Opinion Poll seals glorious treble for Godolphin

Cirrus Des Aigles claims Sheema Classic; Cityscape stuns rivals to win Dubai Duty Free

Opinion Poll capped a great night for Godolphin as Frankie Dettori sealed a double on Dubai World Cup night with victory in the Group 3 $1,000,000 Dubai Gold Cup sponsored by Al Tayer Motors which was re-run at Meydan after the Dubai World Cup race.

“It’s been a great night for the team and I’m pleased it’s gone so well for us,” said Dettori who gave Godolphin a flying start by winning the Godolphin Mile. 

“I was very happy to win this race and it all went according to plan.  I think we’ll target the Ascot Gold Cup in June.”

Opinion Poll, runner-up in the Ascot Gold Cup last summer to Fame And Glory, became a millionaire with the victory, his ninth win from 24 starts.

More significantly it gave Godolphin a third win on the nine-race card, including the $10 million Dubai World Cup.

Contested at 3,200m on the Meydan turf course, the race was initially underway at 5:45pm. However, after an incident at the top of the stretch involving Fox Hunt, the race was declared void and rescheduled to be run again after the Dubai World Cup race.

In the initial try, the stewards had instructed the riders to pull up after it was apparent that there was insufficient time to clear the course of the fallen horse.

Fox Hunt’s jockey Silvestre De Sousa was shaken, but otherwise unhurt. De Souza was driven off of the track and resumed riding the remainder of his mounts.

The rescheduled Dubai Gold Cup horses left the gate at 10:25 pm, some 4 1/2 hours after the first attempt.

Makani Bisty made the early running as jockey Glyn Schofield worked hard to keep his mount, Mikhail Glinka, relaxed in second.  The field galloped two by two down the front straight.

Opinion Poll made his move around the far turn and won decisively. Joshua Tree briefly appeared a threat but was no match for the winner.

Sheema Classic

Cirrus Des Aigles  ridden by Olivier Peslier added another richly endowed Group 1 to his impressive haul with a hard fought victory over St Nicholas Abbey in the $5 million Sheema Classic sponsored by Longines in the penultimate race on Dubai World Cup night at Meydan.

British raider Cityscape with James Doyle aboard won the $5 million Dubai Duty Free race with a scorching run in the final stretch of the 1,800m Group 1 contest at Meydan on Saturday.

The crowd had barely settled down after a breathtaking fireworks display during the intermission than they were left gasping with Cityscape’s burst to victory by over four lengths.

The Roger Charlton-trained  six-year-old was ridden aggressively by James Doyle to lower the track record previously held by Mahbooba by 0.14 seconds. He tallied by 4¼ lengths from Mutahadee, who emerged from midfield to claim the runner-up berth, with City Style back in third place.

Cityscape was Doyle’s first winner on Dubai World Cup night. He will never have a more comfortable passage to the winner’s circle after Cityscape stalked Await The Dawn before usurping that front-runner soon after halfway in the 1,800m contest.

“This horse has an amazing turn of foot,” the jockey said. “He just kept finding; he was even idling a little in the closing stages. It was a great feeling and the biggest day in my life.”

Doyle, who has enjoyed a successful spell in Dubai over the winter, only came in for the ride late on after regular rider Steve Drowne was prevented from riding for at least a month after suffering from dizzy spells earlier in the week.

Cityscape was sat on the heels of Await The Dawn, who set off in front under Joseph O'Brien, and when that one dropped back through the pack turning for home Doyle chose his moment to bravely kick for home from a long way out.

That move by the underrated rider paid off perfectly as he left his rivals with far too much to do, coming home in a course-record time. Mutahadee stuck on for a never-closer four-and-a-quarter-length second with City Style third.

This was a first Group 1 victory for a horse with a series of near-misses on his record – most notably in Hong Kong in December, when he was denied in a photo finish. For that reason Charlton, who trains Cityscape on the Berkshire Downs in England, was doubly delighted.

“Everyone keeps telling me the horse needs soft ground but he goes on anything. What he really enjoys is racing on a flat, level track. If we’d stayed at home we’d have had to keep avoiding Frankel (who is also owned by Prince Khalid Abdullah). It made sense to come here.”

Mutahadee finished well under Christophe Soumillon but never had a shot at the winner, who stopped the clock in 1 min 48.60secs. And while City Style ran to expectations in finishing third, the winner was in a class apart.

The three-pronged Hong Kong challenge, headed by Ambitious Dragon, failed to figure. The best of them was Xtension, who finished fifth. Dubawi Gold was withdrawn on veterinary advice just before he was due to load into the stalls. His withdrawal reduced the field to 15.    

