A cracking week for blog followers last week, I hope, with Mufarrh striking at 14/1 on Thursday, Plantagenet (12/1 was available) proving the value of @trakusracing's superb analysis and Kavanagh landing the weekend Nap at a nice enough 10/3 (price suggested) on Saturday.


It's 'final trials' day this Saturday ahead of World Cup night on March 30th, and it's a card worthy of its billing. Most races you could make a good case for around half the field, so it's as you'd expect top level and high class racing. Finding winners isn't going to be easy, but here's my attempt, for better or worse.... :)

No prices available at time of writing on Thursday afternoon.

The first vote goes to AWAIT THE DAWN (Meydan 2.50) NAP. A staying on 9th behind Hunter's Light (good final 200 metres time) was left behind as this horse absolutely smashed up an inferior field of handicappers last time. A 3 length Group Two winner at Royal Ascot in the past, so this return to hotter company holds no fears. last week's game winner Plantagenet who got the better of previous Carnival winner Con Artist continues on the upgrade but this is a big ask, while Jakkalberry is interesting but missed an engagement last week, and may well have finals night as its ultimate target. Laajooj is interesting having continued to progress when winning last time, but i think/hope he's run into one this time.

The danger could easily be the progressive Masterstroke who beat Gatewood at Deauville in the summer, and as a 4yo is more likely still on the upgrade than Cavalryman, now seven. However the suspicion might be that this is more of a target for the latter, with finals day, or a summer campaign, in mind for Masterstroke.

The preceding race may well lie between Time Prisoner, a winning blog nap earlier in the campaign, and KRYPTON FACTOR (Meydan 2.15). The return to 6f holds no fears for the talented Zarooni runner. Three successes at the trip and the recent success was emphatically franked by Dux Scholar dropping to 5f subsequently, however marginal preference is for Krypton Factor. The third to Mental looks a fine effort after Kavanagh (second) bolted up in a slightly easier sprint last week.
Any bet I have here will be price dependent as there might be e/w value in Time Prisoner if Krypton Factor is priced up too short. A rev f/c is another possibility.
Just don't feel the ReynaldotheWizard/Balmont Mast form is as strong as that of the two principals.

We need to take a view in races four and five on the American raiders, Dullahan and Little Mike. I might well get it wrong in both cases, but for me it's interesting that Dullahan has never won over a trip this short, so the chances of it being a sharpener is increased, but not conclusive! That's the line I'm adopting though, for better or worse. No surprise if the horse wins, however maybe will help make the market for some of the others.

Barbecue Eddie will be popular with punters, however I do think this task is beyond this admirable gelding and I can't see him reversing form with Moonwalk In Paris. The progressive Oratorio gelding could not have been more impressive than when absolutely bolting up here last time, going away at the end. Has to progress again, but would be no surprise atall if he did.
French Prix Jean Prat winner Aesop's Fables is another who merits utmost respect, but I'm rowing in with AFRICAN STORY e/w (Meydan 3.25). First time out form figures read 1,1,1 and it doesn't come any better than that. Has to be said that Mikhail Barzalona has had a very difficult Carnival but i think he's on the class act here. Perhaps the pick of his form was a head second to Moonlight Cloud, conceding that rival 8lbs, in France in 2011, but looked as good as ever when winning a Group Two by four lengths on Finals night here last year.

The aforementioned Little Mike takes on the likes of last year's World Cup hero Monterosso, Japanese raider Trailblazer and recent Carnival winner Hunter's Light in the 4.00. What a race this is, I well remember the Singapore horses arriving at the Carnival last year and absolutely blitzing the opposition on their first runs. they didn't go on (equally spectacularly in a sense) Who can forget Ip Man's devastating performance though for example, and that means Trailblazer is feared greatly. Japan won this race in 2010 with Red Desire.

More so infact, than Monterosso, who has slightly tended to come on for a run in the past. Little Mike won at the Breeders Cup, perhaps getting first run on an unlucky in running Point of Entry, but this 10f might actually be more his trip, and is another to consider but the vote goes to HUNTER'S LIGHT. (Meydan 4.00)

I've referred to how much i like that race (ad nauseam, sorry!!) in the past. It's easy enough to point out that the 6th, 8th and 9th have all franked the form, but for me much more significant was that these three winners had the second third and fifth fastest come home (final 200 metre) times in the race off an erratic pace. 
The fourth fastest, Jamr, was beaten a week later but it was that one's fourth quick run and probably the exertions had taken their toll.
The horse with the fastest final 200 metres was... Hunter's Light. And he absolutely thrashed them, winning 3 1/2 lengths. Those who reoppose from that race here, i can see no reason for them to turn the tables and that's why I am with this horse here.

