With Manchester City in Abu Dhabi, England and Brazil in Qatar and next week's big European golf tournament in Dubai it's not difficult to discern the powerful lure of the lucre of the Gulf States. City are there because their owner invited them, while England and Brazil will collect chunky appearance fees for their friendly today. The Dubai World Championship, the mega-rich season-ending tournament for the European tour, will be played at the grandly-named Earth course (two others are called Wind and Fire, bah-dee-ah!)
Apart from the tournament, what was once the Order of Merit, now the Race to Dubai, will also be settled. Lee Westwood leads this table, with Rory McIlroy breathing down his neck. McIlroy, who won in Dubai in the spring, could conceivably bag both prizes, an emphatic way to let the Yanks know he's playing on their tour next season. However, with Westwood and McIlroy watching one another, Ross Fisher could nip in – no tournament odds yet, but he's 20-1 on Betfair for the Race to Dubai.
Conditions will be far from Arabian at Cheltenham but thousands of jumps pilgrims will make the hajj. Today's Paddy Power Gold Cup can go to Tatenen (8-1, sportingbet) the winner of last year's Independent Newspaper Novices' Chase. Tomorrow's edition of 'our' race may see an Irish winner, in Fosters Cross.
*Small but welcome profits came from Chelsea and Wales, but England's rugby team couldn't even win on the handicap. Better news on the golf with Phil Mickelson winning in Shanghai at 12-1.