AUTHOR: William Kedjanyi

STAR RACING PREVIEW: Meydan, Haydock & Musselburgh Saturday

Racing fans are in for an Easter treat with top-class action on the flat and the jumps over the next three days, writes WILLIAM KEDJANYI

Many of the world’s top horses are in action on a star-studded Dubai World Cup card at Meydan, whilst there’s action on the flat at Musselburgh and Cork – and over the jumps with the first day of the Irish National Festival and also a competitive card of series finales at Haydock to boot. Without further ado, let’s get stuck in.

1.15 MeydanAl Quoz Sprint Sponsored By AZIZI Developments (Group 1) (Turf) (3yo+) 6f (Str)


The decision to run California Spangle here could be a masterstroke by Tony Cruz. He was an incredibly game winner of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup at Sha Tin last time out, having previously finished a very creditable fourth in the Stewards’ Cup over a mile, and his efforts at Sha Tin suggest that dropping back a furlong and making full use of his early pace could give him a tactical advantage.

Frankie Dettori is a fascinating booking on Star Of Mystery, who came through on the wrong side in the trial when today’s trip would have suited more, and along with Casa Creed and Frost At Dawn (trial winner, beat Star Of Mystery last time out), are amongst the leading contenders here.

Diligent Harry has been fast in two Listed wins on the AW for all that form has been let down and Danyah should enjoy the drop back in trip – and the booking of Ryan Moore for Sight Success is interesting, if he’s able to recover his best form from November.

3.15 HaydockUnibet Middle Distance Veterans’ Handicap Chase Finale (Class 2) (10yo+) 2m4f (2m3f203y)


There are plenty of angles into this Veterans’ Final, but the most interesting one might be with Champagne Mystery, a formerly useful inmate from the Nicky Henderson stable who became a useful chaser in France for the George’s and Amanda Zetterholm. Having been transferred to Tom George as trainer in January, he ran in a Premier Handicap Chase on New Year’s Day when he made a big move around the field to almost lead three out before fading on the run-in, an effort which read much better than the bare numbers showed.

Dropped 2lbs for that, he then went to another useful contest at Kempton, when probably unsuited by a muddling gallop as he snatched third on the line. Ahead of him was the dual next-time-out winner Heltenham, who was clearly well in that day, whilst previous winners Grandads Cottage and Pepe Le Moko were behind him at Kempton.

He’s been dropped a pound for that effort – generous considering the quality of the opposition – and with plenty of form on heavy ground, conditions hopefully won’t be a problem.

4.00 Meydan Longines Dubai Sheema Classic (Group 1) (Turf) (3yo+) 1m4f (Str)


A phenomenal running of the Sheema Classic with many of the world’s best turf horses in attendance. The selection is Japan’s Liberty Island, who took the Fillies’ Triple Crown before an excellent second in the Japan Cup behind the exceptional Equinox, with today’s reopposing contender Stars On Earth – also a high-class horse – behind.

A repeat of those efforts would give her every chance even in such a high quality contest, and one cannot imagine Meydan being a problem given her ability to travel and turn of foot either.

At the time of writing, she’s joint favourite with Auguste Rodin, who took glory in the Derby, Irish Derby, Irish Champion Stakes and Breeders’ Cup last year alongside blowouts in the 2,000 Guineas and King George. Much depends on if he puts his best foot forward – in addition to his Guineas and King George blowouts, he was laboured in the Irish Derby – but there’s no reason for Meydan not to suit and if fully tuned up ahead of a big season, he should be in the thick of things.

Emily Upjohn’s brief campaign as a four-year-old ended with a King George disappointment but on her other two starts, she outsped the high-class Westover in style and then just failed to give a huge amount of weight for age to Paddington over 10 furlongs in the Coral Eclipse. Currently 7/1, she has to be considered a major player.

Junko won the Grosser Allianz Preis von Bayern and the Hong Kong Vase last season, both times utilizing a strong turn of foot. He’s likely to improve further and also has a prep under his belt, so is another with an each/way chance in this.

Rebel’s Romance took the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Turf but then endured a miserable season, disappointing in this race and unseating at Saratoga in the Bowling Green before a laboured effort in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic. He’s bounced back to winning ways at Kempton and Doha (Simica Mille behind) but this will test if he’s truly back to his best. Spirit Dancer has improved hugely for the Fahey team over the winter but this is a much tougher challenge again.

The rest of the Japanese contenders are also incredibly strong. Stars On Earth won’t be far away, Shahryar won this in 2022 and was third to Auguste Rodin at the Breeders’ Cup, and Justin Palace won last year’s Tenno Sho before finishing runner-up to Equinox twice and then coming home like an express train in the Armina Kinen when only Do Deuce finished faster. A good trip for Haruki Sugiyama’s horse will see him very much on the scene and he’s worth considering for those wanting a value place or each/way angle.

4.35 MeydanDubai World Cup Sponsored By Emirates Airline (Group 1) (Dirt) (3yo+) 1m2f


The Saudi Cup may contain the answer here, with Senor Buscador and Ushba Tesoro separated by just a head at the line. Ushba Tesoro, last year’s winner, looks in peak form for a bold repeat bid whilst Senor Buscador’s consistent improvement over the past year suggests that he should run another big race here and if both get plenty of pace upfront – and there’s a reasonable amount on the cards – then nothing will finish faster and they can get right in the shakeup here.

Kabirkhan, who came in with an 8-9 record across Kazakhstan and Russia before landing with Doug Watson, has to be respected after his impressive win in the Al Maktoum Challenge last time out. It’s very hard to put a limit on his ability but this will be a great deal tougher.

Derma Sotogake looked like the winner for a couple of strides in the Saudi Cup before his challenge faded but he improved from his third in last year’s Saudi Derby before winning UAE Derby on this card, and he should be involved. Bob Baffert and Frankie Dettori have won this four times each and Newgate has to be respected although others have more substance to their form. Laurel River was super impressive in the Burj Nahaar but this trip might stretch him especially if he makes a big mid-race move once again.


BACK California Spangle to win the 1.15 at Meydan 1pt at 4/1 (⭐ ? CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Champagne Mystery to win the 3.15 at Haydock 1pt at 10/3 (⭐ ? CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Liberty Island to win the 4.00 at Meydan 2pts at 3/1 (⭐ ? CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Ushba Tesoro to win the 4.35 at Meydan 1 pt at 3/1 (⭐ ? CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Senor Buscador to win the 4.35 at Meydan 1 pt at 8/1 (⭐ ? CLICK TO BET NOW)

PROFIT/LOSS (MAR 2024): -12.73 points



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