5/1), 3 Golden Barrows (9/4 j)
2016 :- 1st = LANI at 12/1 , 2nd = Polar River 8/13f, 3rd = Yu Change
2017 :- 1st = THUNDER SNOW at 11/4F, Epicharis at 9/2, Master Plan at 7/1
2018 :- 1st = MENDELHSSON at 13/8f, 2nd = Rayya at 8/1, 3rd = Reride at 16/1
2019 :- 1st = PLUS QUE PARFAIT at 25/1, 2nd = Gray Magician at 28/1, 3rd = Manguzi at 40/1

The results show that the previous 6 years have produced mixed results in terms of the Starting Prices of the winners, 3 favourites have won at 11/4, 9/4 and 13/8 but there have also been winners at 11/1, 12/1 and 2019 winner at 25/1, indeed the first 3 home in 2019 produced a lottery style odds payout for forecasts and tricasts.

Same goes for the places with favourites placed and also big odds placed, generally I feel this is often a tricky race to be confident about and I’d say the results show that.

Thoughts for 2021

Panadol won on his Meydan on his debut and then stepped up on that next time shooting to the head of the market for this prize after his impressive win in the Listed Al Bastakiya on Super Saturday at Meydan a few weeks ago, he was impressive and always in control that day, a similar run on Saturday will make him hard to beat, current 3/1 may well look big on the day.

Mnasek sits just behind Panadol in the betting markets after her incredibly impressive win over the same course and distance when winning the UAE Oaks in fine, dominant style and she’ll be dangerous to them all if she can reproduce that combined with the bonus of the fillies allowance.

Japanese runner Pink Kamehameha looks to be the strongest international representative after winning the Saudi Derby at Riyadh last month, that was a tough, solid run and the current 11/2 available will appeal to plenty.

Speightspercomete looks to be improving and ran a fine staying on race to finish 2nd to Panadol last time out and his price around the 12/1 mark looks fair enough, the likes of Mouheeb, Rebels Romance and El Patriota all have proven Meydan form and can get involved if they are their best.

Al Quoz Sprint

2014 :- 1st = AMBER SKY at 5/2, 2nd = Ahtoug at 12/1, 3rd = Shea Shea at 11/10f
2015 :- 1st = SOLE POWER (11/2) , 2nd = Peniaphobia (4/1 f), 3rd = Green Mask (33/1)
2016 :- 1st = BUFFERING at 10/1 , 2nd = Ertijaal at 11/4f, 3rd = Peniaphobia at 5/1
2017 :- 1st = THE RIGHT MAN at 12/1, LONG ON VALUE at 66/1, Ertijaal 2/1f
2018 :- 1st = JUNGLE CAT at 11/4, 2nd = Stormy Liberal  at 40/1, 3rd = Conquest Tsunami at 25/1
2019 :- 1st = BLUE POINT at 4/6f, 2nd = Belvoir Bay at 66/1, 3rd = Stormy Liberal at 9/1

Watching a selection of the best sprinters in the world do battle over the Meydan turf on Dubai World Cup day is always a special sight and none more so for me than when the brilliant Blue Point literally blew them away in 2019, that win definitely sits right amongst my personal favourite Meydan performances.

Betting wise this is often a race where you will get very short priced market leaders and then a selection of big priced outsiders, obviously given it’s a Group One then you know the outsiders are high class horses that can’t be ruled out and that’s why you’ll see a good spread of big priced placed horses.

In the previous 5 renewals there were horses placed at 66/1 twice, 50/1, 40/1, 33/1 and 25/1, the last 3 2nd place slots have been filled by 66/1 shots twice and a 40/1 shot.

Thoughts for 2021

This year’s renewal might not have the usual depth of international runners it would usually have but no doubt it still looks a high quality field and they are headed by the brilliant Space Blues for Godolphin.

Blue Point was a brilliant winner of this back in 2019 and for me Space Blues looks the clear standard bearer in this race, he just has so much class, speed and versatility, if he’s at his best then he should be hard to beat.

It’s not just a one horse race though and the likes of proven Meydan winner Equilateral head a quality line up taking Space Blues on, Final Song, A’Ali and Khaadem all bring high class form to the table.

The quality goes all the way through the field and of those at bigger odds then perhaps Moss Gill, Acklam Express and Extravagant Kid all sit around the 20/1 mark and have the ability to get involved.

