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Horse Racing

American Based Animal Kingdom Dominates Dubai World Cup

Animal Kingdom winning the 2013 edition of the Dubai World Cup. (Photo Edward Whitaker)

Animal Kingdom winning the 2013 edition of the Dubai World Cup. (Photo Edward Whitaker)

With effortless looking but ground devouring strikes, Animal Kingdom crushed his competition in the 18th running of the G1 US$10 million Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates Airline on March 30.

Now owned in partnership by Australia’s Arrowfield Stud and the Team Valor International racing partnership based in the United States, Animal Kingdom stunned even his owners with his remarkable victory by two lengths over late running Red Cadeaux in the world’s richest race at Meydan.

“That was shocking,” exclaimed Team Valor Chief Executive Officer Barry Irwin. “I thought he could win but I didn’t think he could win like that. He proved that not only is he a top horse, but that he is one of the top horses in the world.”

“It’s unbelievable,” said a beaming jockey, Joel Rosario, who waved his whip to cheers and applause as Animal Kingdom strode into the winner’s circle. “He’s a very good horse; he’s very quick.”

Rosario steered Animal Kingdom to loom outside two-time American champion filly Royal Delta, who had set fractions of :26.59, :50.02 and 1:13.63 under Mike Smith, before they swooped to the lead coming out of the far turn. In just a few steps, Animal Kingdom opened up several lengths—and the race was over.

Animal Kingdom, winner of the 2011 G1 Kentucky Derby off a stakes victory on the all-weather Turfway Park track, crossed the finish line in 2:03.21 for the 2000 metres, earning US$6 million for his efforts. Trained by English-born Graham Motion, Animal Kingdom now has a career record of five wins in 11 starts with earnings of $8,387,500.

The victory by the five-year-old son of Leroidesanimaux marked the first by an American-based and –trained runner in the Dubai World Cup since Meydan opened with an all-weather surface in 2010, replacing the dirt track at the old Nad Al Sheba Racecourse on which American runners frequently prevailed.

Red Cadeaux unleashed a strong rally from ninth after 1600 metres to gain the runner-up prize.

“This horse never ceases to amaze me. To run second in the Dubai World Cup and get within two lengths of Animal Kingdom, I’ve got to be happy with that,” said jockey Gerald Mosse.

Planteur, recently acquired by Qatar’s Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al Thani, finished third, 4 3/4 lengths behind Red Cadeaux.

“He was third last year, third this year. I was happy enough with his run,” said jockey Ryan Moore.

The remaining order of finish was Side Glance, African Story, Meandre, Hunter’s Light, Treasure Beach, Kassiano, Royal Delta, Dullahan and Cappon.

Godolphin’s Hunter’s Light, the early favorite in the race off his victory in the G1 Al Maktoum Challenge Round III on March 9, raced in second early but could not keep up in the latter stages.

“He had every chance. He just wasn’t good enough at this level,” said jockey Silvestre de Sousa.

Royal Delta “just didn’t seem to care for it,” Smith said of his mount’s performance on the track surface. “Every time she had to pick it up, she struggled.”

Animal Kingdom’s win was the ninth in the Dubai World Cup by an American-based horse out of the 18 runnings and the first since the race switched to Meydan. The earlier winners were Cigar, Silver Charm, Captain Steve, Pleasantly Perfect, Roses in May, Invasor, Curlin and Well Armed

Quotes for the Group 1 US$10m Dubai World Cup, sponsored by Emirates Airline

Joel Rosario (Animal Kingdom, 1st) – “I knew we had a chance. I’ve never been here before. This is my first time. I watched a lot of races. I had an idea where I needed to go from. I listened to my trainer and to my horse. He’s a very good horse. He did it. He’s very quick. It seemed like a long way home in the stretch.”

Gerard Mosse (Red Cadeaux, 2nd) – “This horse never ceases to amaze me. To run second in the Dubai World Cup and get within two lengths of Animal Kingdom, I’ve got to be happy with that.”

Ryan Moore (Planteur, 3rd) – “He was third last year, third this year. I was happy enough with his run.”

Jamie Spencer (Side Glance, 4th) – “I was really happy with his run. Listen, there are no easy Dubai World Cups and that was a career best effort.”

Andrew Balding (trainer Side Glance, 4th) – “We’re delighted. We’re really pleased that he seemed to handle the surface well and he has doubled his prize money earnings in one night. He’ll go home and be prepared for the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot but longer term his target is the Cox Plate.”

Mickael Barzalona (African Story, 5th) – “He ran well. The distance maybe was a question but I thought he saw it out okay.”

