AS EVER, SELECTIONS NEAR THE BOTTOM FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO SKIP THE BLURB! :)

For much of last Thursday it looked like a disappointing day for your blogger. The Nap Artigiano did rescue the e/w money in the opener, but in the next I put up a horse that finished behind Ahtoug last time, and with the latter winning was kicking myself. Then Filfil was nutted on the post, having seemingly just about mastered the game winner One Man Band. Later, True Story was to be second to Vercingetorix (what was I thinking!)....

But then arrived salvation. Hunter's Light, put up at 8/1 overnight, proved the drop to handicap company was enough to restore confidence with a decisive victory. The 'right' hoses, such as Elleval, Mushreq and Almoonqith, were not far behind and I expect the race to work out very well in coming weeks.

So the blog score for January, the first four weeks of the Carnival, yielded 4 winners from 12 main selections (at best odds guaranteed) of 11/2 (a Nap), 9/2, 7/2 and 8/1, plus two placed e/w naps at 11/1 and 6/1, but just one of four e/w trebles paying out.
The support selections not nearly so smart but Beat Baby at 12/1 paid for a few disappointments and Almoonqith was a winner for the PS feature.
January Naps; Faulkner e/w Won 11/2; Energia Davos e/w 3rd 11/1; Haatheq 4/1 2nd(Lost); Artigiano e/w 3rd 6/1.

The PS segment may have been a little unlucky on Saturday with Genius Boy, missed the break and was flying in a closing third at the finish, having not had the clearest of runs. The other horse mentioned, State Law, did win, but at a very short price.

Amazing to think we are almost halfway through the Carnival already, excluding the two big meetings at the end. 62 runners contest 4 turf races (reserves, including, as pointed out by @smolyneux on twiitter) a Carnival winner, unable to get in). 
Yet the two dirt thoroughbred races have attracted a total of 17 runners, including four eight year olds in the second event. Just six for the UAE 1,000 Guineas.

Vast majority want to run on turf and only a few horses have really taken to the dirt surface. Sad state of affairs.

No doubt Super Saturday and Finals night will attract the Japanese and Americans and the dirt races will fill when the big bucks are on offer, but that shouldn't mask the fact that the switch to dirt was hasty, seemed to lack much consultation (from my admittedly outside view) and I think some people will be repenting at leisure.  . 

FEB 5TH.

Four big field turf races don't make for easy punting, that's for sure, hopefully managed to dig out three bets. infact although I've picked out three main bets as has been a fairly successful formula thus far, it's mainly about one horse for me.

Four Mike De Kock selections tonight, so if he has a disappointing night, the blog will end up disappointed! 
Multiples backers might also look at the Bin Suroor and Hannon yards, who should make a few dirams by about 6.20 too.

5.40 9.5F DIRT

 Let's start with that one, He's the class horse of the week. AFRICAN STORY (NAP) is eight now, untried on dirt, a come from behind horse and beaten in this contest last year. 
I sincerely hope that apparently potent combination will mean that bookies and punters climb the 'Wall of Worry' and give us a decent price.

Having made the case for the prosecution, let's look at the other side of this horse. Has only had 18 career starts, so not many miles on the clock considering his age. First time out form figures read 1,1,1,2. That defeat last year was widely acknowledged to be a rare off night for Silvestre De Sousa. Smoking a Havana in rear, allowed Prince Bishop an absurd amount of rope, and first run. A horse who stays further (and reopposes here) was never going to be caught even though a belatedly urgent SDS was closing hand over fist and clear of the rest inside the final furlong. Truth is the best horse lost that night through jockey error.
Bounced back to win a Group One on World Cup night, proving that the blip was exactly that. Surely 'The Doyler' won't be similarly profligate this time round.

This horse is a Class Act and is on of my more confident selections of the Carnival to date.

Surfer is likely to ensure a decent pace and little reason why he shouldn't get another decent trip as per his win for the blog last time, but this is a step up in class, where the balance of his form suggests place rather than win money.

