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Dubai World Cup Preview

It’s Dubai World Cup weekend and the surface has been receiving as much attention as the leading contenders in the big race build-up.

After five years racing on a Tapeta surface, the decision was taken to switch back to a dirt track to attract the top American horses to Meydan. There was not a single American-trained runner in last year’s renewal but the move appears to have paid off with California Chrome set to start favourite.

Sheikh Hamdan has questioned the logic behind making the horse favourite, as no American horse has raced on the new surface as yet. Even though California Chrome has won on a range of dirt surfaces, the Sheikh feels that the surface at Meydan will be a new experience for last year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner.

That has not deterred punters who see only one result on Saturday with Art Sherman’s four-year-old as short as 5-4 having been 4-1 just a couple of weeks ago. The chestnut ought to be in great shape for this after chasing home the smart Shared Belief in the San Antonio Invitational last month. Although his Triple Crown hopes ended in the Belmont, he did run a fine race when third to Bayern and Toast Of New York in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

It’s a shame that the runner-up could not be here to add to the quality of the race but Lea could make a race of it. William Mott trains the six-year-old son of First Samurai who was second in a Grade 1 at Gulfstream Park last month. He was attempting to win the race for a second consecutive year but could not get past Constitution.

Last year’s World Cup winner African Story bounced back to form when winning the Al Maktoum Challenge by a neck from Prince Bishop earlier this month. Last season he comfortably beat Mukhadram by two and three-quarter lengths and would have a chance if back in that kind of form. Prince Bishop renews rivalry but both Godolphin horses are now eight years of age.

There has been support for Japanese raider Epiphaneia, a close fifth to Gentildonna at Nakayama in December. He was going like a winner at the two furlong marker in that mile and a half contest so this drop in trip should improve his chances. He had previously won the Japan Cup impressively by four lengths from Just A Way.

Side Glance seems to have been around forever but Andrew Balding’s gelding is still only eight. He ran some fine races in Australia including finishing only half a length away in fourth in the Cox Plate. He has not got his head in front since winning the Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington in 2013.

With the value all taken about the favourite, it may be worth going each-way on Epiphaneia to land the prize for Japan and Christophe Soumillon.

Epiphaneia @8-1 BetVictor

Each-way 1/5 odds, 1,2,3

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