The horse racing awards season is in full swing with the great and the good voting for and celebrating the best Equine and Human performances in 2018.
One man who will probably not get much of a mention is the brilliant jockey Christophe Patrice Lemaire who this season in Japan has ridden 201 winners to become the first jockey to breach the 200 mark in that territory since Yutaka Take manages the same feat a few years ago.
Lemaire has been superb this season riding 8 winners on one card in the Summer and notching more Group 1’s in a season than any jockey has previously managed in Japan.
His association with the brilliant Rey De Oro and Almond Eye has been particular highlights. He deserves recognition way beyond this article for what he has achieved this season. A classy individual, a brilliant rider and, as of yet, an unsung hero.
Hopefully we will see him and Almond Eye in Dubai in March for the Dubai Turf or Sheema Classic and with Dubai in mind on an excellent domestic card I have four selections from there today.
The handicapper has been generous with this horses rating raising him just 3lb for his recent success here at Meydan and that win was obtained in smooth fashion.
He was always travelling well on a surface that suits him and he readily saw off Gundogdo who re-opposes here on better terms, but those revised terms should not be enough for the form to be reversed.
That win came over 10 furlongs and the step up to 11 should suit Quartier Francais who has won over 12 furlongs on turf in the past but is much more effective on this surface. He will be hard to beat.
Ahmed Bin Harmash has established himself as one of the best local operators in Dubai and now in his fifth year of training I think he has the ammunition to make an impact at the Carnival which starts in January.
In the meantime, he can have another winner her in the shape of impressive maiden winner Walking Thunder.
Stepping into a weak-looking conditions race this colt can prove that the time he ran in that race was no fluke and that he could be a Carnival horse moving forward.
This is a competitive handicap but Street of Dreams is pretty useful on this surface and should be a lot sharper for a recent spin here where he looked a bit rusty.
His Meydan dirt record reads 231162 and with a good draw here in stall 1, he can win again.
He takes on four last time out winners but two of those are drawn wide, one in Welford has gone up 9lb for his recent win, which looks harsh, and the other, Litigation, looks to be a prime bounce candidate.
I take Street of Dreams to dominate from his good draw.
I will not make a habit of tipping horses drawn wide here at Meydan for the rest of the Carnival but in a weak handicap off a mark of 80 I think Big Brown Bear can back up his recent easy maiden win here.
He has always been something of a talking horse and belatedly delivered last time out in stylish fashion.
He can continue his progression now providing he can overcome being drawn in stall 16.
Pat Dobbs will have to sit wide early on until they leave the one mile shoot and then angle inwards so he isn’t caught too wide in the final bend.
If the track was more rail favouring as it will be later in the season, he would have little chance but for now sitting two or three wide is ok. Over to you Pat Dobbs.
The best race of the day is the Listed Garhoud sprint which will be of interest going forward to the Carnival. I would have selected Ravens Corner but stall 9 over six furlongs is a big disadvantage so a watching brief is advised.