Maxime Guyon (Meandre, 6th) – “I had a good race. My horse was very relaxed but he couldn’t really produce a turn of foot.”

Silvestre De Sousa (Hunter’s Light, 7th) – “He had every chance. He just wasn’t good enough at this level even though he was a Group 1 winner here last time. This was a better race and he was a bit one-paced.”

Christophe Soumillon (Treasure Beach, 8th) – “I had a great race. Unfortunately my horse was only running for place before the race and we went very fast and the fact that I rode him to finish in the first four became difficult in the last turn.”

William Buick (Kassiano, 9th) – “Didn’t get helped by the draw. I had a reasonable run. He ran a good race. This was different company than he has been beating at Meydan this year. When it came to the business end, class told.”

Mike Smith (Royal Delta, 10th) – “My trip was good. She just didn’t seem to care for it. Every time she had to pick it up, she struggled. After four or five passed her, we were pretty much done – then we just got home safe.”

Gary Stevens (Dullahan, 11th) – “He was traveling sweet. Jumped out good. I was a bit closer than I thought I was going to be. He was doing it under his own power. I got him out down the backside. I loved where he was at. Three furlongs out, for whatever reason, he just shut it down. He pulled up great underneath me but he was was, I don’t want to say distressed, but worn out. He was really struggling the last two furlongs.

Ahmed Ajtebi (Capponi, 12th) – “He wasn’t breathing right at the first turn. He was never really going well for me in his first run in a year.”

St Nicholas Abbey Sets His Sheema Classic Record Straight

St Nicholas Abbey gained sweet compensation for his second-place finish in this race last year when storming down the Meydan straight to take the Group 1 US$5m Dubai Sheema Classic, presented by Longines.

Trained by Aidan O’Brien and ridden by his son Joseph, St Nicholas Abbey crossed the line two and a quarter lengths to the good of Japan’s three-year-old champion filly and Japan Cup winner of 2012 Gentildonna in the hands of Yutaka Take, stopping the clock in 2:27.7 seconds, another course record time.

Ridden more closely to the pace this year than last, when runner up to Cirrus des Aigles, St Nicholas Abbey was settled in second place behind Shareta (Christophe Lemaire), who broke the mare alertly from the inside post, and set an honest pace in front. Gentildonna under Take tracked St Nicholas Abbey in third, from Royal Diamond, and the second Japanese contender, Trailblazer.

The race order remained largely unchanged until the turn into the home straight, when Lemaire asked Shareta for her effort, a move that was quickly covered by Joseph O’Brien on the winner.

Gentildonna challenged on the outside and it looked for a moment as if she might mount a serious challenge to St Nicholas Abbey, before it became clear that St Nicholas Abbey had too much in reserve, and ran on to score with a little in hand from Gentildonna.

Qatar’s runner Very Nice Name did best of the rest, running on for third under Olivier Peslier a length and a quarter further back, with the 2011 Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden (Jamie Spencer) who was last of all in the early part of the race making ground for fourth. Await The Dawn finished fifth, with the pace setting Shareta holding on for sixth.

Joseph O’Brien said afterwards, “ There didn’t seem to be much obvious pace and (part owner) Derrick Smith said maybe we should ride him a bit further forward this time. This horse is very tough, very special, he gives his best every day, relaxes and finds plenty. It turns out you can ride him any way you want.”

Yasunari Iwata on Gentildonna said of his horse “ She ran very well today and was in good form. She travelled a little wide and that maybe cost me a bit, and that’s maybe why she couldn’t catch the winner
Sajjhaa Continues Godolphin Success on Dubai World Cup Card With Dubai Duty Free Win
Sajjhaa, the revelation of the Dubai World Cup Carnival, completed an unbeaten four-timer for Godolphin at Meydan by smashing her own course and distance record when it meant the most, in the Group 1 US$5m Dubai Duty Free, sponsored by Dubai Duty Free.

Never worse than third as Gary Stevens enjoyed an uncontested lead on Little Mike, Silvestre De Sousa held his rails position on Sajjhaa and made his move past the leader at the same time as the Mike de Kock-trained pair Igugu and The Apache, 350 metres from the finish.

Igugu was the first to crack, and although The Apache stayed on stoutly, he had no answer to Sajjhaa, a second winner on the card for Godolphin, Saeed bin Suroor and De Sousa after their Dubai Gold Cup success with Cavalryman.

Sajjhaa came home a length a half clear, while The Apache had three-quarters of a length to spare over the late-finishing French-trained filly Giofra, with Trade Storm, another Carnival success story, edging out Igugu for fourth place.