Dubai Golden Shaheen

2014 :-1st = STERLING CITY at 9/4f , 2nd = Rich Tapestry at 7/2, 3rd = United Color at 16/1
2015 :- 1st = SECRET CIRCLE (10/3), 2nd = Super Jockey (20/1), 3rd = Rich Tapestry 5/1
2016 :- 1st = MUARRAB at 6/1 , 2nd = X Y Jet at 7/4f, 3rd = Moraawij at 50/1
2017 :- 1st = MIND YOUR BISCUITS at 9/2jf, 2nd COMICAS at 50/1, 3rd Moraawij at 8/1
2018 :- 1st = MIND YOUR BISCUITS at 6/1, 2nd = XY Jet at 4/1, 3rd = ROY H at 4/7f
2019 :- 1st = X Y JET at 7/4f, 2nd = Matera Sky at 33/1, 3rd = Imperial Hint at 7/2

Every one of the previous 6 winners of the Group 1 dirt sprint were priced 6/1 or shorter with 3 favourites and a joint favourite in amongst that, but just like the turf sprint this race does produce placed horses at huge odds with horses placed at 50/1 twice, 33/1, 20/1 and 16/1.

Thoughts for 2021

As stated all previous 6 winners were 6/1 or shorter, on current betting that brings in Matera Sky 4/1, Yaupon 4/1 and Copano King 11/2 – Matera Sky was 2nd in this race in 2019 as a 33/1 shot but was due to line up as one of the favourite last year before it got cancelled.

Matera Sky lines up for this after a solid 2nd in big sprint at Riyadh, beaten by Copano King, so clearly those two are closely matched and have to be hugely respected,  perhaps Matera Sky’s previous proven experience of Meydan could make the difference.

Yaupon hasn’t run since being well fancied for the big Breeders Cup sprint so while he’s clearly high quality and respected, I couldn’t back him given how he disappointed that day and given the layoff.

Of those that have run in Dubai this year then Canvassed has been a revelation with excellent wins and he has to command respect at around the 8/1 mark, Good Effort showed incredible speed last time before just fading, if he gets away like that again and that speed can be controlled then his 10/1 price could look huge.

If big priced each way betting is your thing then Wildman Jack and Justin are worth a second look.

Dubai Turf

2014 :- 1st = JUST A WAY at 3/1f, 2nd = Vercingetorix at 5/1, 3rd = Dank at 6/1
2015 :- 1st = SOLOW (9/4) , 2nd = The Grey Gatsby (6/4 f), 3rd = Mshawish 14/1
2016 :- 1st = REAL STEAL at 8/1 , 2nd = Euro Charline at 25/1, 3rd = Tryster at 7/4f
2017 :- 1st = VIVLOS at 14/1, HESHAM 20/1, 3rd Ribchester at 11/4
2018 :-  1st = BENBATL at 4/1, Vivlos at 10/1, 3rd = Real Steel at 10/1
2019 :- 1st = ALMOND EYE at 6/5f, Vivlos at 22/1, Lord Glitters at 22/1

The roll of honour for this race just lists superstar after superstar and any horse that joins the likes of Solow, Benbatl and Almond Eye on the winners board will certainly have earned their place.

Betting wise it’s been a mixed race for punters, 4 winners at 4/1 or below whilst there have also been a fair spread of decent priced placed horses, the 2nd and 3rd home in 2019 were both 22/1, 20/1 2nd in 2017 and a 25/1 2nd in 2016.

Thoughts for 2021

Like a few of these World Cup day races the international presence maybe isn’t as deep as it would normally be but the presence of the high class trio at top of the market in Lord Glitters, Al Suhail and Lord North is more than enough to forget that issue.

Lord Glitters has been one of the real stars of this Dubai Carnival, perhaps the biggest star, with very impressive wins including last time on Super Saturday, he’ll be primed for another big run for sure.

Al Suhail got beat by Lord Glitters last time out but perhaps a combination of not being race sharp or as fit as the winner were the main reasons for that defeat, you’d expect Al Suhail to improve for that run and that will be enough to put him right in the mix.

Lord North has proved himself at the top level and again his best will make him a serious threat on the day.

I’d expect those three to produce the winner but if there is to be a shock then maybe Land of Legends or Tilsit can be the ones to consider at bigger prices.

Dubai Sheema Classic

2014 :- 1st = GENTILDONNA at 4/1 2nd = Cirrus Des Aigles at 9/1 , 3rd = Ambivalent at 50/1
2015 :- 1st = 1st = DOLNIYA (7/1) , 2nd = Flintshire (3/1), 3rd = One And Only 16/1
2016 :- 1st = POSTPONED at 4/5f , 2nd = Duramente at 4/1, 3rd = Last Impact at 40/1
2017 :- 1st = JACK HOBBS at 4/1, 2nd = Seventh Heaven at 8/1, Postponed 7/4
2018 :- 1st = HAWKBILL at 11/2, 2nd = Poet’s Word at 15/2, 3rd = Cloth Of Stars at 11/4f
2019 :- 1st = OLD PERSIAN at 7/4f, 2nd = Cheval Grand at 22/1, 3rd = Suave Richard at 11/1

Just looking at the names of the winners is enough to tell you the level of class that lines up for this great race and it has been a race that has been fairly kind for punters, all of last 6 winners priced 7/1 with 2 favourites and two winners at 4/1 so the head of the market could well be the place to concentrate on again this year.

