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Ben Pauling is firing in winners left, right and centre at the minute and Handstands showed what a nice progressive horse he is with a fairly convincing win at Huntingdon by beating the Grade 1 Nicky Henderson horse.
The other selection at Doncaster was a NR due to the meeting being abandoned just before the first race as they got torrential snow which was sticking and they were never going to be able to race on that surface.
Meydan 2:40 – Auto Bahn 11/4 (1pt, PaddyPower)
I'm opting for the flat racing on Friday as Kempton is expecting a shed load of rain and I think there is a high chance it will get called off, so I'd rather not chance it and waste my time on that track, as if it is on then the ground will be very testing and chances are that you'll see some whacky results.
My first selection of the day comes at Meydan and it's a bit of a bizarre selection as I do like Auto Bahn in the 2:40 who is making his first start for new trainer J Olascoaga who is based in the UAE.
This does seem like a tough assignment in this conditions race as my fancy has to carry 9st 10lbs against horses who are carrying much less weight of 9st 1lbs and 8st 9lbs, but this horse is proven on the dirt as he won on his sole start in his native Argentina. Obviously, we don't know what the level of Argentina horses are like, but given that he beat a subsequent Group 1 horse on debut gives me the vibe that this horse could be decent and better than this field, even with the big weight he has to carry. The horse he beat into second place won the Group 1 by 7L, so clearly isn't a mug. I also thought that the jockey booking of Mickael Barzalona was eyecatching as Mickael is one of the top jockeys in the world, but rides the Meydan dirt track better than most, and this is his first call-up for the stable having never ridden for J Olascoaga before, but he has his usual jockeys on his two rides later on the card, so I think they are expecting a big performance from this horse and they rate him much higher than today's conditions race so they've opted for one of the best jockeys in the world to do the steering.
Meydan 5:00 – Ruling Dynasty 5/2 (1pt, Bet365)
It will take a leap of faith to back Ruling Dynasty after two lacklustre performances in a row, but he has shown ability in his lightly raced career to date and it gives me confidence that connections have him spot on as Buick as opted to ride him over the stablemate.
I'm not sure what went wrong at Royal Ascot last year when he finished well down the field in the race that Vauban won, but he has excuses for his race at Meydan 49 days ago. He reportedly finished mildly lame and an endoscopic exam revealed a degree of mucus, so he did have problems, so he can be excused. Given that they've rested him for 49 days and haven't rushed him back for any of the Meydan meetings this year would suggest that they have him spot-on for today's race as I cannot imagine they'd be racing him if he wasn't 100%.
He is clearly a very capable horse on his day as he carried 10st 8lbs to victory, giving away 21lbs to the runner-up in his 6.5L win in a Class 3 on good to firm ground at Haydock last June, recording an RPR of 102. Buick is always deadly at Meydan, which isn't a surprise given Godolphin does very well, but with him generally picking the right horses (8 wins from last 12 rides) would suggest this is the horse to be on. They've applied the blinkers which should liven him up for this. And considering he went off 13/8F for his last race on seasonal reappearance, they must feel he is on a good handicap mark, so the odds of 5/2 make him a decent bet for today.
- 2:40 pm
11/4 @ PaddyPower
- 5:00 pm