Irish raider Ruler Of The World was the favourite going into the 19th running of the Dubai World Cup.
But it was African Story who rewrote the script on a pleasant evening in Dubai to come from behind and beat British raider Mukhadram owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance.
African Story proved the catalyst for the Meydan grandstand to erupt on Saturday evening as Saeed bin Suroor’s Godolphin runner streaked away with the 19th running of the $10m Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates.
The trainer was winning the world’s richest race for a sixth time and provided HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, with a seventh triumph.
Bin Suroor had failed to lift the trophy since Electrocutionist scored at Nad Al Sheba in 2006 and African Story was the long-standing handler’s first win in the race at the imposing Meydan Racecourse.
"It's an amazing feeling and he just proved he's the best," De Sousa said of the seven-year-old African Story, who was fifth last season.
"He was very unlucky here last time when he banged his head in the stalls, but he has proved he's the boy.
"It's an amazing feeling, one of absolute delight. Godolphin called me to ask me to join their team and I was privileged to accept.
"Saeed thought African Story was a great horse. He had a couple of issues, especially on his second start this year, but tonight he was at his absolute best.
"In fact, I had to pinch myself because of how well he was travelling.
"I got to track the leader on his outside and then in the straight - all I had to do was take aim. It really was the perfect race for me.
"In my first season I managed 25 winners and then I missed out on the championship by just four. Obviously this is a big move in my career, riding for Godolphin.
"There is pressure, but at the same time I think I have shown that I have given my best and that there may still be more to come."
Mukhadram, trained by William Haggas, led from the start in the 2,000m Group 1 race on All-Weather before African Story made his move.
Fellow Godolphin handler Charlie Appleby, in his debut World Cup meeting, had the satisfaction of seeing American raider Cat O'Mountain with Mickael Barzalona aboard finishing third.
10.05pm DUBAI WORLD CUP (GROUP 1) Thoroughbreds - 2,000m All-Weather
$10,000,000 sponsored by Emirates Airline
And now for the big one as the Dubai World Cup night comes to a climax with the $10 million Group 1 race on All-Weather surface.
The 19th running of the richest horse race at Meydan boasts a maximum field of 16, including the Epsom Derby winner, Ruler Of The World (IRE), who has been installed as the favourite.
Connections will be hoping Ruler Of The World can fair better than the 1998 Epsom Derby winner, High-Rise, who failed to beat a rival in the 1999 Dubai World Cup.
Godolphin stalwart, Saeed bin Suroor, has saddled the winner of the Dubai World Cup on five previous occasions.
Prince Bishop (IRE) and African Story (GB) have got favourable draws.
Bin Suroor said: “We have always really liked Prince Bishop and he has thrived this year. He has a good draw and we expect a big run."
Fellow Godolphin handler, Charlie Appleby, preparing for his debut World Cup meeting, also saddles two with stable jockey, Mickael Barzalona, choosing to ride Cat O’Mountain (USA).
That leaves William Buick to ride Vancouverite (GB) and Appleby said: “The draw has not been kind to Cat O’Mountain and Mickael is particularly disappointed. We will have to ride him for luck and hope some gaps appear in the straight."
South African Mike De Kock has yet to win this race but his Sanshaawes (SAF) is well drawn in five and the trainer said: “We had a poor draw last time so a good one here can only help. He has improved throughout the Dubai World Cup Carnival but will need to do so again in a tough renewal.”
Akeed Mofeed (GB) and Military Attack (IRE) both represent Hong Kong and fared well in the draw. The latter is in stall eight, to the delight of his trainer, John Moore who said: “That is the one we wanted – eight is considered lucky in Hong Kong.”
Richard Gibson trains Akeed Mofeed, drawn four.
The UK has four representatives, including Hillstar (GB), trained by Sir Michael Stoute who is looking for a big race double having won the 1997 Dubai World Cup with Singspiel for Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Fellow UK challengers, Red Cadeaux (GB), trained by Ed Dunlop and the Andrew Balding-trained Side Glance (GB), were second and fourth in this race 12 months ago.
Sheikh Hamdan has seen his famous blue and white silks carried to Dubai World Cup victory twice before and he owns the fourth runner from England, the William Haggas-trained Mukhadram (GB).
Seeking a second win in the race after the victory of Victoire Pisa in 2011, Japan have two runners, in the shape of Belshazzar (JPN) and Hokko Tarumae (JPN).
