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Alex tipping Monterosso to win the richest horse race on the planet

Alex Hammond Posted 29th March 2012 view comments

The British flat season gets underway at Doncaster on Saturday but it's not the only racing we have to look forward to this weekend.

Meydan also hosts the world's richest horse race, the Dubai World Cup but let's start at Doncaster, though, where the Lincoln Handicap is the feature.

The race is run over a straight mile and every year we have the same debate over where the best place to be drawn is. Last year high draws were advantageous, but Doncaster's Clerk of the Course doesn't think that side will be beneficial this year.

Monterosso: Alex's tip for the Dubai World Cup

Monterosso: Alex's tip for the Dubai World Cup

The middle could be the place to be, which is good news for supporters of Sky Bet's 11/2 favourite Eton Forever who will come out of stall seven of 22. Roger Varian's horse won the consolation race last year after missing the cut for this race and he has strong claims off an 11lb higher mark.

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Fury will come out of gate nine for William Haggas and is 15/2. Haggas has a good record in this race winning it with High Low (1992 - a horse that eventually ended up carting me round the amateur circuit!), Very Wise (2007) and Penitent (2010), so he knows what it takes to get one ready for this season opening handicap.

Cocozza is at 10s and will come out of stall 15 for Marco Botti, who has leading all-weather jockey Joe Fanning booked for the ride; he could be the proverbial group horse in a handicap.

His trainer is to be respected and this horse was bought out of John Oxx's yard last autumn after running in decent races in Ireland. He isn't exposed, having only had the five starts and he has had problems, but he was considered good enough to be running in Group Two company last year and this is his first run in a handicap off a mark of 99.

Edinburgh Knight is now top weight and is currently 11/1 with Sky Bet. His trainer has always held him in high regard and actually ran him in the Craven Stakes as a three-year-old. It's an important weekend for the Godolphin team with plenty of runners in Dubai and they have two in this race, Man of Action and Start Right who are both 12/1 shots.

David O'Meara has taken Penitent out of the race but is still represented by Smarty Socks who is 16/1 and is drawn highest of all in 22. Richard Fahey runs one of the most successful yards in the North and he runs Brae Hill who was runner-up last year; he is in stall 12 and is 16/1 to go one better this time round off the same handicap mark.

Mull of Killough can't be discounted as this has been his aim for a while and he comes here at 14/1 for Jane Chapple-Hyam (drawn 21). Obviously you need a load of luck to win a race like this and there are three horses I like: Brae Hill, Mull of Killough and Cocozza. The latter could be well handicapped and can run a big race from a middle to high draw and he just edges it for me.

Popular selection

In Dubai, the World Cup is the highlight and I think it will be a great night for Aidan O'Brien. His runner, So You Think, has been handed stall four and the favourable draw has made him a popular selection; he is 9/4 favourite to get his season off to a flyer.

The only doubt is his ability to handle the Tapeta surface but hopefully, having trained on it for a few days, he should be okay. Joseph O'Brien really proved himself as a man for the big occasion last year and he is riding full of confidence.

Game On Dude was two places in front of So You Think when runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs in November. He will break from the widest stall of all in 14 and has eased in the market to 9/1.

Japanese challenger Smart Falcon is second-favourite; he is drawn next to So You Think in stall five. There are concerns the horse had not travelled over from Japan particularly well, though. Of Godolphin's four challengers, Monterosso fared best in stall eight with Capponi, Prince Bishop and Mendip in 11, 12 and 13 respectively. You can't rule out last year's Monterosso; third in last year's race, he is 20/1 and represents good each-way value.

Marco Botti's Planteur will break from stall six and the 14/1 shot has the assistance of Ryan Moore. Last year's runner-up Transcend will have to overcome stall 10 and is also 14/1 to repeat that win. It's a tough race to call but I hope So You Think goes well. However, the bet could be Monterosso each way for Mahmood Al Zarooni and Mickael Barzalona.

