Always frustrating when the headline horse goes down as last Thursday, but hopefully it didn't completely overshadow the success of the other two main bets of the week, with Anaerobio and Forries Waltz winning at nice enough prices, particularly for anyone who got on early around 9/2 and 11/2 respectively..

It's a much better card I think this week,with a particularly tasty Round Two of the Al Maktoum Challenge featuring the likes of Surfer, Special Fighter, Prayer for Relief and Faulkner,

Ertijaal was a huge eyecatcher last week (not to be confused with a different horse (sprinter) of the same name running this week).

MAIN BETS

4.10 The first bet of the night is MORE ASPEN (NAP).Had a couple of today's rivals well behind when scoring here in January and has only gone up 5lbs to a mark of 104 for beating 113 and 110 rated horses in that race. A progressive type and on a line through Big Baz, second that day and who previously defeated Very Special at Kempton, has about 10lbs in hand of Very Special at level weights. Si Luna is the highest rated in this field, but has a three month absence to overcome and the racefit selection is Napped to take advantage.

5.55 There's no question that One Man Band is a very progressive horse and easily completed the hattrick when flooring blog pick Emirates Flyer last time. Will surely set out to make all again here and prove difficult to catch, while Mubtaahij with form figures here of 11211 must be a player despite the absence, and the Kiaran McLuaghlin pair are also of interest, but LE BERNARDIN can follow up a game success here 28 days ago. Had a very hard race there and I'm sure some punters will avoid the horse, fearing the dreaded 'Bounce' factor. I can see that argument, however to beat Layl, Faulkner and co was a superb effort and given that he should get a lovely sit in second behind One Man Band, is taken to get the run of the race and score again. 28 days is probably long enough to help avert the 'Bounce'.

6.30 Some familiar faces here, and this can again go to SANSHAAWES who is taken to get the better of old rival Elleval. At the weights again likely to be little between them, but I just feel that Sanshaawes is the one with Group Class form in the book and that is just enough to sway me. I'd expect a very bold bid from the front from James Doyle aboard Think Ahead, a decent third on reappearance behind Munaaser and Good Contact.

OTHER RACES

I'll leave the opening sprint, and the second round of the Maktoum Challenge from betting points of view - stall 16 is all or nothing for Ertijaal in the sprint, who has a good chance, while in the Maktoum, Layl, Prayer for Relief and Faulkner were separated by heads at the finish last time. The feeling was that Layl was unlucky, but the step up in trtip might suit Faulkner, so it's a no bet race for me. Frosted's presence just adds to the spice of the race.

Finally in the stayers race, Star Empire will again be popular with players, and has an excellent chance, while Famous Kid, even though beaten third at odds on last time, should not be discounted. The winner of that race, Moonrise Landing, was completing a treble, while the second and fourth have both won since. Famous Kid had plenty of today's rivals behind indeed when taking this race last year, and is likely to have been primed for a repeat attempt. It's not a two horse race and I'll take something of a flyer with PAENE MAGNUS (e/w 11/1 Hills is nice) who stayed on strongly at a slightly shorter trip last time. It's his first try at this trip but a mark of 100 in this handicap looks lenient for a horse who has won in Listed company in the past.

MAIN BETS. Win Singles and e/w Treble: Early prices added

4.10 More Aspen (NAP) 7/2 paddy power. Fair imho, hoping market opts for Very Special and we get slightly better.
5.55 Le Bernardin 4/1 Ladbrokes. Hopeful people will oppose on basis of bounce factor and bigger price
6.30 Sanshaawes 13/2 Hills Decent imho.

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EDIT; Loads of twitter chat re Frosted in the Maktoum. Plenty good judges in favour and the horse has to be, and is, respected, by me. Has Group form in the States, and being beaten by a Triple Crown hero (American Pharoah of course) is absolutely no shame. I'm told he's done some speedwork too. Mike De Kock has said he'll be a tough nut to crack. (But Mike says a lot of things :) ).
 
All that said is now odds-on, a horse with no experience of the Meydan dirt, ran flat last time ('over the top' maybe, but still flat) and is returning from an absence. if everything drops right and he is the 'real deal' he can win and will stamp himself a serious World Cup contender without any doubt. Part of me would love to see him do it, love a top class exciting horse and he has the potential to be exactly that. 

Has been beaten though on five of his last six starts, so do i want to take odds on? Not personally, the balance of probability is that he will come on for the run even though his trainer is a fine first time out trainer, his target is in late March, not early February. Won't have lasix tomorrow either.

First run out of his comfort zone too imho. Had a 'very long' 2015 so you could argue he's out of season. Kind of reminds me of Able Friend at Royal Ascot, people wouldn't hear of defeat but he was a false price on the day.

Do they ride from the front and risk a stamina test with Layl taking him on, or sit in behind and risk being too far back? Odds on tomorrow, no thanks, but genuine good luck to players. Can't wait to see the race, not having a bet but will be a fascinated viewer!

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ONE FOR THE ROAD; A shame that last week's pick went off odds on, though in fairness won like his price suggested he should.
This week there's a Friday morning card at Jebel Ali and HAATHEQ is taken to get the better of old rival Interpret, though it should be a good race between the pair. Haatheq ran in the aforementioned Le Bernardin race last time and has excellent Jebel form, even though behind Interpret in 2014 here. The latter was outpaced before running on behind Sefri last week and is a danger but this time there's only a week for the horse to get over that comeback run - and it might just take its toll.

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Thanks as always for your time and visit.