IT’S the start of the turf Flat season at Doncaster today, but arguably the best horse on the planet will be in action 4500 miles away in Dubai.
For those crazy people who dislike jumps racing, the Lincoln meeting sets the path to happiness and Classics.
One could say, it gives them hope of ‘the good life’, to bring back memories of the 1975 TV sitcom.
But it’s Life Is Good who has the chance to show us once again what a monster he is on the global racing scene in the £9 million Dubai World Cup at Meydan, live on Sky Sports Racing.
It’s early in the year for Flat racing, but Life Is Good currently holds the top spot as world number one equine beast and he might still be in that position at the end of 2022.
The Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile hero – who blitzed them at Del Mar – went on to destroy the Breeders’ Cup Classic hero Knicks Go in the Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream. That was after only six starts. This is a lightly raced son of Into Mischief who has proved a bad boy talent very quickly.
Cigar, Silver Charm, Curlin, California Chrome, and Arrogate stand out among the star American runners who have travelled to the Middle East and triumphantly displayed all of the talent that made them so famous at home. Life Is Good can easily join the list.
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Owned by China Horse Club and WinStar Farm, Life Is Good started off with Bob Baffert but goes here for Todd Pletcher as he extends over 1m2f for the first time.
"It's a great race, with great tradition and a great history and hopefully Life Is Good can add his name to it," said Elliott Walden, CEO, president, and racing manager of WinStar Farm.
"He's such a special horse. He has shown it every time he's gone on the racetrack and we hope he'll do it again."
Life is Good should be plotted up for his front running style, but Hot Rod Charlie – the Classic fourth – and Midnight Bourbon, who was third in the Saudi Cup, are no mugs.
Neither is Baffert’s Country Grammar, while Real World is fascinating for Saeed bin Suroor on the dirt. The Royal Hunt Cup hero remains exciting, for all he might want turf.
Godolphin have many huge chances at Meydan, headed by unbeaten Manobo in the Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup.
Matt Chapman Saturday Tips
1.15 Doncaster – Persian Force
1.35 Kelso – Son Of The Somme
1.50 Doncaster – Bielsa
2.05 Kempton – FELIX NAP
2.25 Doncaster -Mostawaa each-way
2.40 Kempton – Bandinelli
3.00 Doncaster – Chindit
3.15 Kelso – Theatre Glory
3.35 Doncaster – Modern News
Then there is Man Of Promise and the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes hero Creative Force in the Al Quoz Sprint, plus the Breeders’ Cup Turf victor Yibir in the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic.
They are all handled by Charlie Appleby, who also has every chance of taking centre stage at Doncaster.
The world’s top ranked Flat trainer relies on Modern News in the Lincoln Heritage Handicap.
Modern News is a very lightly raced four-year-old with just seven starts to his name, but he won all three of his outings last season.
Appleby recently gave him a spin at Meydan and he ran an eye-catching third, having been slowly into stride and running on well at the finish. The effort suggested his first attempt at a mile could be successful.
With both William Buick and James Doyle in action in Dubai, Appleby has turned to young apprentice Harry Davies for the big race mount. He just might take off a valuable 7lb.
Appleby suggested to me that Modern News could be a Group performer masquerading as a handicapper and if that is the case he’s chucked in.
The Lincoln shows once again the importance of Middle East interest in the Sport of Kings.
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Ante-post, the first three in the betting – unbeaten Mujtaba, Modern News and Saleymm – are all Maktoum-owned.
Some might not be happy with that situation, but it’s worth remembering the number of people kept in work due to their influence.
One other decent horse at Doncaster is Chindit, back at the scene of his Champagne success in the SBK Doncaster Mile.
He was a frustration last season, with many of us confused over his optimum trip after fifth-placings in both the 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes.
He ran on well on both suggesting he wants further, but Richard Hannon starts him off once again over eight furlongs. In Listed company he should be hard to stop.
The Flat is back people! Mind you, only for a moment as Aintree’s Grand National feast is just around the corner.
Today, at least, from Doncaster to Meydan there is much to enjoy.
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