Godolphin Mile     

Earlier, Frankie Dettori continued his love affair with the Godolphin Mile posting an emphatic victory aboard African Story for his seventh success in the 1,600m all-weather feature at Meydan on Saturday.

It was a dream start for Godolphin in the second race of the 17th running of the Dubai World Cup giving trainer Saeed bin Suroor his 10th triumph in the Group 2 $1 million race sponsored by Etisalat.

The five-year-old son of Pivotal was clocked in 1:37.52 marking the fourth straight win for the Al Quoz stable and ninth overall in the Dubai World Cup night fixture..

Sitting in third in the early going, African Story rallied to the lead near the 1,200m mark before drawing off to a four-length victory, his fifth in 12 starts overall.

“It was my banker of my night and it was very easy,” said an elated Dettori after surging ahead of the pack in the final 400 metres to win by four lengths.

“I’ve always said this was our best chance of the night,” added trainer Saeed bin Suroor, an eight-time winner in this race. “I was really pleased how he looked coming into the race.”

The Mike de Kock-trained Viscount Nelson rallied for second while pacesetter Red Jazz held the third spot after making the pace through sectional times of :25.54 for the first 400m and :48.93 for 800m.

“Never going to beat the winner, so finishing second was as good as a win,” said Kevin Shea, who rode the runner-up. “Really excited about the run.”

“He was third last year, so pound for pound it was almost an identical run,” said Michael Hills, who was aboard Red Jazz. “He’s been off for a very long time, he didn’t lack race fitness, just that racing edge, but he battled on well when he was headed.”

Richard’s Kid, Haatheq, First City, Shamalgan, Sandagiyr, Derbaas, Dux Scholar, Snaffy and Do It All completed the order of finish.

Dubai Gold Cup

However, the euphoria following African Story's victory turned to tragedy after fellow Godolphin runner Fox Hunt broke down passing the stands for the first time in the Group 3 $1 million Dubai Gold Cup.

Because the fatally injured horse could not be moved, and posed a safety concern, the race was called off as the rest of the field made its way onto the backstretch.

The Dubai Racing Club announced later that they will re-run the Dubai Gold Cup sponsored by Al Tayer Motoros following the Dubai World Cup.

In the opening stages, Japanese raider Makani Bisty showed the way from his rail post. Mikhail Glinka and Irish Flame were in close attendance on the outside. Hung out widest of all was Fox Hunt, who appeared to be a bit overeager seeing all of the daylight in front of him. Just to his inside, and drafting behind the front rank, was Opinion Poll.

Then Fox Hunt broke down badly, and the way that he plunged to the turf suggested that his injury was indeed a bad one. Jockey Silvestre de Sousa apparently escaped injury in the spill.

The loss of Fox Hunt was a bitter blow to Godolphin.

The opening Group 1 $250,000 Dubai Kahayla Classic went to Qatar for the second time after the US import TM Fred Texas stormed clear in the straight. He beat Seraphin Du Paon by one and three quarter lengths, while Timadit Al Mels finished a further three quarter lengths back in third place.

Two years after Jaafer took the Group 1 PA Dubai Kahayla Classic for the first time to Qatar, the grey TM Fred Texas proved that the Qatari Purebred Arabian racing is in rude

The five-year-old son of Burning Sand and Queen Kong had sweated up a bit before the start of the 2,000m race, which was run on the all-weather track. Winning Dutch jockey Adrie De Vries, who usually rides in Germany, but who spends his winters in Doha, was over the moon to lift this prestigious race again.

He said: “I had a lovely race. It is great to win it again as this is such an important race.” Adrie De Vries has a great affinity with Purebred Arabians and although he wasn’t favoured by draw number 13, he certainly knew how to ride the track. Albar Lotois, trained by Eric Lemartinel in Abu Dhabi, had taken the lead after no one else seemed to want to go and set the pace. He was closely followed by Fryvolous and Dariya, while the eventual winner TM Fred Texas sat patiently in mid-field.

Coming into the final straight, the order remained much the same, but once they straightened up Richard Hills made his move on Versac PY. TM Fred Texas also quickened and while the His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum owned colt got tired in the last stages, the US import just proved too strong.

Adrie de Vries added: “I was a little bit concerned about the draw, but I could settle him behind Richard Hills. He brought me a long way and I was travelling so well, it was great and I was really never that concerned.”

TM Fred Texas, trained by Ronald Martino, got a little bit hot before the race, but his jockey continued: “He is a bit long in his coat, but it wasn’t too hot today, so he didn’t lose too much energy. This horse only came to Qatar a month ago from America and I was chuffed to ride him and to win this race again.”

