Dettori In Fine Form at Meydan for World Cup
The racing festival at Meydan in the UAE had its final weekend with the World Cup as the flat racing season begins in Europe at Doncaster and the Curragh. In dressage and showjumping, there were no 5 star classes, but the Spanish Sunshine tour at Jerez de la Frontera staged the final weekend on the tour.
At the Meydan track in the UAE, there were four Group 1 races with the final race of the racing festival, The Dubai World Cup worth over £5 million prize money to the winner. The first of the Group 1 races was the Golden Shaheen Sprint in which 13 runners took part. This was won by Switzerland, an 8year old gelding bred in the USA by Speightstown. He is trained in the UAE by B. Seemar and ridden by Tadhg O’Shea. He was definitely an outsider in the race but won comfortably by nearly 2 lengths. The 6 furlong race was run on dirt and the ground was given as fast. The Dubai Turf over I mile 1 furlong was on good ground, and this was the first of the last three Group 1 races to be worth over £1 million to the winning connections.
There were 14 runners lining up and Frankie Dettori kept John and Thady Gosden’s Lord North in mid division before producing him to take the race, but also going well was the Japanese trained Panthalassa, trained in Japan by Yoshito Yahagi and ridden by Japanese jockey, Yutaka Yoshida. The pair crossed the line at the same time and the race was judged a dead heat. In third was another Japanese runner, Vin De Garde. He was always at the back of the field and came through with an electric run just to miss out behind the other two by a nose.
The final two races, worth well over 2 million each started with the Longines Dubai Sheema Classic over 1 ½ miles on the turf. Fifteen runners went to post. Charlie Appleby had the favourite for the race, Yibir for the Godolphin team. The winner however, had a comfortable cruise in the race, tracking the leaders until the final furlong when jockey Cristian Dumoro asked his mount to press on and take the race by a neck. Sharyrar, a 4 year old colt by Deep Impact, the winner is trained Japan by Hideaki Fujiwara. He just beat the Godolphin favourite ridden by William Buick. Yibir is a 4 year old gelding by Dubawi and is the previous winner of the Longines Breeders Cup in November last year. Third home was another colt from Japan – Authority.
The final race of the festival was of course the jewel in the crown for Dubai racing at Meydan – The Dubai World Cup with a prize pot of £10 million. There were ten runners for this contest over 1 mile 2 furlongs on the fast dirt ground. Needless to say, as usual, the USA had a large contingent lining up with half of the runners. The rest came from Ireland with three runners, (all three trained in the UAE though) and one each from Brazil and Japan. The race was led by Life Is Good from the USA along with Midnight Bourbon, another contender from the USA and Hypothetical. Frankie Dettori rode the winner however, County Grammer, a 5 year old stallion trained by Bob Baffert. Keeping the horse always in mid division, Frankie asked him the question about 2 furlongs out with a great response from the horse who went onto win the race by 1 ¾ lengths. The second home was another from the USA – Red Hot Charlie trained by Doug O’Niell and ridden by Flavien Pratt. He also trackled the leaders, but when asked, did not have the power to take on the winner. The third home was Chuwa Wizard from Japan.
The first race on the card at Doncaster was as tradition demanded, The SPK Brocklesby Stakes for 2 year olds over 5 furlongs. The usual plethora of trainers training early 2 year olds was on show with Richard Hannon reigning supreme in this first 2 year old race of 2022 with Persian Force, a colt by Mehmas. There were 12 runners. The winner was ridden by Rossa Ryan. The main race of the day way the big SPK Lincoln Handicap for 4 year olds and up over the straight mile. There were 22 runners taking on the good to soft conditions. Mick Channon sent out the winner, Johan with Silvestra De Sousa on board, winning by just over a length. Taking nothing away from the winning trainer, it is unusual for Mick Channon to get going quite so early. Like the trainer of the West Ilsley Stables before him, Major Dick Hern, the stables always seem to be in a cold spot near Lambourn and as a result very often do not see winners much before the middle of April.
At the Curragh, again the card stared with a race for 2 year olds. The ground was given as ‘yielding’, which on one occasion and Irishman once told me was another word for ‘shit’! Be that as it may, the 9 runner race was won by Ocean Quest trained by Jessica Harrington and ridden by Shane Foley by a head. Ocean Quest was the first runner of newbie stallion, Sioux Nation. The Curragh did stage one group race, the Group 3 Lodge Park Stud Park Express Stakes for fillies and mares over 1 mile. The race was won by Mother Earth from Aidan O’Brien and of course the winner of the Newmarket 1000 Guineas last year. It was hardly a convincing win as she only just got home ahead of Insinuendo. Ryan Moore was Mother Earth’s pilot. He must have been one of the very few top jockeys not in Dubai?
As the competition wound down in Jerez de la Frontera after a seven week show, the show jumpers finished with a Grand Prix Final sponsored by Longines. This was a 4 star FEI CSI with jumps up to 1.55m. Again Uliano Vezzani from Italy was in attendance to design and build the 13 obstacle course over 505 meters with a time allowed of 81 seconds. There were 50 riders in the class. Of the 50 riders, eleven retired which left 39. Of those 39, only one went clear, so there was no jump off. The only clear went to Spanish rider Enrique Camiruaga riding Vintage, an eleven year old Holstein by Verdi. The second on the podium was a fellow Spaniard with the fastest time with 4 faults – Santiago Nunez Riva riding Valentino de Hus. Again with 4 faults, the third spot was won by James Wilson, a British rider riding Imagine de Muze. Apart from the winner, there were 12 riders collecting 4 faults in the first round which made this final Grand Prix rather odd as the times for the first round in any showjumping class of this type are usually irrelevant, but not this time!
In the dressage final Grand Prix at CDI 3 star level, 22 combinations came forward for the five judges. The winner with 74.000% was Joao Victor Marcari Oliva riding Escorial Horsecampline from Brazil. The second was from Spain in the shape of Juan Antonio Jimenez Cobo riding Euclides Mor with 71.282% with the third spot taken by France’s Morgan Barbancon riding Bolero with 71.000% there were only three other riders with scores of 70% or over.
In the Grand Prix Special, Juan Cobo won with Euclides Mor with exactly 71% and was followed by Corentin Pottier riding Gotilas with 70.362% from France and third was another Brazilian – Pedro Manuel Tavares de Almeida with 69.669%. There were twelve participants in this class.
The Grand Prix Freestyle was taken by the Grand Prix winner from Brazil Joao Victor Marcari Oliva riding Escorial Horsecampline with 78.535% ahead of the other seven combinations in the class. In second was Morgan Barbancon with 75.335% and third was Vasco Mira Godinho riding Garrett from Portugal.