The winner’s time of 1min 47.93sec broke her own record of 1min 48.58sec, set when she won the Group 2 Balanchine on her second start of the Carnival, since when she had stepped out of all-female company for the first time in Dubai in the Group 1 Jebel Hatta.

Silvestre, who took the lead in the Dubai World Cup Carnival jockeys’ championship with this win, said: “She’s a wonderful filly, full of heart, and it was a great performance. She’s just improved and improved since she came here.”

Discussing the race, he added: “I had a good position early on and she made her way through on the inside. She’s very tough and genuine, and I’m very pleased for her.”

Originally trained by the late Michael Jarvis, Sajjhaa was bred by the Darley stud operation of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who was first into the parade ring to greet the six-year-old King’s Best mare.

Reynaldothewizard magic in the Dubai Golden Shaheen

Dubai World Cup Carnival form very much came to the fore as the Meydan-based Reynaldothewizard displayed no end of courage to snatch the Dubai Golden Shaheen, sponsored by Gulf News.

An affinity for the Meydan’s six-furlong dash has long been considered a distinct advantage in the US$2 million feature and the result was almost a replica of the Super Saturday’s Mahab Al Shimaal, with the first three past the post on that occasion dominating again.

Reynaldothewizard won by four lengths earlier in the month but he was made to fight much harder in the third leg of the Global Sprint Challenge.

Having raced handily under his jockey Richard Mullen, the seven-year-old American-bred son of Speightstown held the late challenging Balmont Mast by a neck with Krypton Factor, last year’s winner, half a length further back.

The pace of the race was not quite as breakneck as usual – or as widely anticipated beforehand. The time clocked was 1 minute 12.46 seconds so the steadier speed suited the on-pace Reynaldothewizard who Mullen committed to the lead with well over a furlong to go.

Mullen declared the result the “highlight of his career” and was profuse in his thanks and praise of trainer Satish Seemar and owners Zabeel Racing.

“Dubai has given me my best moments in racing but this tops the lot. I’m overjoyed. I do the easy work. I just sit on board and steer and I’m so happy to win a Group 1 on the biggest stage in racing,” he said.

“I was always travelling well and he gave me everything in the stretch. It’s unbelievable.”

Jockey Johnny Murtagh and trainer Eddie Lynam were left ruing what might have been. One race after Sole Power ran a sound fourth in the Al Quoz from his high draw, outsider Balmont Mast got much closer to victory.

“I was tracking the winner and I thought I was going to catch him inside the furlong but to be fair to him, he kept finding. Great run from our horse, however. There is a big one in him yet,” Murtagh said.

Kieren Fallon felt his wide draw in gate 13 might have cost Krytpon Factor a repeat success in the race.
“We were beaten less than a length but it was still a very good run,” he said.

Godolphin’s race favourite Mental trailed in 10th and never got seriously involved in the race.

Shea Shea Wins Al Quoz Sprint in Course Record Time

South African-bred sprinter Shea Shea broke his own course record and set himself up for a possible clash with World Champion sprinter Black Caviar later in the year with his win in the $US 1 million Al Quoz Sprint (1000m), sponsored by Emirates NBD.

The win also completed a double on World Cup night for trainer Mike de Kock after the win of Soft Failling Rain in the Godolphin Mile.

The five-year-old, who has now won 10 of his 19 starts, scorched over the 1000 metres on the straight turf track in 56.41 seconds, running the last 800 metres in 44.70.

Jockey Christophe Soumillion made full use of Shea Shea’s speed in keeping him well away from the inside rail and he looked to have the race under control from at least the final 400 metres although Joy And Fun proved hard to run down.

Jockey Tye Angland, who rode Joy And Fun, said the nine-year-old ran very well. ‘’He felt like the winner all the way. I could see Shea Shea coming and he was just too good.”

Shea Shea three-quarters of a length from the Hong Kong veteran Joy And Fun who had won the race in 2010 and also finished third last year.

De Kock said that although Shea Shea was expected to win by most fans, ‘’it is never easy winning a race like this.”
Soumillion said he was confident of winning for most of the way. “He likes to come last and catch them on the line and it worked out perfectly.”

Olivier Doleuze who rode the other Hong Kong runner Eagle Regiment, who had been under an injury cloud earlier in the week, said he could have done better if he had not missed two days of work.

“He got a nail in his foot and that’s why he missed work. I really regret that,” Doleuze said.

The former Australian sprinter Starspangledbanner was never in the hunt and jockey Joseph O’Brien said, “They went very quick. They were too fast for him.”