The hopes of a first Saudi Arabian-trained winner were severely diminished when their Ron The Greek (USA), a former US-based horse was drawn widest of all in 16.
Gentildonna wins Dubai Sheema Classic
Dual Japan Cup winner Gentildonna, finally lived upto her billing to win the $5 million Dubai Sheema Classic.
A Dubai World Cup favourite, the Japanese supermare with Ryan Moore aboard came from behind in the final back straight to win by a length and a half from race favourite Cirrus Des Aigles.
The French gelding attempting to win the contest twice lost the sprint to the post as Gentildonna smashed the track record for the 2,410m turf feature clocking 2:27.25.
Another Japanese raider Denim And Ruby who led for much of the race faded away at the end with Ambivalent coming home third followed by Empoli.
Moore rode Gentildonna for the first time in her win in last year’s Japan Cup and has obviously developed a rapport with her, despite admitting after last night’s race that she was not the easiest horse – to ride.
“It’s hard to know just how good she is because when she gets to the front she doesn’t do a lot, but she’s very tough, and a hard horse to get to the bottom of,’’ Moore said.
Gentildonna has now won nine races with three seconds and a third from her 15 starts.
In an incident-packed race Gentildonna won by a length and a half from the French-trained veteran Cirrus Des Angles with English mare Ambivalent a half a length away in third.
The start was delayed for some minutes when Ambivalent, who is renowned for her pre-race antics, refused to go into the starting stalls and the attendants had to finally place a hood on her to get her into the gates.
About 400m after the start, the Mike de Kock-trained Mars veered out sharply causing interference to two other runners before crashing through the outside running rail.
Jockey Richard Hughes escaped with cuts and bruises and was momentarily winded after landing on his back. He was taken to hospital for precautionary x-rays.
In an amazing night’s racing, all four events run on the turf track produced track records.
Gentildonna’s time for the 2400m of 2:27.25 shaved 0.25 off the previous record.
Owner Shon Yoshida from Japan’s famous Northern Farm said he was not sure where Gentildonna would be heading next but there were no thoughts of retiring her this year.
9.17pm DUBAI SHEEMA CLASSIC (GROUP 1) Thoroughbreds - 2,410m turf
$5,000,000 sponsored by Longines
- A stellar cast of 15 equine stars are set to do battle in the Group 1 $5m Dubai Sheema Classic presented by Longines in one of the classiest renewals of the turf race.
- The 2012 winner of the 2,410m contest, French galloper Cirrus Des Aigles (FR) is among those to grace the Meydan turf and attempt to become the first to make history by winning the contest twice.
- Aidan and Joseph O’Brien won the race for the first time with the success of St Nicholas Abbey last year. This term they combine with one of the leading lights - Magician (IRE).
- Winner of both the 2013 Irish 2000 Guineas and 2013 Breeders’ Cup Turf, he has a great draw in four.
- Dunaden (FR), Meandre (FR), Ambivalent (IRE) and Dominant (IRE) are all Group 1 winners.
Just A Way wins Dubai Duty Free
Japanese raider Just A Way came from a long way behind to blow his rivals with a final spurt and win the $5 million Dubai Duty Free race in style.
Jockey Yuichi Fukunaga was almost speechless after his spectacular triumph for the Japanese connections of Akatsumi Yamatoya after Tokei Halo, another Japanese had led from the start until the final 400 metres.
But Just A Way produced a stunning final sprint to win the 1,800m Group 1 turf race by more than six lengths from one of the favourites, Vercingetorix, smashing the track record in this event by stopping the clock at 1:47.93.
British raider Dank had to settle for third while American Mshawish ridden by Frankie Dettori finished fourth.
“I wanted to take a midfield position but Vercengetorix was where I wanted to be,” said the winning jockey. “I decided to follow him and when I got to the straight he accelerated very well – as I thought he would.”
Ryan Moore, by contrast, kept Dank (GB) towards the inside and encountered trouble before running on into third place.
“The winner was alongside me for the first half of the race,” Moore said. “I was caught in traffic and felt she (Dank) was the second-best horse in the race. She ran a great race after her five-month absence (from the track).”
The South African challenger, Vercengetorix (SAF), weaved through to strike the front with 300m left but no sooner did jockey Christophe Soumillion entertain thoughts of victory than he was swamped by the winner.
“I thought I’d win when we turned for home so I was left speechless when the Japanese horse came flying past me,” Soumillon said.
