THE valuable Lincoln Handicap takes place tomorrow afternoon and though it retains its traditional place as the centrepiece event on the opening day of the new UK turf flat season, it is in modern times fiercely rivalled by the magnificent Dubai World Cup.
The Dubai World Cup also takes place tomorrow and it is in the desert where all the true quality from around the flat racing world will be seen, including the Brighton-born riding star Ryan Moore.
The opportunity to ride the very best equine talent around is what drives Moore on and he has a full book of rides in Dubai for a card that offers enormous financial incentives. But they are only a secondary consideration to the prestige of winning at a meeting which attracts some of the very best horses, trainers and riders from every continent of the racing world.
Moore has ridden the favourite for the big race tomorrow, So You Think, on every occasion he has been available since the horse moved to the powerful Ballydoyle yard of Aidan O’Brien.
So it is a little surprising that he will not be on board tomorrow, although that may be more of an indicator that his replacement – the trainer’s son Joseph – will be playing a progressively larger role in the campaign ahead.
As a result, Moore has found his way onto the back of Planteur, who has moved across the English Channel to the Newmarket yard of the rising training star Marco Botti. The high class French Group One winner represents a great opportunity for Botti to move his burgeoning career another step forward this season, and his booking of Moore is an interesting one as the two do not have an established relationship and this may be an indicator of things to come as the summer develops.
Moore and Planteur are not without a feasible chance here but the artificial surface is something he has not raced on before and there is a doubt that he will be able to reproduce his very best on it.
The American horse Game On Dude has an admirable attitude and might be the answer to the big race.
His trainer Bob Baffert suffered a heart attack and had surgery earlier this week but hopes to be there tomorrow and his charge certainly has the talent for a race of such quality (he was narrowly beaten in last year’s Breeder’s Cup Classic) and the son of Awesome Again should go close in his first time tongue tie.
The trainer also decided against Game On Dude attempting to follow up his win last year in one of the hottest American handicaps of the season, the Big Cap, such was his enthusiasm for the horse’s chance here in the Dubai World Cup.
Ryan still has a number of other good opportunities on the card, the best of which is probably aboard Wrote in the UAE Derby, and hopefully he will fly home with a winner in the bank and confidence high as he begins his efforts to regain his UK jockeys’ championship in the days ahead.
He had a lot of injury problems last season which prejudiced his bid to win the jockeys’ title. It should be fairly clear after a couple of months of the new season if Moore is intent on winning back his crown and you can judge this from afar based on the volume of rides he is having.
Statistics strongly support the view that a jockey who is seriously challenging for the championship needs to be have taken something in excess of 350 rides before the end of June if he is to have put himself in the mix (assuming a reasonable strike rate).