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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Dubai World Cup race preview and predictions: West Coast the one to beat as Godolphin rely on Talismanic and Thunder Snow 

Bob Baffert's horse the pre-race favourite and will be looking to emulate the success of 2017 winner Arrogate.

North America enters the Dubai World Cup in good form having won the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge in his last outing. Cedric Lane / Shutterstock
North America enters the Dubai World Cup in good form having won the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge in his last outing. Cedric Lane / Shutterstock

Ahead of the Dubai World Cup, the $10 million (Dh36.73m) flagship race on Dubai World Cup night, Amith Passela profiles the 10 horses competing and provides his race predictions.

8.50pm: Dubai World Cup Group I (D) 2,000m $10,000,000

1. Awardee

Brings in plenty of experience but has not won at this level. His best was a six-race winning streak from September 2015 to November 2016. Has not had any success since then in eight starts while his best efforts in those starts was two runner up finishes in two Grade 1 races.

2. North America

Comes into the spotlight after a winning the Dubai World Cup prep race, the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge, in a track record time. In his past three outings, has improved his position with every outing, from third in his reappearance, and then runner up to Godolphin’s Thunder Snow before avenging that neck defeat to win over the same horse by more than seven-lengths.

Gunnevera has placed behind race favourite West Coast in his past three starts. Tom Dulat / Getty Images
Gunnevera has placed behind race favourite West Coast in his past three starts. Tom Dulat / Getty Images

3. Gunnevera

The Dialed In colt has finished behind West Coast in the past three starts and will be hoping to turn that form around in another rematch away from American soil. Will have to come out with a career best effort to prevail on Saturday but he has definitely not made the long journey to make up the numbers.

4. Furia Cruzada

Finished second-last in the race won by Arrogate just under 12 months ago but her connections are hoping for a better finishing position. She has run three times this season and was third behind North America and Thunder Snow in her most recent start, but at best, she may look for a place effort in the final standings.

Furia Cruzada finished 13th at the Dubai World Cup last year and will be looking to build on that performance. Andrew Watkins / Dubai Racing Club
Furia Cruzada finished 13th at the Dubai World Cup last year and will be looking to build on that performance. Andrew Watkins / Dubai Racing Club

5. Mubtaahij

Won the UAE Derby in 2015 and appearing in his third Dubai World Cup. He was runner-up behind California Chrome in 2016 and fourth to Arrogate last year. His connections will be hoping he will be third time lucky under trainer Bob Baffert who also has West Coast in the line-up.

6. Forever Unbridled

Arrives with a tall reputation as she bids to become the first filly or mare to win this prize. The six-year-old mare’s chances must be respected on the evidence of her record, which includes four Grade 1 prizes, even though three firsts await her on Saturday; running with the ‘boys’, the 2,000m trip, and competing outside the United States.

7. Talismanic

Andre Fabre’s six-year-old Grade 1 Breeder’s Cup Turf winner is Godolphin’s hope of a ninth Dubai World Cup. He runs on the dirt for the first time but the connections are confident. He also comes after a prep race on polytrack where he beat the Dubai Sheema Classic hopeful and stable companion Cloth Of Stars.

Talismanic is one of two Godolphin horses entered in the Dubai World Cup. Tom Dulat / Getty Images
Talismanic is one of two Godolphin horses entered in the Dubai World Cup. Tom Dulat / Getty Images

8. Pavel

Has shown ability at the beginning of his career when winning on his racecourse debut and picking up a Grade 3 prize in his third start. It remains the high-point of his seven career starts, but to make the long journey the connections must be looking at least to finish in the money.

9. West Coast

Has never been out of the first three in 10 career starts with six wins of which two are Grade 1 prizes. The Flatter colt had both Arrogate and stable companion Mubtaahij behind him when finishing third to Gun Runner in the Breeder’s Cup Classic on dirt. He did even better to finish runner up behind the same horse in the Pegasus World Cup in his most recent start.

Thunder Snow enters the Dubai World Cup having won the UAE Derby last year. Pawan Singh / The National
Thunder Snow enters the Dubai World Cup having won the UAE Derby last year. Pawan Singh / The National

10. Thunder Snow

Having won both the UAE 2000 Guineas and the UAE Derby last year, the second Godolphin runner in the field deserves to take his chance in the race. He was runner-up twice and won the middle leg of the Al Maktoum Challenge in his three starts at Meydan. Has to deal with a wide draw, though.

Final prediction

West Coast's class to win out, even from a wide starting position, to give trainer Bob Baffert his second successive World Cup win. Gunnevera can be best of the rest in a plucky second place, with Mubtaahij well placed to give Baffert a great night with two horses in the top three.

Predictions: 1. West Coast 2. Gunnevera 3. Mubtaahij

West Coast is the pre-race favourite to win the Dubai World Cup. Tom Dulat / Getty Images
West Coast is the pre-race favourite to win the Dubai World Cup. Tom Dulat / Getty Images