Having cruised past Vercengetorix (SAF), Just A Way (JPN) opened up in the last 200m, drawing away with every stride to register by 6¼ lengths from Vercengetorix (SAF). Dank came home a further 1¾ lengths adrift, with Mshawish in fourth.
8.39pm. DUBAI DUTY FREE (GROUP 1) Thoroughbreds - 1,800m turf
The $5 million Group 1 Dubai Duty Free, sponsored by Dubai Duty Free, is one of the strongest races on the Dubai World Cup card and 13 are set to face the starter in the 1,800m turf feature.
Super Saturday’s Group 1 Jebel Hatta, over the same course and distance, was won by South African raider Vercingetorix, trained by South African Mike De Kock who has won the race three times – including with Right Approach who famously dead-heated in the 2004 renewal.
The UK are well represented and The Fugue, originally thought to be a Dubai World Cup candidate but switched to this contest last weekend, looks guaranteed to run a big race.
Tasaday (USA) and Hunter’s Light (IRE) both represent Godolphin and Saeed bin Suroor. Favourite when disappointing in last year’s Dubai World Cup, Hunter’s Light is a Group 1 winner on both turf and all-weather.
Japan is particularly well represented with three runners, of whom Just A Way, looks the leading light.
Sterling City produced a bolt from out of the blue to win the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen 1,200m sprint on All-Weather.
Trained by John Moore for the Hong Kong connections of Ling Chiu Shing and Gary Ling Kay Wai, Joao Moreira became the second jockey to win a double on Dubai World Cup night having won the Al Quoz Sprint earlier.
Zee Bros, Godolphin's Complicate and hot favourite Rich Tapestry did the early running but Sterling City got a second win in the final 200 metres to win by a quarter of a length Rich Tapestry in a thrilling race.
United Color came in third while Reynaldothewizard finished fourth.
“I am estactic to win here in Dubai. It’s every trainer’s dream,” said trainer John Moore.
“Rich Tapestry’s facile win the other day (G3 Mahab Al Shimaal on Super Saturday) made me think my fellow had a chance today. The jockey said he didn’t like it early on the all-weather, but once he got him clear, he flew home.”
It was 2 ¼ lengths back to United Color in third. Defending Golden Shaheen champ Reynaldothewizard checked in fourth.
“I got run down by a good horse,” said Rich Tapestry’s jockey Olivier Doleuze. “I had the trip I wished to have. When I asked him under pressure, he gave me his kick. He travelled very well throughout the race but he went from going very good to full power without it making much difference. He gave me a short burst but then he stopped a little bit after that.”
7.41pm. DUBAI GOLDEN SHAHEEN (GROUP 1) Thoroughbreds - 1,200m All-Weather
$2,000,000 sponsored by Gulf News
- The last two winners of the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen are back this year seeking a second victory in this 1,200m sprint on the Meydan Racecourse all-weather surface.
- The Satish Seemar-trained Reynaldothewizard (USA) won the race last year, providing stable jockey, Richard Mullen, with a first Group 1 winner in the process.
- Trained by Michael Chang, Rich Tapestry will have to overcome a wide draw in 12 whereas Sterling City (AUS), also representing Hong Kong and in the capable hands of John Moore, is ideally berthed in four.
Amber Sky wins $1m Al Quoz Sprint
Australian raider Amber Sky ridden by Joao Moreira was crowned the fastest horse on Dubai World Night winning the 1,000m Al Quoz Sprint on turf in a new record time of 56.21 seconds.
The four-year old bay gelding delighted the Hong Kong connections of owner Hung Kam Po and trainer Ricky Yiu after winning by a neck from Godolphin's Ahtoug trained by Charlie Appleby.
Amber Sky led from the start before Berlino Di Tiger and Hamza briefly went ahead.
Shea Shea, one of the favourites, began last in the final 400 metres but made a frantic dash to the post only to be denied by British raider Ahtough with Dubai World Cup winning jockey Mickael Barzalona aboard spurring his charge to come second by a head.
Medicean Man came in fourth, a length and a quarter behind Shea Shea.
It was Hong Kong’s second victory in the race since Joy And Fun won it in 2010 and trainer Ricky Yiu’s first success on Dubai World Cup night.
For Brazilian-born jockey Joao Moreira, who has made such an impression in his maiden campaign in Hong Kong, his first ride at the world’s richest meeting turned to gold.
“He’s such a fast horse and very easy to ride. I was able to not let him go too fast in the early stages, to hold onto him a bit, but when I pushed the button he gave me another kick and kept going to the line,” Moreira said post-race.
