Probably charitable to suggest that last week was a mixed bag, not great, though two winners (Reynaldo and Tamarkuz) and an e/w third (Elleval) from the selections. With the Nap and NB both failing to make the frame, it certainly wasn't what I was hoping for in truth, but at least progress, after the week before's first blank of the Carnival.

AS EVER, SELECTIONS NEAR THE BOTTOM IF YOU WANT TO SKIP THE WEEKLY WAFFLE :)

Once again, despite three close finishes on the dirt, as suggested only a few horses really counted in the four races. Centimetres away from four repeat winners, with Layl and Mubtaahij both missing out narrowly, while ReynaldotheWizard and Tamarkuz both won. I can't see that pattern changing now, just look at the dirt form for the dirt races in essence.

The Nap had made all on its previous run, which is fine even if a horse is not necessarily in love with the surface, but missed the break this time and settled behind the leaders never faced the kickback, always wanting to sit far enough behind to be out of the worst of it, but that meant poor track position when push came to shove.

The turf races were much more competitive. Anyone who found Limario in the finale deserves a medal, but the other two winners, Tha'ir and Emirates Flyer both had sound handicap claims. Sanshaawes ran solidly, and stayed well enough, but needs a few pounds respite from the assessor. Perhaps the disappointment of the day was the widely touted Teletext. Looked to me as though he has a soft ground action, which he's unlikely to find useful here. At least will be better for the race though, coat gleaming but was carrying plenty of condition.

One other footnote, Christophe Soumillon almost had to sit side-saddle in the stalls on Rock Cocktail, not because the horse was being awkward, but has about the largest backside of any flat horse I can remember. I'd imagine the horse takes plenty of work to get fit, and might not be one to give up on. Pedigree would suggest a mile as well, not sure he saw out the 10f last Thursday.

The PS, Roi De Vitesse, looked like winning a furlong out but couldn't stop an in form Paul Hanagan on Mashaaref, and had to settle for second. Plenty 11/2 available in the morning though, so hopefully no damage done with the each way.

19th FEB

I'm not going to deny it, one look at this card and a few races looked like heading for the 'impossible' category! but nothing ventured. Ironic this week, the dirt races are full as everyone tries to get a run, and a few spaces in the turf events, where some you suspect had given up trying to get in :)

3.20 5F Turf

HOTOTO won the opening sprint at this year's Carnival, and with subsequent winner Ahtoug in arrears, who came out and beat a whole bunch of these runners here next time, has a good chance to go in again. However Medicean Man was a big eyecatcher behind Ahtoug and went into just about everyone's notebook staying on from the rear, having missed a previous engagement at Lingfield due to a minor setback.
Looked sure to come on for that run and beat Hototo into third in this race last year by 2 lengths, yet is 1lb better off here. The 9yo is sure to be popular at the head of the market, and rightly so, however the nod just goes to the Hototo in the hope that as a 5yo is coming to his career peak.

Mashaaref spoilt the party for blog PS Roi De Vitesse on Saturday, and makes a quick reappearance. Any in form sprinter merits respect and could easily make the frame at big odds, but this is the 7yo's first try at the minimum trip on 25th career start and it might just all happen a bit too fast up front.
There's been a lot of conjecture over the draw on the sprint track, and Hototo has stall one, which might be all or nothing, but hopefully will prove an advantage for a likely front runner.

3.55. 1 Mile Dirt.

Not perhaps as tricky as at first glance. Suspect you know my angle to rely on proven dirt form. Layl steps up in grade after a narrow defeat last time, but I'm not atall sure this horse is anything more than a grinder, and the drop in trip doesn't feel as though it will suit, despite the addition of first time headgear.

HAATHEQ e/w has run with plenty of credit behind the likes of Surfer, Tamarkuz and Frankyfourfingers, entitling the the 8yo to the utmost of respect and dropped in company, is worth another chance. Hard to see the horse out of the frame, but a threat is Romansh.

Unfortunately we learnt nothing last week as Romansh appeared to clip heels soon after the break and was allowed to hack round in his own time thereafter. However he was well backed and given that Haatheq was about 5 lengths behind Tamarkuz previously, perhaps this horse would have got similarly close last week (in a better race than this) and so Romansh e/w as an alternative is not something i could put anyone off.

4.30 10 furlongs Turf

Umgiyo was an impressive winner earlier in the Carnival, displaying a blistering turn of foot, and even though the placed horses have let the form down since, I don't think we can crab the winner for thrashing what was in front of him in very impressive style. Equally impressive though was HUNTER'S LIGHT when dropping into handicap company and winning like the good thing he looked on paper. Listed Company will hold no fears for this multiple Group winner and though i expect Umgiyo to be flying at him at the finish, just prefer the selection.

