African Story To Tell A Tale In Dubai
Dubai World Cup
Punters all over the globe will be glued to the television come Saturday teatime when the world’s richest race takes place in the shape of the Dubai World Cup (5.00).
Worth almost £4m to the winner, Meydan racecourse will again play host to what promises to be an absolute thriller, in which Godolphin’s 2014 winner of the race, African Story, is back to defend his crown.
Same Story For Godolphin?
This 8yo ran out a comfortable winner 12 months ago, when coming almost 3l clear of Mukhadram, and while not seen again in 2014, he won another Group 1 over the same C&D just three weeks ago. African Story beat Prince Bishop (14/1) on that occasion, who he also beat 11l in last year’s World Cup, where Side Glance (33/1) was beaten 8l in fourth.
While African Story will need to create history in becoming not only the first back-to-back winner of the Dubai World Cup, but also the oldest,
he has proven his recent form, has been there and done it, and looks decent each-way value if all nine runners go to post.
Standing in the way of another Godolphin win is the American hot-pot, California Chrome, who has been punted into 6/4 having won four Grade 1’s back home, including the Kentucky Derby and Preakness (1m2, fast).
The 4yo limbered up for this with a second in Grade 2 company at Santa Anita on his first outing since November last month, which should have put him spot-on. While he has class, the question remains as to whether he will handle this different Tapeta surface, which he faces for the first time. He reportedly worked well at the track on Tuesday morning, but there is a big difference between a gallop and a race.
If California Chrome has trouble with the surface, then there has to be value elsewhere, including the 4/1 second favourite, Lea. This 6yo also comes over from America, where he won a Grade 1 at Gulfstream Park over a year ago (1m1f, fast). He warmed up for this with a close second in a Grade 1 over the same venue last month, although he too faces this surface for the first time.
Far Eastern Delight?
Another who will be trying a new surface is the Japanese 5yo, Epiphaneia (7/1), who has only ever encountered turf back home, where he scooped a couple of Group 1’s, including the prestigious Japan Cup (1m4f, firm). That victory in November put Epiphaneia firmly on the map, and he will not be making up the numbers in Saturday’s field as he is the highest rated runner – even if the step back in trip may be on the sharp side.
Also coming from the Far East is Hokko Tarumae (12/1), who arrives on a roll having won his last three races, all of them Grade 1’s (including 1m2f, dirt). While the opposition he faced may not have been in the same league as he faces on Saturday, he undoubtedly has world-class ability and should handle the conditions, having won on dirt and muddy ground.
All eyes will be on last year’s Kentucky Derby winner, California Chrome, but he has now lost four of his last five races, unlike last year’s winner of the race, African Story, who is in form, proven over conditions, and represents good each-way value at 13/2.