The finale is desparately trappy. Igugu was backed as if defeat was out of the question last time, but Christophe Soumillon went like a bat out of hell mid-race and the horse had no chance, plugging on pretty gamely in the circumstances to be third, well behind Sajjhaa who was winning its second Carnival race there. It's hard to see Sajjhaa out of the frame here, but what of Igugu? i suspect Igugu will be backed off the boards again, my concern this time is the bounce factor. That was its first run for thirteen months, after a difficult quarantine period and interrupted preparation. Might easily prove too classy, but 16 days just isn't a lot of recovery time from an undeniably hard race.

The Apache beat City Style and Sharestan (trouble in running and exaggeratedly held up) last time, though interestingly finished behind Igugu in South Africa. So Beautiful looks held on previous running by Sharestan, while Master of Hounds made all to beat City Style in this race last year.

In the end, I think this lies between SHARESTAN e/w (Meydan 4.35) and Sajjhaa. The latter has done nothing wrong in its two unfussy wins here, and form behind Izzi Top and Midday is top notch. That said, SDS has ridden both these horses in their two runs this season, and while Godolphin bookings have been easily ignored this season with no obvious rhyme or reason, he's on Sharestan this time and that indicates to me the unlucky run last time can be ignored.
If Igugu wins head in chest don't be surprised, but after much agonizing, I'm going with Sharestan!

The opening two races (excluding the Arab race) make least appeal from a punting point of view. The once raced Secret number might easily be good enough in a race where nearly all have question marks, but I napped ELLEVAL e/w (Meydan 1.05) last time and the horse didn't quite progress from first run as I'd hoped, but briefly got caught on heels and had to run on what i think might be the slightly slower inside rail up the straight. Given a wet sail from a bit further off the rail here, has a chance to atone, but would not be a strong bet in a surprisingly weak opener to the card.

Then there's the sprint.... Sole Power, as is his wont, got going just too late in this race last year, failing narrowly to catch Invincible Ash. It'll be interesting to see if Russian Rock attempts to back up what i hope will be a win in the Jebel sprint on Friday morning, while Shea Shea needed the run behind Medicean Man (reopposes) last time and has an excellent chance though the price is artificially shorty because of connections, who i know regard this horse highly. Russian Soul has five consecutive seconds, and so deserves to land one, (three wins and six seconds last ten starts), while Spirit Quartz and Monsieur Joe have their chances.
Finding the winner is a pin job. RUSSIAN SOUL (e/w) must go close and is suggested e/w.

I am speechless at some of the prices!

E/W Singles; E/W Accy:

1.05 Elleval 10/1
1.40 Russian Soul 20/1 (that's just mad, horse has three wins and six seconds on last ten starts)
3.25 Moonwalk in Paris 6/1 (11/2 Morning)
4.35 Igugu 4/1 (7/2 morning); At 8/1(Betfred/Tote) I think it's hard to see Sajjhaa out of the frame here and worth a look above 5/4 in place only markets.

Win Singles E/W Fourfolds/Accy:

2.15 Krypton Factor (11/8, should be odds on)
2.50 Await the Dawn (2/1 NAP)
3.25 African Story (11/4)
4.00 Hunter's Light (10/3 NB) 3/1 morning
4.35 Sharestan (4/1) 7/2 morning

Best Three: Await the Dawn NAP; Hunter's Light NB, and Krypton Factor.

EDIT: For anyone who has a spare quid burning a hole, and likes a stats bet,Jamr (4.00) just might be a throwaway 50p e/w.... I've referred to the fact that the horses with second, third and fifth fastest final 200 metres times in the earlier Hunter's Light race last month have all won since - and that Hunter's Light (fastest) reappears today. Jamr is the odd man out, 4th fastest, and while I doubt he can reverse form with that winner, there were excuses for the run a week later and at 50/1 with Bet365, well just maybe can get a place.

Thanks for reading as ever, hope you have enjoyed and maybe even made a few notes along the way, and if you got this far, well done, but i fear your dinner is probably in the cat! :)