A hugely Happy New Year to all readers. After a great break over Christmas and New Year (it was good to sign off the blog with a winning Nap for 2012) the blog returns with Meydan on Thursday, and a tremendously competitive start to the Carnival with several oversubscribed fields and high quality racing.

I hope it isn't starting with an excuse (get them in first lol!) to say i don't remember such a high quality and difficult start to the Carnival for punters, however I've hopefully identified around seven or eight horses which i think will help towards a profitable ten weeks or so, and looking at individual races along the way.

I've narrowed the opener down to three, with jockey bookings telling something of a tale. Christophe Soumillon, number one for Mike De Kock, taking an outside ride on ARIETE ARROLLADOR e/w 8/1 Paddy Power (Meydan 3.05). This horse came home in this race last year over the last 2f in a blistering sub 23 seconds, failing to catch Barbecue Eddie from the rear narrowly,  and looks the one to beat.
De Kock will be keen to bloody Soumillon's nose and Final Button gives him a real chance of doing so. In his stable tour, the South African handler highlighted this as 'very well handicapped' and added 'will start in handicaps, hopefully progressing to higher grade over the ten weeks.'
He has highlighted the horse's wellbeing, again, in recent days. The third horse here is Ger Lyons's Dundalk hattrick winner in the autumn, Lily's Angel. Highly progressive and we know about this horse's fitness so these three might be well worth trying in forecast (tricast if available too) combos, with only marginal preference for the selection to come out on top.

I'll pass on the sprint, putting it in the impossible category (a low draw for anyone playing probably an advantage), but will be getting on the three times raced FARRIER 8/1 e/w Paddy Power (Meydan 4.15). Form figures of 1,2,1 and still looks to have further improvement to come from an exploitable 96 and with a fine draw in 2. Kassiano and Rocks Off are others to consider here but i think they've 'run into one' today.

Former John Oxx inmate Sharestan has a good chance in the 4.50, likely to get a soft enough lead, however there are too many guesses to be made here on fitness for a bet, and in the 5.25 the aforementioned Barbecue Eddie may well have his rivals on toast (groan!), though Paul Hanagan has muddied the waters by selecting Mufarrh in preference to 'Eddie' so I'll pass as Fulbright is another with a decent chance and this is dangerously more open than it might appear at first glance.

The finale can go the way of TAMAATHUL e/w 14/1 Paddy Power (Meydan 6.00 NAP). In good form, this is a drop in class after a win over Rutland Boy last time and i'll be hoping that the form is franked in the previous race as it ran well behind the much mentioned Barbecue Eddie too!
There are question marks about nearly all of this horse's rivals today regards last season's form and or current fitness and the selection looks the day's most solid option. Slightly irritating that Singapore raider, Freezemaster, gets in from a reserve berth as I rate this one the danger. The oriental horses came into the Carnival last year and ran massive races first time out (Ip Man was an example). However Stall 16 is a major negative in my book on this occasion, (as is 14 for the unexposed Lockwood) so Tamaathul is readily selected. I think the horse handles turf fine.

The Jebel card on Friday morning looks much more straightforward, and I expect HAATHEQ and TREBLE JIG to be among the winners there.

EDIT: See Prices above e/w singles on the three Meydan selections and an e/w patent. All three are bigger than i expected.

Prices based on Paddy Power, only bookie up at time of typing, well done to them!

E/W Singles E/W Patent:

3.05 Meydan: Ariete Arrollador e/w (Edit: 9/1 Bet 365) and saver Final Button also e/w. Combo f/cs and if poss tricasts add in Lily's Angel.
4.15 Meydan: Farrier e/w (6/1 Paddy Power from 9/1)
6.00 Meydan: Tamaathul NAP e/w (14/1 Paddy Power) Also a smaller e/w on Freezemaster.

 Welcome back all, thanks for reading and if there are any fancies for Friday at Dundalk, I'll update nearer the time(24 hour decs grrrr!).