Dubai: James Doyle capped a career-defining season in the UAE by delivering a master-class aboard Cityscape to post an authoritative victory in the $5 million Dubai Duty Free (G1) at Meydan yesterday.
Prepared by Epsom Derby-winning trainer Roger Charlton in Wiltshire, England, the six-year-old son of Selkir was always travelling in good style under Doyle. Sitting handy behind Irish hope Await The Dawn, he took up the lead at the top of the straight and pulled away of the 13-horse field to win by four-and-a-quarter lengths.
Cityscape clocked a fast 1min 48.65sec to set a track record for 1,800 metres at Meydan, breaking the previous mark set by Mahbooba in January. Mutahadee, winner of the Jebel Hatta (G1) on Super Saturday at Meydan, was second under Christophe Soumillon, while Mahamoud Al Zarouni-trained City Style took third for jockey Mickael Barzalona. Doyle has been something of a revelation this season, winning 23 races since he arrived in November as a stand-in jockey at the Jebel Ali Stables.
However, his ultra-professional performance in the Duty Free will seal his reputation as a jockey to follow. Shortly after receiving his trophy, he also received an invite to ride in the Dubai Duty Free-sponsored Shergar Cup at Ascot this year.
"[I'm] not really surprised because although this is his first time over 1,800 metres, he has got a turn of foot and he stays well and the key to him is he stays so well in his races early on. I'm not surprised he's won at all. My mouth is so dry I'm struggling to speak. It's the biggest day of my life, without a doubt."
Charlton, who won the English Derby in 1990 with Quest of Fame and the French equivalent the same year with Sanglamore, was delighted and said: "The horse has been really consistent and has been training really well. He had a good preparation at home and he's come out here and not lost any weight.
"I thought it was the most competitive race on the card and I didn't think he'd break the track record and win by four-and-a-quarter lengths.
"There's the possibility of Hong Kong, Singapore or he could stay at home. But he'll go back to England and I think we'll look at that. Obviously the owner will choose where he has to go, which is a very happy option right now."
Charlton has always rated Cityscape highly following his Group 3 wins in Ireland and France last summer, which were backed up by a noteworthy third to Canford Cliffs in the Queen Anne Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot. On his final start of the season in the Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin, he was an unlucky second to Able One, beaten only a nose.
Soumillon, the rider of Mutahadee, said: "In the straight I knew I was beaten because the winner just took off and left me behind. I could see how well he was going and I knew he wasn't going to come back to me. He gave everything he had and I'm happy because maybe Master of Hounds will now have a better chance in the Dubai World Cup than I thought."
— With additional inputs from Alaric Gomes, Senior Reporter, and Ashley Hammond, Staff Reporter