Dubai World Cup round-up

turf.210743Having written a long winded preview for the Worlds most valuable race meeting it would be churlish for me not to follow that up come race day, and seeing as I am sat here in the Media Room at Meydan Racecourse eagerly anticipating the first race with the best view imaginable, it seems to have become my duty to write a detailed report.

 

The Purebred Arabian race started the card and brought the first shock of the day as local favourite Handassa in the famous Hamdan Al Maktoum colours had to be rousted along for the first furlong before running on late in to fourth behind Af Mathmoon who equalled the course record as he made the most of a suicidal early pace by Silvestre De Sousa on board Thakif, who was clear inside the last before running out of steam and wandering across the course effectively giving the million dollar first prize away.

 

Moving on to the first race most of us felt they understood, all be it only slightly, and it appears in my ace incorrectly as I was all over marking like a rash. Falling out of the stalls he had to make up way too much ground and finished fourth behind very impressive winner One man band who not only gave trainer Doug Watson his first World Cup night winner, but broke the course record while beating Faulkner and Cool Cowboy who were in the care of the same trainer. As Europeans we can be proud of our horsemanship as Sam Hitchcott rode the winner while Dane O’Neill was on the runner up, Pat Dobbs third and James Doyle fourth.

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The Gold Cup did look at our mercy (us being the Europeans) and so it proved as Vazirabad landed the odds for France from Big Orange (England), Haafaguinea (England) and Suegioo (also England) for a clean sweep but to be fair, it isn’t one of the more prestigious races. A clever and confident Soumillon ride took him to the front late on for a neck success, and he looks likely to have a good 2016 in all the main staying events.

 

Next up we awaited the crowning of Polar River as she looked to maintain her unbeaten record but what could go wrong did go wrong as finished a frankly disappointing second to Japanese raider Lani who scored at odds of 12/1. After going down on her butt and losing ground coming out of the stalls jockey Pat Dobbs went for non existent gaps not once but twice (or that’s how it looked from here), before coming round the field when it was all to late to pick up second prize. It may be she isn’t as good as we all hoped, or too may races in quick succession have bottomed her out for now, but I am happy to give her another chance wherever she heads off to next.

 

Our sprinters haven’t been as good as we like to think for many years now and the Al Quoz Sprint on the turf just proved it as Buffering won for Australia followed by Ertijaal (UAE), and Peniaphobia (Hong Kong) with our best effort a never nearer fifth for the William Haggas trained Muthmir.

 

Back on the dirt I can relax as we have little of any relevance all day, but are we witnessing a sea change as local trainer  Musabah Al Muhari took this valuable event with Muarrab to add to Doug Watson’s earlier triumph – is the World changing, and is there a new Country capable of challenging on the International Stage (outside of Dubai)? That may yet prove to be the case and why not, they clearly have the facilities and the abilities given the horses, which may make life all the more interesting over the decades ahead.

 

Three races to go now for 2016 and unlike most British cards, they save the best until last.  The Dubai Turf is worth over £4,000,000 (that’s four million pounds) in prize money, so it seems safe to say every entry would be trying their level best and the form ought to be worth following (well, that’s the theory). Tryster was left with far too much to do and ran on in to third while Euro Charline belied his starting price with a valiant second for Newmarket handler Marco Botti but the plaudits went to Ryan Moore who steered Real Steel to an 8/1 success, franking the form of Duramente in the process who had beaten him three times.

 

Naturally, the racing Gods decided to intervene and left Duramente shoeless on one hoof but they raced him anyway, though surely that counts as a handicap? With a ready made excuse he ran better than I expected but not as well as Roger Varian’s Postponed who scored as expected and landed one at last for the British contingent, expats and tourists.  To be fair, his trainer had told everyone he was the best horse in the race and so it proved as he came home with a bit in hand after a good ride from Andrea Atzeni who never let the leaders get too far away from him, letting him loose in the home straight and asking the others to come and catch him which they couldn’t, though Duramente made a very bold attempt in the circumstances.

 

One to go and just the little matter of the richest race on Earth with $10,000,000 in prize money– and that’s a lot of 0’s!  Keeping it simple (I’m tired), and California Chrome gave the race the winner it  needed with a majestic performance.  We had all agreed he was the best horse in the race but were worried by his wide draw but it made not the slightest difference as he won going away by a wide margin and in course record time as well. Admittedly ,the introduction of a dirt track was always going to attract the better Americans over and so it proved but if you want to be nasty, the proximity of runner up Mubtahij is a question mark, though the fact the winner’s saddle slipped as he left the stalls made it an even more noteworthy performance. How long he remains in training now must be open to question (unless he has fertility issues), with a place at stud beckoning along with the money that entails.

 

 

Photos courtesy of Dubai Racing Club/Andrew Watkins/Neville Hopwood

 

Sean Trivass was a guest of the Dubai Racing Club and would like to thank them for their hospitality and assistance.

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