International Racing: Expert Tips and Previews

Rory Flanagan, an international racing expert, delivers his international racing tips for all of the world’s biggest thoroughbred meetings.

Rory’s expertise lies in European and UAE racing, with proven results in tipping some of the most popular carnivals on the global racing calendar.

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Dubai World Cup Night | 26 March

After the disappointing cancellation of last year’s Dubai World Cup carnival, the second-wealthiest raceday on the planet returns in 2021.

Five Group 1 races – the Sheema, the Shaheen, the Dubai Turf, the Al Quoz, and the World Cup itself – are complemented by the UAE Derby, the Dubai Gold Cup and the Godolphin Mile in what shapes as a stupendous raceday off the back of Golden Slipper Day at Rosehill.


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You’ll struggle to find a horse who loves Meydan more than MIDNIGHT SANDS. His form away from Dubai reads: 704378, but an incredible 2111111 here. He’s drawn in gate 8 and that should pose no issue as he’s won from stall 7 on three occasions. I expect he’ll be a warm order as punters look to get off to a good start with one of the more obvious favourites on the night.

TUZ keeps breaking from the gates in a sluggish manner and it’s costing him a few lengths which would otherwise allow him to lead and control the race at his own pace. It’s tough to see him getting a soft lead and after backing him all this prep, I’m finally jumping off. Midnight Sands had him well covered last time out.

AVANTE GARDE brings a level of form which is hard to line up, though on replays does appear something of a pack chaser.

GOLDEN GOAL next best after seemingly struggling over a mile this prep compared to blistering 1400m form.

Betting Strategy

BACK (WIN) — Midnight Sands for 4 units

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I’ve been a fan of SECRET ADVISOR since he debuted at Thirsk in 2017. He’s still only lightly raced for a 7yo after his fair share of setbacks and long spells and goes into this as a worthy favourite after two slashing wins at last year’s carnival and a game 3rd on Saudi Cup night last month.

He comfortably accounted for Spanish Mission last year in handicap conditions, and there was only a neck between them in Riyadh. They reoppose here at level weights which is sure to be in the favour of the Godolphin charge who was conceding 4lbs last time.

The case I can make for SPANISH MISSION is that he is much better 2nd-up and proven at 3200m.

Outside of these two I don’t have much time for the rest of the field and I am flummoxed by the price of SUBJECTIVIST who should be a lot longer in my opinion and is in no way suited to rattling fast ground here.

Betting Strategy

BACK (WIN) — Secret Advisor for 4 units

BACK (WIN) — Spanish Mission for 1.5 units

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This is the race won by Buffering a few years back, and it’s a shame to see no Aussie interests this year as the field is far from stellar. SPACE BLUES is the best 1400m type on the planet, and that’s a fact. The issue here is that he steps down to 1200m on ground that isn’t ideal for him. His previous run in the Meydan straight saw him beaten out of sight, but he is unbeaten since that run.

He only got going late over the 1350m to win in Riyadh & I feel he’s a chance to be run off his feet early here. In saying all that, the rest of the field really aren’t any more than G3 types at best.

I’m happy to play ROYAL CRUSADE at odds as I feel he was a bit piggy in the yard and needed the run last time. He’s also drawn a bit better than his stablemate.

I’m also going to lay EQUILATERAL the place, as he is a 1000m horse tackling a 1200m G1. The last time that happened he finished in a different postcode.

Betting Strategy

BACK (WIN) — Royal Crusade for 1 unit

LAY (PLACE) — Equilateral for 5 units liability

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Don’t understand the discrepancies between MNASEK/SOFT WHISPER and MOUHEEB/REBEL’S ROMANCE here.

Soft Whisper wiped the floor with Mnasek before heading to Saudi Arabia and is double the price.

Rebel’s Romance wiped the floor with Mouheeb before heading to Saudi Arabia and is double the price.

Mike Smith gave Soft Whisper a very poor ride and failed to understand the horse’s strengths, and she faded quickly in the long straight at Riyadh. Rebel’s Romance was in a similar boat and couldn’t quicken, catching Soft Whisper late on.

Stepping up to 1900m with a far less frantic tempo should work in favour of the Godolphin duo, though they will have to be at their best to run down PANADOL who was much too strong in the Al Bastakiya.

He’ll be fired out of the gates and attempt to lead all of the way as he has done at his previous two starts but this is much, much harder. He was a big collect last start but I was less than impressed to see Speight’spercomte taking huge ground off him late on.