Fitting

The Sheema Classic is a 12 furlong, Group One and Champion Stakes winner Cirrus Des Aigles is the 11/4 joint favourite with Aidan O'Brien's St Nicholas Abbey. St Nicholas Abbey won the Breeders' Cup Turf in great style and was impressive there. It would be fitting for the Coolmore Stud if he were to win this as a son of the late Montjeu, who has made such an impression at stud and sadly died before his time this week.

The Duty Free is a nine furlong Group One on the turf track and it looks quite open with Ambitious Dragon 4/1 favourite for Hong Kong. There is plenty of British and Irish interest in this contest with the likes of Await the Dawn, Cityscape, Presvis, Wigmore Hall and Dubawi Gold in the field, but it's dangerous to write off Mike De Kock-trained runners and Mutahadee caught the eye in the Jebel Hatta last time out and at 6/1 is the one for me.

The Golden Shaheen is a Group One over six furlongs on the Tapeta track. Rocket Man (2/1) and Sepoy (7/2) are the market leaders and without Black Caviar in the race I think the favourite can prevail. He is a world-class sprinter who dominates in Singapore and he won this race last year. I think he can do it again.

The Goldolphin Mile is the opening race on the card. African Story is the clear 2/1 favourite for Saeed bin Suroor and Frankie Dettori and it's not hard to see why. He has impressed since joining bin Surror from France and given a bit more luck would be 3-3 here at Meydan on the Tapeta surface. He could still be progressing.

Grown up

The UAE Derby is a Group Two and I think this one has a great chance of heading back to Ballydoyle. Aidan O'Brien trains both the 7/2 favourite Wrote (Ryan Moore) and 6/1 thrid favourite Daddy Long Legs (Colm O'Donoghue). They both carry 8stone 9lbs which is why Joseph O'Brien can't ride as he doesn't do less than nine stone.

Wrote has his first try on an artificial surface but I've always been a fan of Royal Lodge winner Daddy Long Legs, although he let me down when well beaten in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in November. He was still very inexperienced there though and with another winter on his back may have grown up a little. The Tapeta surface shouldn't inconvenience this America-bred colt and I'm going to give him another chance.

The Dubai Gold Cup is run over the longest trip in Dubai, two miles, and the Mahmood Al Zarooni pair of Opinion Poll (7/2) and Fox Hunt (11/4 fav) dominate the market with Frankie Dettori on Opinion Poll and Silvestre de Sousa on Fox Hunt, a horse he knows well from his days with Mark Johnston. I think he can cement his new partnership with Godolphin by riding them a winner on World Cup night and Fox Hunt is the one for me.

The Al Quoz Sprint also has Group One status and it looks like a race the Europeans can excel in. Joy and Fun is the 13/2 fav for Hong Kong trainer Derek Cruz but Sole Power is 7/1 next best for Ireland and the 2010 Nunthorpe winner is joined by last year's Nunthorpe winner Margot Did (10/1).

Sprint king Dandy Nicholls runs Addictive Dream, 8/1, and another Irish raider Nocturnal Affair is also 10s. Hayley Turner is reunited with Margot Did who provided her with one of her two Group One wins last season and she has said the filly is in great form in Dubai. Although Sole Power was well beaten in this race last year, he has had a prep run this time around and should improve for that.

SELECTIONS:

Cocozza in the Lincoln @ 10/1 with Sky Bet

Monterosso in the Dubai World Cup @ 20/1 with Sky Bet (each way)

St Nicholas Abbey in the Sheema Classic @ 11/4 with Sky Bet

Mutahadee in the Duty Free @ 6/1 with Sky Bet

Rocket Man in the Golden Shaheen @ 2/1 with Sky Bet

African Storyin the Godolphin Mile @ 2/1 with Sky Bet

Daddy Long Legs in the UAE Derby @ 6/1 with Sky Bet

Fox Hunt in the Dubai Gold Cup @ 11/4 with Sky Bet

Sole Power in the Al Quoz Sprint @ 7/1 with Sky Bet

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