De Kock said She Shea would now be set for the King’s Stand (1000m) at Royal Ascot in June. There is a very good chance Black Caviar, unbeaten from 24 starts, who won the race last year will return to defend her crown.

O’Brien Wins UAE Derby for Second Straight Year

Trainer Aidan O’Brien secured a spot in the Kentucky Derby for the second year in a row with his win with Lines of Battle in the $2 million UAE Derby (G2), sponsored by Al Naboodah. The trainer has plans to send the son of War Front to Kentucky, following in the footsteps of the O’Brien-trained 2012 UAe Derby winner Daddy Long Legs.

“We wanted the race to be a true test, but it wasn’t because of the slow pace, which made it a good win under the circumstances,” said O’Brien. We are very pleased with him and will now go to the Kentucky Derby.”

The UAE Derby is part of the Kentucky Derby Championship Series, and under that race’s new point structure the race is worth 170 points. 100 points will go to the winner Lines of Battle, 40 to second place Elleval; 20 points to third place finisher Secret Number; and 10 to fourth place Snowboarder.

Ridden to victory by Ryan Moore, the big bay colt had an unusual trip. After breaking well Lines of Battle threw his head going into the first turn, then settled into second. The colt shared the lead with Law Enforcement down the backstretch, faded back to third in the turn, then took over at the 400-metre mark. In the stretch Lines of Battle drifted wide but held off Elleval and a late run from Secret Number.

Ryan Moore explained his trip over the 1900 metres on Tapeta.

“It was a farce of a race,” he said. “They only cantered to half way. And my horse was only doing what he needed to. I think he was just the best horse in the race.”

The fractions in the UAE Derby were noticeably slow, with the first 400 metres in 27.06, 800 metres in 52.92 and the final time in 2:02.05.

Godolphin’s Cavalryman Charges Through to Win Dubai Gold Cup

Team Godolphin stormed in to the winner’s enclosure on Dubai World Cup night as Cavalryman returned to form with a vengeance to win the Group 3 US$1m Dubai Gold Cup, sponsored by Al Tayer Motors.

Saeed bin Suroor was the leading trainer during the Dubai World Cup Carnival and continued his excellent run as Silvestre De Sousa brought the successful seven-year-old home three lengths clear of his stablemate Azheemah.

A slow early pace saw many of the 10-strong field pulling hard early and, as Irish raider Saddler’s Rock took control at the head of affairs, De Sousa sat Cavalryman off the pace before unleashing him down the home stretch.

His willing partner forged clear for a Godolphin one-two, with French filly Verema finishing a close-up third.

Cavalryman had been a promising third on his return to action in the City Of Gold on Super Saturday. His campaign last year included a win at Sandown, England, and a midfield finish in the Emirates Melbourne Cup.

But it was his form as a three-year-old that really stands out with the son of Halling winning three races on the bounce including the Grand Prix de Paris prior to his third-place finish behind Sea The Stars in the Prix de’l Arc de Triomphe.

The Gold Cup was only transferred to Dubai World Cup night last year when won by another Godolphin trainer in Mahmood Al Zarooni, with Bin Suroor having won the previous three renewals since its inception in 2009.

The thrilled winning trainer said: “We had tried him over the two miles last year and he got the trip well when winning at Sandown so we were very happy with the horse. The reason I was confident tonight was that the horse has a very good turn of foot.”

De Sousa, in just his second season with Godolphin, said: “Everything went to plan for me – the pace was a bit slow to halfway and I was happier when it quickened. He travelled well throughout and quickened up well. It is a big night but the pressure will come later. At least the Godolphin horses are running well.”

Imperial Monarch was popular beforehand but Aidan O’Brien’s four-year-old never really picked up and weakened back to fifth under Ryan Moore, who commented: “I am not sure of he saw the 3200-metre trip out. He travelled well enough and had evevry chance at the top of the straight.”

Saddler’s Rock took seventh after his front-running efforts but may have been closer had misfortune not befell him down the straight.

His trainer John Oxx said: “The jockey said he might have been third had the saddle not slipped.”

And rider Declan McDonogh added: “I could not ride him in the last two furlongs. The saddle slipped back six inches at the barrier and I was in trouble most of the way round. It is a pity.”

Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Pair Take Top Spots In Godolphin Mile, Sponsored by Etisalat

Horses owned by Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum filled the first two places in a thrilling renewal of the US$1 million Godolphin Mile, sponsored by Etisalat after Soft Falling Rain collared Haatheq deep into the stretch to score by three-quarters of a length under Paul Hanagan.