Mr Pommeroy is a progressive horse, unlucky arguably when Barzalona dropped his whip and nutted by HaafaGuinea on the line, before a perfectly honourable fourth behind Vercingetorix last time.
Bank of Burden looks to have a tough task on at the weights and the same surely applies to the rest who look mainly handicappers in a Listed race.

5.05 10 Furlongs Dirt

Another in the near impossible tray.
Might be best to try to keep it simple. It's likely that I'm Back will try to repeat the tactic of his mile win last time, away and gone from stall one, showing impressive tactical speed early to bag the rail and the lead, then never seeing another rival. Has the same draw again, even though up two furlongs, but 6lbs better from I'm Back's win two runs ago, for just over 3 lengths, is ARTIGIANO e/w.

A very smart 2yo, on one occasion only half a length behind Olympic Glory, Has never quite regained these heights, but should the 5 year old gelding bounce back, that touch of undoubted class makes him the selection. Further he suffered from a poor trip last time, covering over 20 metres more than I'm Back ( @trakusracing data) and now has first time blinkers too.

The sometimes fizzy Saxo Jack has a nice handicap mark and is respected, while Toolain sprung a 40/1 stunner last time and Le Bernardin is another who has been in good form.
Farrier is many people's favourite cliff horse, (never really understood why), but looks held by both I'm Back, and to a lesser extent, Toolain.

5.40 10 Furlongs Turf

CLADOCERA (NAP) won the Trial for this race with all bar two of this week's rivals behind. Zurigha got closest and may well do so again despite the stable's abysmal strike rate here, but Cladocera is only 3lbs worse and won with plenty in hand last time.
An almost automatic selection in the sort of race where trying to be too clever rarely pays, and confirmed further as the only two not to have run in the trial simply don't appear anywhere near good enough.

6.15 7f Turf

This threatens to be carnage. Most of the fancied horses are usually held up, and drawn wide here. i can see some real hard luck stories, and as such I think it might be that Christophe Soumillon's trackcraft gets the better of Jamie Spencer's sit and wait approach.
As so often in Meydan handicaps, it's at the top of the weights where the likeliest winners reside. Spencer's mount, Eastern Rules, has twice finished ahead of ANAEROBIO in recent clashes, but the latter, progressive throughout last year's Carnival, might have been in need of the outing last time when staying on late, having had a horror passage through the race, into a never threatening fourth behind Safety Check.

Dark Emerald and Fils Anges are recent winners, while Free Wheeling has dropped to a feasible, previous winning, mark, but Professor might be more of a threat. Showed he retains plenty of ability when defeating Trade Storm at Haydock last July, well backed, and a similar market move here would be interesting. Likely to be a tempting double figure price in the early exchanges. Had a notably quiet ride a fortnight ago off a break, when less than 6 lengths behind Samurai Sword.

BETS. Back to the usual format this week, three Main Bets. 

I'd really have liked to Nap Forjatt from the PS (see below) as that looks the best bet around for me this week by a country mile, but that's just not playing ball, and so I'll go for Cladocera as the Nap.

An unimaginative Thursday Nap then, but I'd have it around 4/7 and so 10/11 actually looks value to me.

Singles, E/W Treble:

3.20 Hototo e/w 11/2 Betfair Several
3.55 Haatheq e/w (NB) 6/1 Several
5.40 Cladocera 10/11 NAP Racebets. Any odds against I will take And if available would become my first Maximum Bet of the Carnival. Meantime, have had a decent chunk of 10/11

Other Selections; Singles; Artigiano e/w (8/1); Anaerobio e/w (5/1); (Adding in Medicean Man e/w (6/1) and Umgiyo (e/w (9/2) for a Minimum stakes e/w lucky 15).
Also Hunters Light.
Finally, just for amusement's sake a little e/w on Professor at 33/1+ in the lucky last. Silly silly price.

PS:
Despite a 2nd at the weekend, (was put up e/w), the PS feature has yielded a few nice winners. Four weeks ago I put up FORJATT as a confident selection for the Jebel Ali Mile. Unfortunately the meeting was cancelled, but the race has been saved for this Friday morning's card.

I'm happy to row in again. Silver Galaxy was, and is, my idea of the danger and has come out and won since, a facile success, and that actually might mean Forjatt is a more backable price this time. Could be a good race between the pair but FORJATT loves it here, and is the selection. He won this race last year and the third to Vercingetorix, albeit on turf, beaten under a length when actually conceding 2lbs, stands head and shoulders above this lot.
Muarrab should also win the finale on the card, but the price might be prohibitive.

As ever, many thanks for your time :)