ORIGINAL NAP A NON-RUNNER, SELECTIONS AMENDED WITH NEW NAP.

Last week, i suggested it would be no surprise if four or five favourites won, looking at the shape of the card. Blog Nap Think Ahead was only second, but if anyone followed the suggested e/w multiples covering all seven races, they should have had a rewarding 'pick-up', with four of them winning and the other three finishing second. A rare 'full house'!  Jamesie also filled the frame at a rewarding price.

Simply cannot let the number of entries this week pass without comment, on the dirt races. A topic the blog has returned to on a few occasions. Three for the UAE Oaks, six for a Group Three Sprint and a feeble four for the prestigious Al Bastakiya. 

Selections further down (section headed 'CHERRY-PICKING') for those who want to sensibly ignore my thoughts coming up, which i have 'sectioned (some say I should be :) ) off.

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Fact is many trainers no longer feel comfortable to risk their horses on this surface, and even some American bred supposed dirt horses have not taken to it. It physically looks to my eye uncomfortable on hold-up horses, (you can actually see that during races as they back-off) and as such personally believe Tapeta is kinder on the horse,  You simply don't see many top class horses beaten 25 lengths on Tapeta, but it is embarrassingly frequent on Dirt. Talented horses like Ertijaal and Cat O'Mountain beaten by much of the length of the straight is unedifying viewing. Simply no denying this.

It's no coincidence that in America, brought up on firm turf surfaces and 'dirt', horses run on lasix pretty much as a matter of course. Ask yourself, why do European horses have long successful careers on Tapeta or Fibresand without lasix?
Lasix doesn't make horses run faster as a direct consequence of being taken, rather it allows them to relax and stride out on the surface. That horses have lasix as a matter of course on dirt but not Tapeta should tell people something!

I'd say the answer therefore, why they don't come, is obvious. I understand dirt is second nature to American racing. That doesn't make it better. Maybe one of the issues they have with sending horses to Dubai is that they can't (and won't in the future) be allowed lasix.

But this is not all about lasix, lest I be accused of taking that view. And I am not against lasix per se, though believe the need for it would be much less if Tapeta ever became the surface of choice in the US.

The Carnival is not just about how many trainers will make the effort to turn up, once,on World Cup night, for the big bucks. Of course they'll risk the surface then. One eight race card though is not sufficient compensation for a whole season

While the arrival of Kiaran McLaughlin with horses like Marking and Frosted  has helped (though Godolphin owned before we get carried away), the surface has failed to attract the bigger fields it was intended for, the greater diversity of international raiders and the big competitive fields that should grace such a three month Festival of top class racing.

It may not be changed because of 'Political Correctness' and people thereby unwilling to speak their minds, but it should be in my view.

Certainly as the excellent @smolyneux has pointed out on twitter the entries aren't helped by the programme book or the two cards in three days this week, but changing that would imho possibly move, more than heal, the problem. Only one dirt race on Thursday(with three runners) so hardly causing much dilution.  

Has the Carnival been higher quality this year than previously? I don't see much difference in the average ratings of horses that have run, and fields on dirt are not bigger than a couple of years ago. So it's hard to argue logically that it has improved.

Anyway you don't want to hear me going on ad nauseam when you are after winners, so meantime onto this week's two cards. I will hopefully blog in more detail about this some time in the future, maybe when we get reactions from participants after the season is over.

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CHERRY-PICKING this week with two cards, on Thursday and then Super Saturday's exciting card. 

MAIN PICKS - THURSDAY.

In the opener, FIRST SELECTION (NAP) probably has the progressive Comicas to beat. The former has Ryan Moore's assistance and the devil in me thinks that Simon Crisford will be keen to showcase his talents in the backyard of his former Godolphin bosses. Comicas can't be in any way underrated and should make a real contest of this, but the two's overall form profiles at Class 2 and Class 3 level just point to the former and the new Nap vote goes to the Crisford runner.

In the 5.55 Battersea took all his time to get to Paene Magnus, with Famous Kid also running on well, last time, while Sheikhzayedroad and Star Empire are standing dishes round here. I wonder if it's a last throw of the dice and a desperate move, or what TELLINA (ew) has been crying out for, but didn't have the pace to cope with either Think Ahead or Tryster at 10f, so this trip might just enable the horse to spring a shock and worth a small e/w dabble.

Musaddas has looked progressive and confirmed a fine run behind Forries Waltz with a win last time and must go close. However in an open contest, LIMARIO (ew 12/1) now gets the replacement vote instead of original Nap Whistle Stop. Limario showed signs of a return to form last time having won off a 2lbs higher mark here last year. 

OTHER RACES.

FILS ANGES in the 5.20 brought decent back-form into last week's race and was perfectly entitled to win, and did it with a bit in hand. Must go well again in current mood.

Very Special looks progressive and will take plenty beating but this is a close race on the ratings, which for once are probably fairly reliable. More Aspen came into that race fit and on the back of a win, and was beaten fair and square on the day. It's whether Euro Charline is ready for the day as she bumped into Solow and Legatissimo last season so very Special should be thoroughly tested. no bet here in this 4.45, nor in the farcical three runner UAE Oaks.

MAIN PICKS - SATURDAY.

The Super Saturday card,has some excellent races, however from a betting point of view, with at least three odds-on favourites likely to win, does not shape up like a great betting day. Two bets only.

2.55 The Round 3 of the Maktoum Challenge, now this is a fantastic race. Keen ice has the dirt pedigree to be a Champion on the surface, as has the exciting Gun Pit.Fewer questions to answer for Mubtaahij and Faulkner who have been here and done it, while Watershed ran a very eye catching debut here last month. 

However there is one forgotten horse. Very much an each way bet though. GOLD CITY (ew 25/1) can make the frame. Chased home Frosted last time, and has fine placed Group One form behind the likes of Tamarkuz and Variety Club. no reason atall why the horse shouldn't once again run a fine race here.

My only other bet on the card comes in the 2.20. LE BERNARDIN (SATURDAY NAP) won bravely earlier in the Carnival, before running a fine fourth in the Firebreak, behind Confrontation, One Man Band and Watershed. The enigmatic Layl rather let the earlier form down last time, but can emerge as the biggest threat here if putting it all in and Cool Cowboy should also be thereabouts. 

Thanks as always for looking in and hopefully an exciting week ahead!