Adam Houghton highlights the major changes in the Timeform ratings following Dubai World Cup night at Meydan, and a week of fairly low-key National Hunt racing.
While the Aintree and Punchestown Festivals look set to provide a thrilling climax to the jumps season, Dubai World Cup night at Meydan very much signifies a changing of the seasons, with five Group 1 contests whetting the appetite for the Flat campaign ahead.
Arrogate (up 2 lb to 141) took top billing in the build-up and lived up to his reputation with a performance that had to be seen to be believed. Few will disagree that Arrogate was value for winning the Dubai World Cup with more in hand than the bare form suggests, but to what degree?
Arrogate found himself in a very poor early position when squeezed out badly at the start, losing something like five lengths on the eventual runner-up Gun Runner (up 3 lb to 130) in the first 100m or so. Gun Runner’s performance suggests he was ridden in a broadly efficient manner – the four-year-old certainly wasn’t stopping at the finish and confirmed himself a top-class performer in the process – and Arrogate was value for more than the bare margin for running him down.
In detailing cases like this, Timeform will also take into account the horse’s overall profile as a factor too. As well as this top-class display, Arrogate has other past performances to call on, notably the Travers Stakes, and to a lesser extent the Breeders’ Cup Classic, that when viewed together, point to him being recognised as of outstanding merit, the best that Timeform has seen in the last 25 years or so since it began comprehensively rating horses in North America.
The second-best performance on the evening came from Jack Hobbs (up 1 lb to 130), who ran out a dominant winner of the Dubai Sheema Classic (in blinkers for the first time), and belatedly built on the promise of his three-year-old campaign in doing so. He was always travelling well in the slipstream of the pace-setting Highland Reel and quickly put the race to bed once asked for his effort in the straight.
Jack Hobbs will be a leading contender for all the season’s biggest middle-distance races on this evidence, but the future prospects of the third, Postponed (now Timeform-rated 124+ from 130), are less clear at this stage. He was below his very best form for the third start in succession and will have something to prove next time.
Earlier on the card, Japanese raider Vivlos (up 5 lb to 120) received a brilliant ride from Joao Moreira to win the Dubai Turf. She finished well from the rear to get the better of Heshem (up 2 lb to 123) and Ribchester (remains on 129) close home. The latter shaped with promise on his first start since October – over a trip possibly further than his best – and looks set enjoy another profitable campaign, with the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury reportedly next on his agenda.
Vazirabad (remains on 124) and Thunder Snow (remains on 119) gave jockey Christophe Soumillon a double on the card in the Dubai Gold Cup and UAE Derby, respectively. Both are likely to have Group 1 targets back in Europe this summer, although Thunder Snow could also make his next start in the Kentucky Derby.
Al Quoz Sprint winner The Right Man (up 3 lb to 119) and Mind Your Biscuits (up 1 lb to 124) in the Dubai Golden Shaheen were the other big winners on the evening. Ertijaal (down 2 lb to 128) and Limato (remains on 129) failed to meet market expectations in the first-named contest, but both may have been unsuited by the rain-softened ground and deserve another chance.