“Near the line I could feel the other two horses coming at me, I didn’t know who they were, but he kept sticking his neck out and we got there. This is such a thrill for me to win a Group 1 on the biggest stage of all.”
Trainer Ricky Yiu said he would consider further international options for the straight 1,000m specialist.
“It was always the plan to come here and win an international race. The King’s Stand at Royal Ascot is a possible target but I will talk to the owners first,” Yiu commented.
“It’s a stiff five furlongs (1000m) uphill at Ascot so it would be a new challenge but he’s an improving horse.
“I’m just very relieved he won. It was tough. They were all coming at him in the last 1000m and I was worried that he might get tired but he fought really well,” he added.
7.03pm AL QUOZ SPRINT (GROUP 1) Thoroughbreds - 1,000m turf
$1,000,000 sponsored by IPIC
- The 1,000m Al Quoz sprint will feature a fascinating contest between defending champion Shea Shea (SAF) and the new kid in town, the Hong Kong speedball, Amber Sky (AUS).
- Shea Shea is the form horse at Meydan, holding the track record set last year and winning the Super Saturday 2014 Meydan Sprint on his seasonal debut.
- Hong Kong speedster Amber Sky (Aus), trained by Ricky Yiu, could not have been more impressive when winning a 1,000m Sha Tin dash in January and looks a massive danger to De Kock’s charge.
Toast of New York wins $2m UAE Derby
American raider Toast Of New York gave British jockey Jamie Spencer his second win on Dubai World Cup as he galloped to victory in the $2,000,000 UAE Derby.
Spencer, who was under a cloud after winning the Godolphin Mile earlier, was the clear winner by two and half lengths in the 1,900m race on All-Weather.
Irish raider Safety Check did the early running but it turned out to be a battle between Toast Of New York and Asmar.
Toast Of New York showed a fine turn of feet and unloaded in the final 400 metres to spurt past Irish raider Asmar who won by a length and quarter from Emirates Flyer who nosed past one of the favourites Giovanni Boldini.
“In my wildest dreams I didn’t expect him to win like that,” said a beaming trainer Jamie Osborne, a former National Hunt jockey in England who trains Toast of New York for Michael Buckley.
The one person at Meydan who was not in the least stunned by Toast of New York’s scintillating run was Spencer.
“I am not at all surprised,” Spencer said. “This horse has been doing good things all along.”
6.25pm UAE DERBY (GROUP 2) Thoroughbreds - 1,900m All-Weather
$2,000,000 sponsored by Saeed and Mohammed Al Naboodah Group
- O’Brien eyes third consecutive UAE Derby
- Irish Maestro Saddles Two in UAE Classic - Long John Holds Godolphin Hopes
- With stable jockey and trainer’s son, Joseph, unable to ride at 55kgs, Ryan Moore comes in for the ride on Giovanni Boldini (USA) who looks the stable’s first choice.
- De Kock relies on Jallota (GB), with Bin Suroor saddling both Paximadia (Aus) and Emirates Flyer (GB) but all three look to have something to prove in this field.
- Godolphin’s second trainer, Charlie Appleby, saddles his exciting Group 3 UAE 2000 Guineas hero Long John (AUS), winner of last year’s Group 1 Caulfield Guineas for his previous trainer, Peter Snowden.
Certerach beats Cavalryman by neck to win $1,000,000 Dubai Gold Cup
Irish stayer Certerach broke Godolphin's stranglehold on the $1,000,000 Dubai Gold Cup when he hung on grimly on the rails to pip last year's winner Cavalryman at the post.
Certerach spurred by Jamie Spencer stayed in the pack throughout the 3,200m 'marathon' on the turf with another Irish raider Ralston Road holding the lead briefly at intervals.
Silvestre De Sousa made his move weaving through the traffic by going on the outside in the final stretch but the Paul Rooney trained Certerach pipped Cavalryman at the post.
The joy of the winner’s Irish connections, who tasted Dubai World Cup Carnival success before he finished third to Cavalryman in the Gold Cup prep race, had to be put on ice, when an objection for “interference in the final 100m” was lodged.
However, after trainer Saeed bin Suroor and de Sousa had put their case to the stewards, the objection was withdrawn and Certerach declared the winner to climax a very successful Carnival for Halford.
A relieved and delighted Halford said: "Certerach has a tendency to idle when he gets to the front and the last 100m seemed very, very long. He shifted in slightly but Jamie said we had nothing to worry about.”