The big unknown here is the Japanese horse FRANCE GO DE INA. He could not have been more impressive when bolting away to win start number two back home, but I’m just wondering why they skipped Saudi for this race. If the money comes for him, it has to be respected.

Betting Strategy

BACK (WIN) — Soft Whisper for 1 unit

BACK (WIN) — Rebel’s Romance for 1 unit

BACK (WIN) — France Go De Ina for 2 units

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What to do with MATERA SKY? This poor horse’s connections have gone viral two years in a row now after he was collared in the final 20m after having a 5L lead in the final furlong!

He has immense speed and will be duking it out with YAUPON for the rail. Yaupon has been rapid in his first three successes before getting squeezed for room and dropping out of contention in the only start he hasn’t led. He is drawn gate 2 however, and that makes him a bet as I expected him to hold the rail. Leaders have a great record over the 1200m here.

This rapid pace surely sets things up for CANVASSED though, who has a new lease on life as a sprinter. He came from the clouds to win last time out and looks generous overs for the type of race we’ll get here. He handles the track superbly, and drawn wide should mean there are no traffic issues and leaders folding up in front of him. I think he’s a great bet at double figures.

Betting Strategy

BACK (WIN) — Canvassed for 2 units

BACK (WIN) — Yaupon for 2 units

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Tough to see where the pace needed for LORD GLITTERS to win this will come from and he might just get a little tight for room from gate 4. I’m happy to trust the credentials of the other lord in the race, LORD NORTH who was very good in the Breeders’ Cup. That was his first go at 2400m, and returning to 1800m is right in the wheelhouse for him.

Gate 10 makes things tricky, but it’s worth remembering this horse battered Addeybb at Ascot last year and thrives on firm footing. He travels sweetly in his races which is ideal for a turning track like this. Frankie just needs to find him a good spot and he can account for the rest of the field.

Betting Strategy

BACK (WIN) — Lord North for 3.5 units

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Race of the day for mine. All sorts of Group 1 formlines coming together on a perfect surface at the classic test of class and stamina 2400m.

MOGUL stormed home in the GP de Paris to claim his first G1, before progressing on to Hong Kong where he made a mess of Exultant & co. If the $7 was still available I’d be getting excited as Aidan O’Brien’s record in G1’s is absurd, he’s just getting a touch short for my liking in a race where he doesn’t have a pacemaker to help him. He’s also probably better right-handed than he is left-handed.

MISHRIFF danced away with the Saudi Cup and returns to turf now upped 600m in trip. He is versatile and immensely talented, I just wonder if he can match motors at this new trip with the relentless CHRONO GENESIS who gets the mares allowance against two newly turned 4yos.

She sat wide and claimed the Arima Kinen in a win that was much better than it looked. She’s been working the house down and is the most polished, bombproof horse in the field. She held her own against Almond Eye and we all know how good she was.

Best of the home team is WALTON STREET who managed a course and distance record this prep. Charlie Appleby is very bullish.

Betting Strategy

BACK (WIN) — Chrono Genesis for 4 units

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I’m adamant that Godolphin have hit the panic button here and sent out a distress call to find any horses in the royal blue who can compete in the DWC. Saeed Bin Suroor’s planned horses turned into milk drinkers, and his 3yos aren’t close to being ready for this. Appleby doesn’t have a contender that handles dirt either, so they end up with ring-ins MYSTIC GUIDE and MAGNY COURS from the US and France respectively.

Mystic Guide beat a bunch of horses who didn’t go a yard in the wet last time & was made favourite for this, and whilst Magny Cours is a weapon on turf and synth, I’m not sure a twice-turning, rattling fast dirt track is in his favour either.

This leads me to the home team.

SALUTE THE SOLDIER was much too good last time out, controlling the race from pillar to post. He won’t get that here but is capable of a huge finish if settling in the first four. MILITARY LAW was disappointing in Saudi Arabia but corners almost better than anything in Dubai, and with two bends to take here this brings him into contention with the perfect gate (5)

HYPOTHETICAL is drawn sweetly for an economical run in gate 2, and was very good chasing home Salute The Soldier last time out. The stable have him as a massive winning chance.

Betting Strategy

BACK (WIN) — Salute The Soldier for 2 units

BACK (WIN) — Military Law for 2 units

BACK (WIN) — Hypothetical for 2 units


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