The Group 3 $1 million Dubai Gold Cup, sponsored by Al Tayer Motors was declared a no race when stewards stopped the field when the track could not be cleared of the fallen horse Fox Hunt, who suffered a mishap as the field went past the 300 metre on the first lap.

Daddy Long Legs wins $2 million UAE Derby

Daddy Long Legs has won the $2 million UAE Derby, holding off a late charge from Yang Tse Kiang to give trainer Aidan O'Brien at least one victory on Saturday.

The Peter Snowden-trained Helmet came out the gates first and held the lead over Daddy Long Legs halfway through the 1,900- meter (yard) race.

Daddy Long Legs took the lead and led for the rest of the way, beating Yang Tse Kiang by. The favorite Wrote finished third.

O'Brien's victory comes a year after his horse Master of Hounds lost a photo finish to Khawlah in the same race.

Race to be rerun

The Dubai World Cup meeting suffered a tragedy on Saturday when a horse broke a leg and fell early on in one of the supporting races on the card and had to be put down.

Jockey Silvestre de Sousa, riding Fox Hunt for Godolphin in the Dubai Gold Cup, emerged unscathed but the race was stopped as the runners went down the back straight with Fox Hunt still lying stricken.

 The contest was declared void but after discussions with trainers track officials announced it would be re-run at the end of the evening.

Godolphin trainer Mahmoud al-Zarooni told Reuters: "The horse clipped his heel and came down. They had to put him down. Silvestre is fine."

It was an unhappy setback for Godolphin who had earlier won the Mile race with African Story, the 5-6 favourite ridden by Frankie Dettori.

Ortensia wins $1 million Al Quoz Sprint

Ortensia of Australia won the $1 million Al Quoz Sprint, edging Sole Power and favorite Joy And Fun on Saturday.

The race made history as jockey Hayley Turner became the first woman to ride in a Dubai World Cup meeting, finishing 10th on Margot Did. Chantal Sutherland will become the first woman later in evening to ride in the $10 million Dubai World Cup when she climbs aboard Game On Dude.

Regally Ready, Addictive Dream and Monsieur Joe jumped out to the early lead, only to fade down the stretch in the 1,000-meter turf race. The Herman Brown-trained August Rush then briefly grabbed the lead before Ortensia surged in front.

Dubai Golden Shaheen winner

Krypton Factor struck a huge blow for Bahrain trainer Fawzi Nass when finishing off the race best of all under the powerful urgings of Kieren Fallon to wear down defending champion Rocket Man and Felix Coetzee, drawing away in the final 100m to win the Group 1 US$ 2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen by two and a quarter lengths.

Rocket Man broke alertly from gate 1 to take an early but never uncontested lead. He was pressed all the way in the early stages by U.S challenger Giant Ryan who led briefly going into the turn before Rocket Man reasserted.

At the head of the straight Rocket Man found more and looked briefly to have shaken off the pursuing pack, but it was quickly apparent that danger was lurking behind in the shape of Krypton Factor, whom Fallon had launched in pursuit of the Singapore champion. The gap narrowed and Krypton Factor ran on to wear down the long-time leader, and win a shade cosily at the wire.

Of the remainder Hong Kong sprinter Lucky Nine ran on to be third under Brett Prebble two further lengths adrift, with a further length back to Hitchens and Silvestre De Sousa in fourth.

The win marked a first thoroughbred success at the Dubai World Cup for the Kingdom of Bahrain, and afterwards a delighted Fawzi Nass said,  “He had never faced competition as tough as this, but we still felt confident going into the race. We knew there would be a lot of pace, so thought it would be best to sit off it. Then Kieren angled him out and that was that. We may go to Singapore next and we’ll be thinking about Royal Ascot as well depending on how things go.”

Winning jockey Kieren Fallon said, “This horse has continued to improve all through the Dubai World Cup Carnival, and I knew he was in good form. He was always going well for me tonight and I’d love to ride him at Royal Ascot.”

Rocket Man’s jockey  Felix Coetzee was gracious in defeat, saying:  “He’s such a professional. Going to the start he was composed and knew exactly what was going on. He flew out so fast and landed in front and was going well in front, though he was being pressed by the American horse, which wasn’t ideal, but he never stopped.”

Disappointment of the race was the Bob Baffert-trained The Factor, who never flashed his expected early speed an finished a lack lustre sixth. His jockey Rafael Bejarano said the horse had every chance but ran like a tired horse.

Krypton Factor stopped the clock in 1:10:79, in the fastest renewal of the Dubai Golden Shaheen since its relocation to Meydan. 



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