Chris McGrath: Gio Ponti has designs on untold riches

Inside Track

The ruler of Dubai was familiar to the British racing fraternity long before the world's economists decided that his dynamism and charisma were a pretty fragile guarantee against the huge debts accumulating in his homeland.

As such, it was no surprise to hear Sheikh Mohammed respond to sudden panic in the stock markets last year with one of those rather portentous aphorisms to which he is so delightfully prone. "It is the fruit-bearing tree," he said, "that becomes the target of stone-throwers."

Certainly, it would be consistent with the history of his bloodstock empire for Dubai to persevere through its crisis not only with indifference to scepticism, in others, but also with redoubled ambition, on its own account. Those gathered here for the richest race meeting in history must leave to other fields of expertise the judgement whether they fiddle as Rome burns.

Most racing professionals, after all, still think that the Prime Minister is that bounder Lloyd George. They can hardly be expected to decide whether the breathtaking haste of Dubai's development – recently crowned by the tallest building on the planet – is a symbol of unprecedented endeavour or hubris in 21st century man.

However impertinent their testimony, it will remain unqualified in its enthusiasm. Good grief, if you must blow $2bn (£1.34bn) on something, by all means make it a racecourse. Meydan, the new stage for the Dubai World Cup, is surely the world's most sumptuous sporting facility. If you include the inevitable luxury hotel, its billowing grandstand extends fully a mile long. It could swallow the one at Ascot and still have room for the Albert Hall. And while there has never been a race worth more than $6m, the purse for the big one tonight has been inflated to $10m. One might almost imagine another axiom round here to be "immoderation in all things."

Anyhow, the big bucks have guaranteed corresponding competition from every point of the compass, not least two Newmarket raiders in Twice Over and Gitano Hernando and one from Manton in Crowded House.

The switch from dirt to a synthetic track may not stop the Americans, however, with Gio Ponti (5.45) looking good value now following a pardonable lapse in his prep race. Only Zenyatta could beat him in the Breeders' Cup Classic, and he had previously won four consecutive Grade Ones on an artificial surface, dirt and turf.

Youmzain, the triple Arc runner-up, is back for another crack at the Sheema Classic, while the Japanese bring a well-regarded filly in Buena Vista, but Anmar (4.35) looks tempting at 25-1 as only second string for Godolphin's new, second trainer. Presvis (3.55) can confirm himself one of the benchmark operators in the Dubai Duty Free, while Rocket Man (3.15) can thwart a strong local hope in Gayego in the other Group One. Perhaps Godolphin's key runner of the night, however, is Mendip (2.35) in the UAE Derby.

Back at home the resumption of Flat racing on turf gladdens the heart, as always, and the William Hill Lincoln features a white-knuckle ante-post gamble on Penitent. He is unexposed and certainly in the right hands, but the value has gone now and Tiger Reigns (3.10) could repay connections' patience with this lightly raced four-year-old.

Turf account: Chris McGrath

*Nap

Redford (2.35 Doncaster)

Made an eye-catching start for his new stable when finishing fast from the rear in a Listed race on the all-weather a fortnight ago, and has long looked the type to relish sprinting.

*Next Best

Mount Hadley (2.00 Doncaster)

Nearly landed a gamble first time out last spring, confirming that he goes well fresh over a straight mile, and still feasibly treated on the best form of his youth.

*One To Watch

Khachaturian (D McCain Jnr) set too strong a pace when fifth to stablemate Ballabriggs at Cheltenham. His good jumping should win plenty of chases.

*Where The Money's Going

The Package is 14-1 from 16-1 with Paddy Power for the John Smith's Grand National.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power