MASTER Of Hounds Hounds drew pole position of the 14 runners in the ballot for barrier positions for the world’s richest race, the $10-million Dubai World Cup, over 2000m on the synthetic track at Meydan on Saturday.
It is an ideal draw for Master Of Hounds, who was caught late in the UAE Derby at last year’s Dubai World Cup meeting when trained by Irishman Aidan O’Brien. Master Of Hounds led virtually throughout on the turf on Super Saturday at Meydan recently in his dress-rehearsal for the big night.
The connections of the horses did the draws for their runners at a function on Wednesday and Yousuf Al Sayegh, racing manager for owner Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, said: “There was only [gates] 1 or 14 left (when our name was pulled) and we preferred to be inside.’’
Not so fortunate in the draw was fancied USA challenger Game On Dude, whose trainer Bob Baffert suffered a heart attack in Dubai earlier this week. Game On Dude, runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Classic last year, was the last horse out the hat and the only remaining starting gate berth was No 14, the outside draw in the field. But his connections were far from dismayed.
Owner Bernie Schiappa said: “Perfect position. Lanni (part-owner of Game On Dude who passed away last year) was born on 14 March, so 14 is a special number for us. It’s perfect. The outside is fine with me. I can’t repeat what Bob said on the phone.’’ (Baffert is recovering rapidly in a Dubai hospital.)
Chantal Sutherland, who will ride Game On Dude, added: “It’s fine. Whatever happens, I’ll deal with it. He has a tendency to sometimes break slow and if he was to do that, it could put us in a bit of a predicament on the rail, so on the outside we have more options.’’
Sutherland will become the first woman to ride in the Dubai World Cup when she partners Game On Dude in Saturday’s contest. Another USA challenger Royal Delta, who many pundits are tipping to win, got the ideal draw in No 7 stall. Her trainer Bill Mott said: “It’s the middle of the field. She’ll get a good look at the field from there and number seven has been our lucky number. We’d love for her to win. The reason we’re really here is to see if we can win. I can’t predict the outcome but she is doing really well – well enough to win a race like this.’’
Royal Delta has all the credentials to become the first female runner to win the World Cup. She packs loads of ability and has won on both dirt and synthetic surfaces. Comments from the connections of the other runners about the barrier draws: Eishen Flash (Post 2) – trainer Hideaki Fujiwara said: “Actually I wanted to take the middle part of the gate, but those posts were all taken. I decided on the stage between the 2 and 9, and took 2. This horse showed good performance from the inside at home, so it’s okay.’’
Zazou (Post 3) – owner Werner Heinz said: “I would have preferred to be more in the middle, but those places were taken. I think No 3 is very good. I think you’re better off inside than outside.’’ So You Think (Post 4) – Keith Dalton, representing trainer Aiden O’Brien, said: “I was on the phone to Aidan and he chose the fourth position, so I guess we’re happy.’’
Smart Falcon (Post 5) – trainer Ken Kozaki said: “It is an ideal draw. It is not too inside. It was what we wanted to draw.’’
Planteur (Post 6) – owner Ahmad Al Falasi said: “We wanted somewhere between 4 and 7 so I was happy that 6 was available.’’ Monterosso (Post – Godolphin’s racing manager Simon Crisford said: “We talked to all of our jockeys in the race and they felt from stall 8 outward is the place to be. It can get very tight on the inside, especially if the pace is slow. If you miss the kick, you’re likely to be in trouble. The pace looks likely to come from Game On Dude in stall 14, which has panned out well for us. Monterosso can sit handy, he finishes his races well.’’
Silver Pond (Post 9) – trainer Doug Watson said: “The gate is good. He can push on from there and hopefully travel around midfield. He doesn’t have the greatest turn of foot, so the idea will be to be just behind the pace and kick off the turn.’’ Transcend (Post 10) – owner Koji Maeda said: “No 10 is what I wanted to draw because we can watch the other runners inside of us.’’
Capponi (Post 11) – Crisford said: “Being on the outside is preferable to being on the rail. Capponi just needs a handy position to be out of trouble and to have a clear run. He likes to start building on it from the home bend and he should have his chance to do that from his draw. The question remains whether he is good enough but (jockey) Ahmed Ajtebi has built up a good rapport with the horse, who fully deserves his chance.’’
Prince Bishop (Post 12) and Mendip (Post 13) – trainer Saeed bin Suroor said: “I spoke to Frankie (Dettori) before the draw and he said he would prefer between (stalls) 8 and 12 for Prince Bishop and we’ve drawn 12, so I’m happy with that. I wanted him to be relaxed and happy, so I think being out wide is best for him. Mendip would also be best being out wide and I’m happy with his position.’’