As game as the winner was, Haatheq looked likely to prevail when Royston Ffrench kicked for home with 400 metres remaining of the 1,600-metre journey. The evergreen six-year-old, who ran fifth in this race last year, dashed into a clear lead that forced Soft Falling Rain to dig deep to overhaul.

“It was an incredible race and he ran his heart out,” Ffrench said afterwards. “It was great for His Highness to finish first and second. Obviously I’d have liked to have been on the other end of it but I’m very pleased.”

Having broken alertly, Soft Falling Rain was obliged to race wide as Red Jazz went to the front, but Capital Attraction soon advanced to take control at halfway. At that stage Paul Hanagan aboard the winner had no choice but to launch his bid on the outer, forfeiting ground as he raced widest of all into the straight.

“They went so quick from the start that I had to go wider than I wanted all the way,” Hanagan related. “I wondered whether he could come forward when we reached the straight but this horse is so genuine.”

Soft Falling Rain only eroded Haatheq’s lead inch by inch but he had built an inexorable momentum even though Hanagan was riding him hard. And while the two horses served up a compelling stretch duel there was marginally more purpose to Soft Falling Rain’s stride.

It was a particularly noteworthy victory from the son of National Assembly, since he was the only three-year-old in the 16-runner field.

Soft Falling Rain is now unbeaten in six starts, the last three in Dubai after posting three on the bounce in South Africa for Mick de Kock’s stable. He landed the UAE 2,000 Guineas sponsored by Al Tayer Motors with great ease but had to battle hard this time.

“I haven’t seen too many horses under pressure that far out and still find something at the finish,” a delighted de Kock said. “It just shows how good a horse he is. Turning for home I would have been happy to be second but the horse dug in and fought all the way.”

Soft Falling Rain is now scheduled to transfer to Britain, where he will contest that country’s best sprint prizes. “I would rather drop him back in trip that step him up,” de Kock said. “He shows plenty of natural speed in his homework.”

Moonwalk In Paris finished with a flourish to take third place, one length ahead of Sarkiyla in fourth, with Alpha and Rerouted running respectably in fifth and sixth places

Al Mamun Monlau Wins Again for Qatar

The finish of the 18th edition of the Group 1 PA Dubai Kahayla Classic set the tone for Dubai World Cup night after Al Mamun Monlau produced a fabulous turn of foot to catch Versac PY as they went past the finish post.

Only a short head separated the Jean-François Bernard-trained winner from Versac PY, while last year’s winner TM Fred Texas finished a further 2 ¾ lengths back in third.

“I knew he was going well when they were coming round the bend,” said Jean-François Bernard.

“Christophe Soumillon was holding on to him, but he was pulling, trying to go to the front.”

Christophe Soumillon knows how to ride a winner at Meydan, but he still had to wait a few anxious moments before his victory was confirmed. For Paul Hanagan, who must have thought that he had the race in his pocket after the Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid

Al Maktoum’s Versac PY took an easy lead in the final 400 metres, being runner-up was obviously a bit of a disappointment.

“He ran a great race and he did everything right and we just got nailed at the end,” he said.

Areem and his jockey Ahmad Ajtebi had set a fierce pace in the early stages of the 2000-metre race and at one point had a five-lengths lead on Sahib Du Clos and Rich Frynchman. Versac PY and Al Mamun Monlau were travelling in mid-field at that point, but as soon as they entered the final straight, the order rapidly changed. Versac PY took the lead, but Al Mamun Monlau finished very strongly on his outside to secure victory in the final stride. Owned by Sheikh Joaan Bin Hamad Bin

Khalifa Al Thani, following TM Fred Texas’ success last year, this was another winner for Qatar.

Christophe Soumillon said: “It was a perfect race for me. At first I followed the favourite but when I saw that he wasn’t travelling well I went inside and followed Sheikh Hamdan’s horse. When he went clear in the home straight I switched between horses to chase him and I could feel my horse taking a deep breath. He had a lot of ground to make up but in the end he was very genuine to catch the leader in the last stride.”

The five-year-old Al Mamun Monlau has not always been an easy horse to train and had an issue with entering the stalls in the early stages of his career, but he was the example of calm today.

His trainer said: “He liked it here from the day he arrived. He had a lot of speed left halfway round the turn and I thought he would win. Christophe rode a great race and I’m very happy.”


About Kenneth Vella

A horse racing enthusiast and journalist. He started his career in 1992 and today is the main correspondent on horse racing for In-Nazzjon, Il-Mument and the Times of Malta. He also writes on a number of international magazines and produces TV programmes for E22 and TVM.Kenneth is the proud winner of two consecutive awards of the Malta Broadcasting Awards for the best sport programmes with documentaries.


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