Thoughts for 2021

This multi million pound Group 1 always attracts a high class field of international stars and this year is no different, the market is currently headed by Japanese star Chrono Genesis who is 7/4 favourite on the back of winning two Grade 1 in his last 3 starts and finishing a close 3rd to the high class Almond Eye in the other one.

Mishriff was targeted at this race immediately after winning the £15m+ Saudi Cup at Riyadh over 1 mile 1 furlongs, he’s rated an 11/4 shot and connections have no fears about the 1 mile 4 furlongs of this race but wouldn’t be for me at those odds against proven class winners over the distance.

Aidan O’Brien has the high class Mogul entered up and he’s around 7/2, he’s proven at the highest level over the 1 mile 4 furlongs and proven he can handle winning at different tracks in different countries with Group 1 wins in the Hong Kong Vase and at Longchamp in his last 3 runs, the other being a solid run at The Breeders Cup.

Walton Street represents Godolphin and has solid Meydan form easily winning a Group 2 on Super Saturday last time out but surely has to be proven he can mix it with proper Group 1 horses, the 9/2 quoted seems short to me.

Channel Maker and Loves Only You are much bigger prices than Walton Street, double or even treble the 9/2 in some places, but I’d say they probably have better profiles and could well represent each way options if that’s your thing.

Dubai World Cup

2014 :- 1st = AFRICAN STORY at 12/1 2nd = Mukhadram at 14/1, 3rd = Cat O’Mountain at 25/1
2015 :- 1st = PRINCE BISHOP (14/1) , 2nd = California Chrome (5/4 f), 3rd = Lea 4/1
2016 :- 1st = CALIFORNIA CHROME 15/8 , 2nd = Mubtaahij 16/1, 3rd = Hoppertunity 25/1
2017 :- 1st = ARROGATE 1/3f, GUN RUNNER at 7/1, Neolithic at 25/1
2018 :- 1st = THUNDER SNOW at 8/1, 2nd = West Coast at 5/4f, 3rd = Mubtaahij at 28/1
2019 :- 1st = THUNDER SNOW at 4/1, 2nd = Gronkowski at 28/1, Gunnevera at 12/1

Two short priced runners won this in 2016 and 2017 but three of the other 4 years had winners at 8/1, 12/1 and 14/1 and also several horses placed at big prices so betting wise it’s clearly not been the easiest race to work out and one that offers scope for the big priced punters.

Thoughts for 2021

Godolphin won the previous two renewals of the Dubai World Cup with Thunder Snow going back to back in 2018 and 2019 and this year they’ve got their hopes pinned on their American based hope Mystic Guide who heads the market at 5/2, he’s really interesting and clearly respected but 5/2 seems short to me.

Jesus’ Team is rated the main American hope for this huge prize and indeed connections skipped the chance to win the mega money Saudi Cup in preference for this race believing that the preparation time, the extra distance and set up of Meydan will suit much better, Jesus’ Team formlines stack up and I’d be of the opinion his 4/1 looks better than the 5/2 of Mystic Guide.

Local Dubai based opposition to the international runners are headed by Meydan favourites Military Law and Salute The Soldier, both are classy and proven at Meydan, both are highly capable, both sit around the 5/1 mark, not easy to split them but based on this season alone then Salute The Soldier has looked bang on form, he’ll be in my bets somewhere.

Hypothetical has also enjoyed a fantastic season in Meydan this year with classy and consistent performances, he’s mixed it with the best in Meydan and deserves his chance, not quite sure 7/1 is tempting enough but he’ll be trying for sure.

Godolphin have the favourite in Mystic Guide and they are also represented by the Andre Fabre trained Magny Cours who prepared for this by recently winning easily at Chantilly on the all-weather track, this will clearly be a huge step up but you don’t often see Andre Fabre taking chances for no reason, 8/1 is the mark for Magny Cours enthusiasts.

Of the rest entered then perhaps Sleepy Eyes Todd could be one to outrun his double figure odds quoted, I’m not sure on the strength of his form or suitability for Meydan but this race has produced surprises before.

Those are my early thoughts for this year’s Dubai World Cup day along with results from previous years and I really hope this helps and adds interest to what is always a brilliant days racing.