DUBAI World Cup is set to generate another series of epic contests as the drama of the 2012 edition of horseracing’s equivalent of the Olympic Games unfolds at Meydan Racecourse on Saturday night.
More than120 horses from a dozen of the world’s leading racing nations will battle it out across nine races – eight for thoroughbreds and one for Arabians – with collective prize money of $27.25-million. It is the richest race meeting on earth and will be watched by a huge global audience of more than 100 million viewers. It is the greatest horseracing show on the planet and it’s going to be spectacular and absorbing viewing.
There will be live TV coverage in all TABs and on Tellytrack, with DStv also screening the action live on SS6 from 5pm (the SA Classic at Turffontein will dominate the first 30 minutes of the coverage with Dubai taking pride of place after that).
There’s loads of South African interest – South African trainers Mike de Kock and Herman Brown have 15 runners between them, while Patrick Shaw and Tony Millard, once leading lights in South African racing and now plying their trade in the Far East, will also be there.
Millard has brought Ambitious Dragon from Hong Kong and Shaw and South African owner Fred Crabbia will be represented by globetrotting champion speedster Rocket Man, who is based in Singapore. And we’re even represented in the Kayhala Classic for Arabians, in which former South African trainer Ernst Oertel has two runners!
Robert Garner has been a regular attendee at Dubai World Cup since the event’s inception in 1996 and reckons there’s money to be made as the world greatest equine warriors and horsemen (and horsewomen thanks to Chantal Sutherland and Hayley Turner) go head to head at Meydan. Check out his race-by-race guide below:
ROBERT GARNER writes that races will be won and lost in the blink of a jockey’s eye at Meydan. The races, nine this year instead of the usual eight as a result of the addition of the Dubai Gold Cup to the card, look more competitive than ever.
Not one trainer or jockey I’ve spoken to here has exactly exuded confidence and that underlines just how close it will be on the Meydan tracks.
SA’s champion trainer Mike de Kock has had nine winners at this meeting since 2003 – nearly double the number of any other international trainer – and he will treat any fruit that falls his way as a bonus. “Generally I’m delighted with my runners’ fitness but many top international runners have come in and it’s going to be hard to run a place, let alone win.”
The combination of competive racing and the fact that TAB is hosting the global tote pools (more than R40-million is set to be bet) should ensure good prices and some hefty payouts.
So let’s get down to business.
RACE 1: Arabians – never easy. On ratings it is a match between Seraphin Du Paon and Nieshan, first and second a year ago when separated by a neck. But Versac Py is on a winning roll and Richard Hills would love to close his riding career with a World Cup win, even if it is in the Arabian race.
RACE 2: Godolphin’s No 1 trainer Saeed Bin Suroor said at the Breakfast With The Stars gathering at Meydan on Thursday morning that African Story was his best for the night. Trainers, like all of us, often get it wrong, but African Story looks sharp and ranks the bet of the meeting from a good draw. Expect stablemate Do It All to chase him home.
RACE 3: Herman Brown has his best shot of the night with Super Saturday winner Mikhail Glinka and former top South African jockey Glyn Schofield has come all the way from Sydney to ride him. “He stays well and I’m hoping for a big run,’’ says Brown. But he has two formidable rivals in Godolphin stablemates Fox Hunt (to be ridden by new kid on the block Silvestre de Sousa) and Opinion Poll (Frankie Dettori). Close call, look for the best value, although Frankie still pulls rabbits out of hats sometimes and could pay to follow.
RACE 4: UAE Derby. Aussie challenger Helmet is the highest-rated horse in the race (Aus trainer Peter Snowden will hand Helmet and stablemate Sepoy over to Suroor or Zarooni to campaign for Godolphin in the UK summer season) but is drawn wide in a race in which home ground advantage is huge – which is why Suroor (six wins) and De Kock (five wins) are the only trainers to have won the it. So ignore that De Kock’s Mickdaam is rated five to seven pounds inferior to Helmet and archrival Aidan O’Brien’s Daddy Long Legs and Wrote, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf over 1600m. Wrote is a class act, but this is not over 1600m and it’s not on turf. It could pay to be patriotic and have a good Eachway bet on Mickdaam, while the likes of Lucky Chappy and Maritimer are not out it.
RACE 5: Turf sprint. Loaded with possibilities but Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Regally Ready and Aussie raider Ortensia could fight it out – with my preference being for Ortensia.
RACE 6: 1200m Golden Shaheen. Is last year’s winner Rocket Man the horse he was after failures in Hong Kong and Japan? Pat Shaw says yes and, from No 1 draw and with Felix Coetzee aboard, Rocket Man looks worth a dabble at his current odds. But Americans Giant Ryan and The Factor should make it hot for him.
RACE 7: $5-million Dubai Duty Free and De Kock’s best shot for glory with the fast-improving Mutahadee, who he reckons is at least six pounds better than rated. Have an Eachway bet in a power field that includes the likes of Ambitious Dragon (to be ridden by South African Doug Whyte for Millard), last year’s winner Previs, O’Brien’s Await The Dawn and Dark Shadow.
RACE 8: $5-million Dubai Sheema Classic. Look for a better run from De Kock’s Bold Silvano, but it looks a straight fight between Cirrus des Aigles and O’Brien’s St Nicholas Abbey and Treasure Beach. Aidan’s son Joseph got the best out of St Nicholas Abbey at the Breeders’ Cup and can do so again. Have a bet.
RACE 9: The big one with $10-million on the line. The Americans may dominate and pretty blonde rider Chantal Sutherland can make history by scoring on Game On Dude. Alternatively, top US filly Royal Delta, who has won on dirt and synthetic surfaces, could take it. What’s not in their favour is that no female runner nor woman jockey has won the World Cup. It’s about time it happened. But expect a good effort from Godolphin’s Capponi. – from Racing Express. (Photo by Andrew Watkins).