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17 April 2024

Maldonado times it right as Two Rivers Over runs down leaders late

By E247

$1,000,000 Group 2 Godolphin Mile Sponsored by EMAAR

In a thrilling finish to the Godolphin Mile, it was the Doug O’Neill trainee Two Rivers Over that enjoyed the last laugh.
The American raider knuckled down to chase a resolute Walk Of Stars on the rail and defending champion Isolate in the closing stages to provide a second winner for O’Neill in the mile event and a maiden winner on World Cup night for his pilot Edwin Maldonado.
There were no surprises in the early part of the race as Tadhg O’Shea, aboard Bhupat Seemar-trained Walk Of Stars, pressed forward to grab the fence.
Highly touted Saudi Crown was, surprisingly, kept three wide despite a good beginning with Isolate finding the overall lead comfortably albeit away from the plastic. The winner was nursed into a handy early spot in the vanguard just off the pace. 
Rounding for home, a flat-footed Saudi Crown began to give way as the front two – eventual runner-up and third – began to put distance between themselves and the field. It was not until the last 100 metres that Two Rivers Over began diminishing the leaders’ advantage, eventually getting up to score by a cosy half length. 
There was little involvement from the rest at the finish with Southern Artist staying on best to grab a distant fourth on the line, just ahead of Desert Wisdom. 
"I am extremely happy about how it’s worked out for us and it’s amazing that we have won the Godolphin Mile in the presence of HH Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum," said Leandro Mora, who supervises trainer Doug O'Neill's travelling challenge in the United Arab Emirates.
"I actually asked Edwin to stay closer to the pace but it did not work out that way. He knew he was in a little bit of trouble but the horse responded for him.”
Maldonado has known plenty of injury ups and downs during his career in Southern California and produced a ride of rare quality here.
"He is not a horse that takes the kickback well so I was hoping he would be close in the run and he was," said Maldonado. "When he came into the stretch I was confident I would get there because I had him in the clear, outside of kickback. He’s very genuine. He gave me everything.”
Co-owner Todd Cady was understandably emotional after welcoming Two Rivers Over back to the number one spot.
Cady said: “What an experience! We were happy to be a part of the occasion but we knew it would be hard to win with the likes of Saudi Crown and Isolate in the field. He was so tough and classy in the finish.
"What a job by Edwin [jockey, Maldonado] and Doug [O’Neill, trainer] and Leandro [Mora, assistant trainer]. We are so thrilled."
Speaking from California, trainer Doug O'Neill said: "I am so proud of this horse. The owners are the ones who picked him out to claim. They have been super-patient and supportive. He's a young four-year-old on the rise."
Walk Of Stars (2nd), trainer Bhupat Seemar said: "He’s one of those horses that once he passes another horse, he always stops. So he has to be produced last minute but it just so happened that we were drawn inside and Isolate was right on top of us and we couldn’t get him a breather. If he has something to come and aim at, he goes and beats them, but once he’s in front he stops."
Isolate (3rd), jockey Luis Saez said: "Pretty good trip. He broke running from there and we ended up on the lead. He was comfortable, just got a little tired in the end. (Did you expect to make the lead that easily?) Not really because Saudi Crown is a pretty fast horse. He ran pretty hard."
Southern Artist (4th), jockey Antonio Fresu said: “He was considered an outsider but I didn’t believe he got the respect he deserved. When I rode him in January, he ran really well and he just got beaten on the line by a very good horse [Hypothetical]. He didn’t run as expected the last time. Today, I wish I was drawn a little bit lower because then I didn’t have to be so wide, but I don’t think it would have changed anything. I think finishing fourth was a great effort and an amazing job done by Bhupat Seemar and his team.”
Desert Wisdom (5th), jockey Adrie de Vries said: "He jumped well and had a good trip round on the fence.”
Caramel Chip (6th), jockey Cristian Demuro said: “It wasn’t bad. He was behind the pace from the winner and Saudi Crown but they were too strong for my horse at the moment.”
Scotland Yard (7th), jockey Luis Morales said: “They went fast and my horse, he didn’t show much speed in the beginning. He was gaining but unfortunately the other horses went better.” 
Swing Vote (8th), jockey William Buick said: “He ran pretty good, it’s a bit sharp for him on this track at a mile. He’ll be a nice mile and a quarter horse for over here next year.”
Eastern World (9th), jockey Connor Beasley said: “He jumped and travelled away good. Obviously the step up to a mile just stretched him
Qareeb (10th), jockey Oscar Chavez said: "It was tight on the start and my horse had difficulty right then. It was all over at the start.
Remorse (11th), jockey Pat Cosgrave said: “He was only having his second start of the year, he probably just found it too much. He only ran fresh three weeks ago, he just didn’t finish off today. Next year.”
Saudi Crown (12th), jockey Florent Geroux said: “He was flat today. I’m afraid he ran too hard last time and it looked like he bounced. He was very nervous before the race too and that’s not usually him.”
Pacholli (13th), jockey Jose Da Silva said: "She didn’t jump well and she ended up last. There was too much kickback. She never ran.”