Axelrod – Sandeep Jadav
At the time of writing, it’s difficult to predict exactly which horses from the USA are being targeted at the Dubai World Cup, but Axelrod is one who certainly is. Currently listed as still with trainer Michael McCarthy, Axelrod is due to ship out and join the stable of Sandeep Jadav in the next few weeks or so. A winner of a pair of Grade 3 contests in America last season, his best effort was when runner-up to McKinzie in the Pennsylvania Derby at Parx in September. He was then far from disgraced in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, finishing ninth (beaten less than 8 lengths) with McKinzie behind him. A recent fourth over an inadequate 7f (behind McKinzie once more) should have put him spot on for a Carnival campaign. At the current odds of around 16/1, and with his participation all but confirmed, Axelrod is certainly worth an each-way interest in the big one at this stage.
Ekhtiyaar – Doug Watson
Ekhtiyaar had been off for 5 months when finishing an encouraging third on debut for the Doug Watson yard in a 7f handicap on the opening night of the Carnival. He made a big move to get into contention before lack of a recent outing, and the fact he was stretched a little by the trip, both took their toll. Twice a winner for Roger Varian in 2017, Ekhtiyaar had a light campaign last year, and as a result looks attractively handicapped at the moment, particularly with a view to dropping back down in trip. While he’s no world beater, he looks more than capable of paying his way in sprint handicaps over the next few months.
Estihdaaf – Saeed bin Suroor
Estihdaaf has already made one outing at the Carnival, that coming when he was down the field in a minor 7f turf contest last week. On a night when several of his trainer’s runners underperformed, it’s probably worth giving the well-backed Estihdaaf a pass for that poor run. The intriguing aspect to Estihdaaf - and the reason for his inclusion in this list - is his dirt-oriented pedigree. By a top dirt sire in Arch, out of a Ghostzapper mare, it’s entirely possible he may be switched to that surface for his next start given the stable’s primary UAE 2000 Guineas candidate Royal Marine disappointed in the trial for that race on his dirt debut last week. Estihdaaf is bred to be a dirt horse, and his action is very much one of a dirt horse, and for our money connections are missing a trick if they don’t switch him to the main track for the rest of the Carnival.
Mistress of Love – Karl Burke
Having cost $1m as a yearling, Mistress of Love made her eagerly-awaited debut in minor company at Ayr last August. Certainly the part on looks, she lacked a bit of knowhow on debut and could only finish fifth of eight. The run had clearly brought her on plenty, however, and she made no mistake switched to the all-weather at Newcastle next time. The final two starts of her two-year-old season both came at Newmarket, where she was fifth in Group 3 company before finishing a fair third in a listed contest in November.
By the late Scat Daddy (sire of last year’s US Triple Crown winner Justify) out of a Ghostzapper mare, Mistress of Love should relish racing on dirt, and her connections are aiming high with a possible tilt at the UAE Oaks reportedly on her agenda. She’s a well-made filly who is certainly built for the rigours of dirt racing, and provided inexperience doesn’t prove her undoing, she should put up a bold showing when taking to the Meydan main track.
Walk In The Sun – Sandeep Jadav
Ever since making a winning debut at Kempton for Jeremy Noseda just over a year ago, the suspicion has remained that the best of Walk In The Sun would not be seen until he got to tackle dirt, a surface he is very much bred to excel on. That narrow Kempton win was followed up by a routine seven-length success against just three rivals at Lingfield the following month. Subsequently transferred to Martyn Meade, Walk In The Sun was a creditable sixth in the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot on his next start.
There have been excuses for his two subsequent poor efforts in listed company (amiss at Newmarket and probably lacking peak fitness at Deauville), and he looks a fascinating recruit to the Dubai scene having now joined Sandeep Jadav. Likely to start out in handicaps (has a mark of 101), Walk In The Sun could well progress through the ranks and make his mark at a higher level later in the Carnival.