Superstar Arrogate ready to strike it rich again on Cup night
Arrogate is looking at securing another huge payday on Saturday when he will be red-hot favourite for the second richest race in the world, the Dubai World Cup.
The world champion has a whopping 16lb in hand on RPRs for the Meydan feature, so if everything runs to form he should be looking at a winning margin of around eight lengths.
At 2-5 he’s not much of a price, but it’s hard to envisage any of his rivals having the ammunition to get anywhere near the 136-rated superstar in a clean race and punters are effectively betting on whether the favourite runs his race or not.
As the next best on RPRs, Gun Runner (120) could be the one for the forecast, although Mubtaahij (118) has proven form at the track having produced his best three performances at Meydan. Those include a win in the UAE Derby and a second place in last year’s World Cup.
Postponed (126) is another big name in action on World Cup night when he bids to follow up last year’s win in the Dubai Sheema Classic.
He could finish only second behind Prize Money (117) on his return at Meydan last month, although he met trouble in running and it was being used a prep for the big day, so he should step forward.
Highland Reel (124) is next best behind Postponed on the figures. He finished fourth in last year’s Sheema Classic and was behind Postponed in the Juddmonte International, but he did finish ahead of Roger Varian’s star in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe later in the campaign.
The Irish globetrotter is a solid 120s performer and should give his running, although Aidan O’Brien’s horses aren’t known for hitting their peak this early in the year.
Jack Hobbs (122) and Seventh Heaven (121) are also potential winners on the figures, but neither have run since last year, so at the prices it could pay to side with Prize Money each-way. He’s tough, fit and raring to go.
There is more European interest in the Dubai Turf, in which Richard Fahey’s Ribchester (124) tops the ratings.
The four-year-old enjoyed a fantastic run of form last year, finishing a tight third in the Sussex Stakes behind The Gurkha and Galileo Gold before winning the Prix Jacques le Marois and then staying on for second behind Minding in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
Zarak, trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre, is currently favourite after landing a Group 3 at Meydan last month with a career-best RPR of 118, but he will need to improve again to match the ten-year average for winners of the Dubai Turf, which stands at 124.1.
Ribchester hasn’t had the benefit of a prep run but might just hold a class edge.
Limato appears best at 7f, whereas Ertijaal is a 5f specialist, so a meeting between the two over 6f should make things interesting.
As with the Sheema Classic, the result could come down to course form and match fitness, which would give Ertijaal the edge provided he can stretch his speed out over the extra furlong.
American trainers have a terrific record in the big sprint on the dirt on World Cup night, the Golden Shaheen, and Mind Your Biscuits (120) leads another strong challenge.
Wonder mare Winx looks unbeatable
Winx, the world’s best turf horse, proved she is effectively unbeatable in Australia after overcoming top-class rivals and bottomless ground to win Saturday’s George Ryder Stakes at Rosehill in a canter.
The heavy ground had been raised as a concern before her previous start, but she hacked up that day and followed up on even worse ground here, winning easily with one of the performances of her career.
Le Romain and Chautauqua were supposed to provide the main opposition, arriving on the back of a one-two finish in a Group 1 sprint, but they proved no match for the champion and were beaten upwards of seven lengths in second and third.
The winner looked untouchable and matched her peak RPR of 130+. That figure is the best in the world this year and there’s a chance Winx can build on it if regular pilot Hugh Bowman ever gets the urge to press the button, but he rarely needs to ask her to raise an effort in Australia because she’s so far clear of everything else.
That easy dominance looks set to continue with a domestic campaign for 2017 already mapped out, the next step coming in the AUS$4million Queen Elizabeth Stakes, which is the feature event on day two of The Championships at Randwick on April 8.
Instead it would be nice to see her stretched against a higher calibre of miler in the northern hemisphere, if only to see how high she could rate.