After two great weeks when the blog put up 6 out of 12 winners, the last fortnight has been a different story, with just Soft Falling Rain obliging last week. It will be very interesting to see whether the horse is asked to tackle his elders such as the impressive winner Moonwalk In Paris next time.

I do think this week's card is more 'tractable' in betting terms, but time will tell! As always this is written when there is no market formed. Hopefully Wednesday evening will see first offerings from Paddy Power and maybe Ladbrokes by 8pm. See Edits and updates,

The talking horse of the Carnival Igugu makes its long awaited appearance here. Mike De Kock has made no secrets about his admiration for this six year old by Galileo out of an Intikhab mare. Has even been very strongly touted as a horse for World Cup night. If that is to be the case, has to win this far less testing race. 
The form of that latest win has hardly been franked with the second and third not showing much on subsequent runs, but I did see a picture of this horse on twitter the other day, and does look the real deal, though a photo hardly reveals everything of course! :) 

I hope she bolts up, even though seems sure to be odds on, but whether (and if so how) I will play this race depends entirely on the market. See Edits. Her principal rival is Sajjhaa, a Nap winner for the blog of a Group Two last time. With experience round here and much more battle hardened than Igugu in that sense, if she had been an each way price I would have played but Igugu at 5/6 proved irresistible.

EDIT: Although listed in UK publications as a mare, I'm reliably informed she is a filly. There's a superb write up by Geoff Riddle (@louchepunter on twitter) about Igugu, and what he has to say is massively relevant....

They would indicate she could easily be a market drifter and still win as she can, he says, be difficult in the prelims. Also my own thought after a year off, she might, like Soft Falling Rain was, be a bit keen early in the race. I can't however believe De Kock will have her anything but geared up to win here, and a defeat of Sajjhaa would be a fine yardstick.

His handicappers have needed a run, but when he unleashes the real big guns (witness Soft Falling Rain) they are usually ready to fire first up. 

De Kock has won this contest 5 times in nine years.

Quotes from the Riddle article include; 

'She does not walk well. She often sweats in the parade ring and goes down to the starting gates awkwardly.

Once the gates open, however, it is an entirely different story, resulting in 10 wins from 12 career starts. In those two defeats Igugu finished second.

"She has never been a filly that gives you confidence before a race as she does everything she shouldn't do but I wouldn't change that," De Kock said.'

Other Races:

In the opener much will depend if AWAIT THE DAWN (Meydan 3.15), down in Grade, can put behind a poor effort on reappearance when well beaten (missed the break badly) behind Hunter's Light. If not then Group Three winner Starboard, impressive at Longchamp, might be the danger. Got the run of the race out in front that day, and there's the chance that if Kieren Fallon can set the fractions, in this small field, then the others could be in trouble. However I'll go with Await the Dawn to bounce back. That Hunter's Light race might turn out to have been a very good one by the end of next month.
EDIT: Since writing this paragraph, i have seen indications that Starboard will need the run, in which case it could be left to Mikhail Glinka to give the selection most to do.

MUSIR (Meydan 5.35) comes back from a failed stud career. I'm hoping he won't be firing blanks this week. In his four seasons, has first time out figures of 1,1,2,1, including beating Master of Hounds decisively in 2012. That horse heads some good rivals here, including upset winners Le Drakkar, Mandaean and Iguacu Falls. Mushreq beat the progressive Royal Empire two runs ago before running mid division in that hot aforementioned Hunters Light race last time. The last named might be the biggest threat and could go overlooked in the market so I might well have an e/w saver.

The mile handicap looks weak enough and with not many players the vote goes to MURAWEG e/w (Meydan 5.00) NB. The run behind Barbecue Eddie is easily forgiven as the Kheleyf gelding is not in that class. That run was flanked by placed efforts at 6f behind Ganas and Seachantach at the weekend. That last run might have put the horse spot on for the return to a mile here. Sandagiyr would be the more obvious form pick, however is likely to be short in the market for a horse that hasn't shown a great deal in the finish in recent runs. Maritimer is another to consider.

The sprint is at the end of the card this week. Medicean Man beat a host of these three weeks ago. Has another good draw and might well get a toe into the race from Inxile next door, while Russian Soul was arguably a tad unlucky in that race and must go close again. Dux Scholar drops to 5f for the first time, and while I don't think he will win, this must be a sharpener for something in the near future. Keep an eye on him, his second to our winning Nap Time Prisoner earlier in the Carnival at 7f was a good effort and he did lead a long enough way out, indicating he can go well here at a price. No bet. 

The Nap, if anyone is still reading (unlikely!) goes to CON ARTIST (Meydan 3.50 Nap). A fine second to Kassiano, a winner since, having led a furlong out and rallied really well close home after being headed (pair well clear). It does mean I'm taking on the Boss of Jebel, Treble Jig. I just thought that horse was a bit keen last week here, and might have had enough racing just for the moment. Specific Gravity finished very strongly from a poor draw here on Saturday and rates another danger, however that wasn't as warm a contest as this and Con Artist gets the Nap vote, Should be a backable price.

bets based on first prices from paddy power.

Win Singles/Win and E/W trebles/fourfold:

3.15 Await the Dawn (4/1)
3.50 Con Artist Nap (5/2 from 3/1)

4.25 Igugu (5/6)
5.35 Musir (13/8)

E/W Single

5.00 Muraweg NB (13/2) hope for better 

Thanks for reading and good luck! :)