5.45pm DUBAI GOLD CUP (GROUP 2) Thoroughbreds - 3,200m turf
$1,000,000 sponsored by Al Tayer Motors
- Saeed bin Suroor will be seeking a fourth win in the race and saddles Cavalryman (GB), winner of the race last year and bidding to become the first dual winner of the most recent addition to the Dubai World Cup card.
- Cavalryman hot favourite for back-to-back wins in stayers’ race
- Stable companion, Songcraft (IRE), won a 2,400m handicap at the Dubai World Cup Carnival in February before an excellent second in the Group 2 Dubai City of Gold on Super Saturday, over the same trip.
Variety Club wins Godolphin Mile sponsored by Meydan Sobha
Variety Club surprised defending champion Soft Falling Rain to win the $1,000,000 Godolphin Mile which turned out to be a battle between South African trainers and horses.
South African Horse of the Year, Variety trained by Joey Ramsden, led from start to post, to beat Mike de Kock's Soft Falling Rain comfortably.
Flotilla came in third.
Trainer Joey Ramsden said: “To come here to compete means a lot, but to win is something special. Anton gave him a fantastic ride, and he got into a soft lead, and this gives me so much pleasure and all of South Africa. It may take a while to sink in.”
Jockey Paul Hanagan was full of praise for Soft Falling Rain’s efforts. “He has run a great race, and it’s no disgrace to be beaten by the winner. He was beaten by a very good horse and the race went exactly as I would have liked it to.”
5.10PM GODOLPHIN MILE (GROUP 2), 600m - All-weather
Thoroughbreds $1,000,000 sponsored by Meydan Sobha
- Soft Falling Rain bids to defend Godolphin Mile crown
- The maximum field of 16 have been declared, including Godolphin’s Shuruq (USA), winner of last year’s UAE Oaks and twice a course and distance winner this season.
Rabbah de Carrere wins the Dubai Kahayla Classic
Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, achieved victory for the second time in the 2,000m All-Weather race for Purebred Arabians after saddling five runners.
Djainka des Forges did the early running and was leading at the final turn but the five-year old trained by Majed Al Jahouri held onto the rails to nose ahead at the finish in a classic start.
Musharab finished third and Nieshan came in fourth.
4.30pm DUBAI KAHAYLA CLASSIC (GROUP 1) - 2,000m (All-Weather)
Purebred Arabians, $250,000 sponsored by EMAAR
- Meydan is bathed in brilliant sunshine as racegoers wait with bated breath for the 19th renewal of Dubai World Cup night which begins with the only Purebred Arabian race on the card with the Dubai Kahayla Classic at 4.30pm.
- 2013 winner bids aims to emulate Alanudd and Madjani who won in three in a row.
- The nine-racecard for the $27.25m Dubai World Cup boasts some of the best racehorses in training contesting nine of the most high-profile races on the global racing calendar.
- Al Mamun Monlau (FR) will attempt to become only the third horse in the history of the Group 1 Dubai Kahayla Classic to win the race back to back when he faces the starter in the 2,000m All-Weather race which carries prize money of $250,000.
- Alanudd won the Purebred Arabian race sponsored by EMAAR three consecutive times between 1997 and 1999, while Madjani also won it in 2005, 2006 and 2007, but since then none of the last five winners have managed to get back onto the podium.
- Connections of the 2014 winner fear that the 2014 renewal will also fail to produce a consecutive winner.
- The Jean-François Bernard trained Al Mamun Monlau was a very impressive winner of last year’s edition of the opening race on Dubai World Cup night. Ridden by Christophe Soumillon, who this year will be on board the fancied Mushrae, Al Mamun Monlau had to overcome the outside draw of 16 to score.
Form guide to the Dubai World Cup race
- Ruler Of The World has a chance to make up for a narrow defeat at Ascot late last year, with the four-year-old colt installed as favourite to win Saturday's $10 million Dubai World Cup, the world's richest horse race. The Irish-bred son of Galileo was made 4-1 favourite for the 19th running of the 2,000 metre Dubai World Cup despite returning from a five-month lay-off and the fact that it will be his first run on a synthetic tapeta surface.
- Sixteen runners, including nine Group 1 winners, from eight countries will compete for the prized golden trophy in front of an expected crowd of 60,000 in what connections see as an open contest.
- However, no American horses are participating this year despite Animal Kingdom's success in 2013.