Le Bernardin has proved himself a 'Beast' on this surface but this is a step up in class that for me will find him out. Cooptado was a revelation when winning last time and is one that can progress through the Carnival, but again could find this just too hot at this stage, while Emirates Flyer should do better than when not having the easiest of passages last time.

6.15 1 MILE TURF

Mike De Kock ran AJEEB (NB) over 5f last time and in the circumstances kudos to the horse for running to his rating, considering that he is a 7f to a mile horse. Back up to a mile here and with Group experience elsewhere (though not a win) can make class tell.
SlumdogMillionaire is another with Group form, but didn't show enough for me on reappearance in a fairly modest event, but Music Theory should strip fitter after a decent fourth to multiple winner Safety Check and rates a danger. Only a length behind after a horrid trip was Short Squeeze and there won't be much between the pair again.
Infrequent winner Avon Pearl always has the ability to spring a surprise, but needs so much to drop right and it'll be a miracle if if everything does from stall 16.

5.05 1 MILE 6F. TURF

Finding a third horse was a pretty thankless task this week, the vote ultimately going to STAR EMPIRE. Ran a fine race at a basically inadequate 10f on reappearance, and back up to 14f will be hard to beat. Beat Ahzeemah in this race in 2013 and is actually 6lbs better off tonight. However that rival has made progress since then and is sure to be on the premises. Meandre is a frustrating beast, but will probably pop up when least expected, though 14f is further than this horse has won over before.
Famous Kid could easily be overpriced as it's a few runs since his Newmarket 12f win which would entitle him to go close, worth a look in the market for a bit of value for an in form stable.

OTHER RACES IN BRIEF:

To be honest I don't have a strong opinion on any of them.

3.20 6F. TURF

You could make a case for virtually everything in the opener, and not helped by four reserves in waiting. Ninjago will be popular but lacks a recent run, as does My Catch but the latter is interesting having been thought good enough to run in the Golden Shaheen last year.

A low draw together and/or a recent outing should help, and even though it's only second ever try at 6f, Monsieur Joe might be worth the smallest dabble e/w after staying on eyecatchingly behind Hototo last time at the minimum trip, a race working out well and might go better than some expect.

I think the price might be tasty, however the selection is KERNOFF e/w. Won off a break last year and demolished a field of 80-100 rated handicappers at Dundalk when last seen, giving some of them a fair amount of weight. Can go well at what should be a good e/w price.

3.55 ONE MILE. DIRT

Only Listed status admittedly, but still a shocking renewal of the UAE 1000 Guineas, not a 100+ rated filly, just six taking part and four of them clashed in the trial, when Local Time ran down the front running Ad Idem close home. The extra furlong should help, but Good Place blew the start and did ok considering. Again the mile should help.
Yodelling is a dark one, two facile Kempton wins and could be anything, but I think Good Place has a chance to make amends here. All that said, AD IDEM is the subject of bullish reports from the De Kock barn, reportedly having come on a lot for the first run, and with the suspicion that the Godolphin contingent were probably fitter, a chance is taken that she can turn over some likely better backed rivals.

4.30 7F TURF.

The 4.30 revolves around FORRIES WALTZ. Mike De Kock thinks the world of this one, and while on ratings has plenty to find to upset Burnt Sugar, I think the selection might be overpriced and worth getting on before the bookies fully catch on. Mastermind is another with a chance, but the selection might not need to be 100% to score at a level i expect to be left far behind by Finals night

Good Luck if you play this week and as always thanks for reading :)

Singles, E/W Treble: First Prices added

5.05 Star Empire 4/1 Paddy Power Fair
5.40 African Story NAP Edit 5/2 Paddy Power. Fair.
6.15 Ajeeb NB 7/1 e/w Paddy Power. Borderline rick, that

PS: Jebel Ali on Friday. If SILVER GALAXY is a backable price (it may not be, as the race has cut up badly from original declarations when I was still all over it!), I will have a very decent bet. Was entered in the postponed Jebel Ali mile a fortnight ago, against 100+ rated horses. Still progressive even though beaten upped in grade last time, didn't seem to race on the best part of the track. With just five here, and a bunch of out of form rivals, looks a strong bet.
I just hope that ratings help determine prices, then we have a chance of a fair price.