Jim Crowley: “Muntazah has been fantastic for the last 12 months.”
Exclusive Meydan insight from our racing ambassador
I have really enjoyed the last few months in Dubai, it’s been great. We’ve had some good winners, with horses from all over the world, and Muntazah in particular has been a real star for us.
I’m looking forward to getting back to England and I absolutely love the start of the season. It’s probably the busiest time of the year for me, trying to get around and sit on as many horses as I can before the action really gets going.
The trials come around thick and fast and we’ve got some lovely horses which I’m very excited about riding. We have three of four entered in a lot of races so I’ll be spending a lot of time with all of them and working out which ones to ride. It looks a very hot year for the three year olds and we should have some quality racing.
Saturday – Meydan
11.45 – Al Zahir
It was a difficult choice for me in this race between Al Zahir and Barnamaj but I went for the former.
Al Zahir has a huge amount of ability and has been working brilliantly in the run up to this race and my only concern would be that he isn’t at his best on dirt. If I can get him to convert his form to Meydan here he will have a good chance.
12.15 – Muntazah
The Godolphin Mile brings my best ride of the day and I am really looking forward to it. Muntazah came second in this race last year and has been fantastic for the last twelve months, improving with every run and even breaking a track record on the way last time out.
Last year I thought we should have won the race. I just got hemmed in at the two furlong pole when I wanted to get going and we finished really well. I respect the other horses in this race, especially Coal Front, but I’m hopeful that we will prove very hard to beat. I can’t wait for it.
I don’t have a ride in the Gold Cup but I think that the Melbourne Cup winner Cross Counter will be very hard to beat in this one.
He won the Melbourne Cup very well and this will have been the plan for a long time now. It’s his first run of the season and some of the others do have good form but I do think he should win this race.
1.30 – Ekhtiyaar
Ekhtiyaar is a horse that I know very well and he has been a revelation since being gelded. He won on his second start over six furlongs by five and a half lengths which is the furthest that any horse has won at Meydan in a sprint.
On his run next time out he was second to Blue Point despite having a very tough draw.
I remember coming in after that race thinking that if I could have got closer to Blue Point earlier on in the race that we would have given them something to think about.
I think he has a great chance and whilst I can’t say he’ll beat Blue Point, who is one of the best sprinters in the world, my horse is improving all the time and I am sure he can run a big race.
2.05 – Jahbath
Jahbath has never ran on the dirt in Dubai before but he has run at Southwell which is probably as near as you can get.
All his starts have been on synthetic and he has run very well which gives us hope here. His preparation has been perfect and the horse comes here in great form and well-drawn, so if handling the dirt he will go close.
2.40 & 3.20
I don’t ride in the Golden Shaheen but I really like Drafted in the race. I think they will go very hard out the gates and I can see him picking up the pieces late on. I think he’s got a great chance.
In the Dubai Turf everybody is absolutely raving about Almond Eye. She looks a superstar, winning the Japan Cup, and the noises coming out of the camp are that they are very confident.
She’ll be very hard to beat and I think Dream Castle is one of the few other horses that could maybe stop her. Vivlos was unlucky in the race last year and could be the one to take at a bigger price.
4.00 – Desert Encounter
He was third on his last start and he’s a very good horse, winning the Canadian International before and running well last time out here. I’ll be looking to hold him up here and hope for a fast speed early on to give us a chance towards the end.
4.40 (Dubai World Cup)
I think the Dubai World Cup is anybody’s race this year. Personally I would be against North America.
He likes to go forward and make the running, alongside Capezzano the second favourite, and I’ve a feeling that they will cut each other’s throats and set it up for somebody else.
A lot of people think that Thunder Snow’s draw is a negative but I am on the other side. I think it will play into his hands.
He has good gate speed and with the two favourites likely to not have it all its own way and I think he can pick it up late on. If I could ride any horse in the race I would definitely be on Thunder Snow.