- More race mileage may give an edge to Hong Kong-trained runners such as Irish-bred Military Attack, who won the Hong Kong Gold Cup by three lengths in a blazing finish last month for the second year in a row. "Hong Kong horses that are coming are very, very fit, while a lot of European horses... they have not even had races before," said John Moore, Military Attack's trainer, who drew the number eight stall, a figure considered lucky in Hong Kong.
- Another Hong Kong-trained runner, Akeed Mofeed, is an 8-1 bet despite finishing a disappointing fifth behind Military Attack in the Gold Cup at Sha Tin, sharing the same odds with Saeed bin Suroor's Prince Bishop.
- Veteran eight-year old Red Cadeaux is set to make another bid for the World Cup on Saturday after losing by two lengths to Animal Kingdom last year. However, the November Melbourne Cup runner-up is regarded as an outsider at 25-1 this time. He came fourth in the Hong Kong Vase in December, his last track appearance.
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Godolphin saddles up
Trainers shipping horses into Dubai World Cup night are anxious enough for their horses to acquit themselves with honours, but a greater burden of expectation rests with those already on site where horses will vie for a share of a record prize purse worth US$27.25 million.
For Saeed Bin Suroor and Charlie Appleby, there is no more poignant a stage than the one built by their stable patron, according to Dubai Racing Club.
Worldwide Godolphin racing operation is at the forefront of the racing industry and the organisation's two trainers, Appleby and Bin Suroor are all too aware of the fact that the world will be watching, the club said in a press release.
"It is very important for us to have a winner," affirmed Bin Suroor, who will be crowned champion trainer at the Dubai World Cup Carnival for the seventh time at the end of the night.
"Last year we had two, and luckily we have some nice horses for Saturday. I think we have a chance in seven (of the nine) races." Bin Suroor is plainly the man to beat.
He has won 32 races on World Cup night and saddles 11 horses this time - among them two runners, African Story and Prince Bishop, in the world's richest race, the US$10 million Group 1 Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates.
He sees possibilities in both horses.
"Physically, Prince Bishop has improved so much this year," the trainer said. "He is just a different horse and Kieren Fallon rides him very well. And I really like African Story (the mount of Silvestre De Sousa). He also is a much better horse now. He hit his head on the stalls very badly on his last run, so we must forget about it and give him another chance."
Asked for his best prospect of a winner, Bin Suroor highlighted the chances of Cavalryman (US$1 million Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup sponsored by Al Tayer Motors) and Shuruq (US$1 million Group 2 Godolphin Mile sponsored by Meydan Sobha), before adding: "I am hoping all my horses will run well."
Bin Suroor is a veteran of the World Cup stage but Appleby gets his first dance on it, having taken over Al Marmoum Stables in May. Appleby is thus savouring his inaugural Dubai World Cup Carnival, at which he has saddled six winners to date.
"We are very fortunate in that it has gone well," he said. "We had a few nice winners early on. To win with our first runner, Ahtoug, was a bit of a dream."
Ahtoug subsequently progressed to secure his place in the US$1 million Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint sponsored by IPIC on Saturday. "He is improving and enjoying himself," Appleby said.
"Everything is going right for him." Like Bin Suroor, Appleby has two contenders in the night's feature race, which has drawn a maximum field of 16. He acknowledged that Cat O'Mountain must overcome a difficult post position in stall 15 but the horse's well-being is such that he is not despondent.
"We have been very happy with his preparation and he has the ability to accelerate on the all-weather surface," Appleby said of Mickael Barzalona's mount. "The draw is not ideal but it's not the end of the world." Vancouverite, for his part, has an ideal berth in stall 3. "He has got natural speed and will be handy from the start, so his post position suits him well," Appleby reasoned.
Of his other six runners, Appleby became animated about the prospects of his Australian import, Long John, in the US$2 million Group 2 U.A.E. Derby sponsored by The Saeed '&' Mohammed Al Naboodah Group over 1900m on the all-weather.
Appleby said of his winner of the Group 3 UAE 2,000 Guineas sponsored by Al Tayer Motors last month: "He was impressive that day and has continued to please us. We know he has speed and the trip is a bit of an unknown, but this race gives him the best opportunity to get it."
Although Appleby's heartbeat is sure to rise when Long John leaves the stalls, he recognises his horses' fate ultimately rests with his jockeys. "It's a world stage and everybody will be here," he said, "but when raceday dawns you can do no more. It's an achievement just to get the horses there. May the best one win." Appleby's sentiments are echoed by Bin Suroor.
"The World Cup is an open race this year," the latter offered. "The horses are all closely matched but we will try and win."