Dubai: Britain’s Sole Power has been among Europe’s leading sprinters for many seasons, but he has never excelled in Dubai. All that changed at Meydan on Saturday, when the eight-year-old came with a beautifully timed run to win the Group 1 $1 million Al Quoz Sprint under Richard Hughes.
It was the horse’s 22nd run in a Group 1 race and his first victory in Dubai, which came at his ninth attempt.
Hughes showed exemplary timing in delivering the Edward Lynam-trained gelding from the rear. Last year’s winner, Amber Sky, set blistering early fractions and fought hard to resist fellow Hong Kong challenger Peniaphobia throughout the last 200 metres.
Peniaphobia eventually reeled in the trail-blazer inside the final furlong, yet no sooner had he seized the advantage than Hughes pounced closest to the stands’ rail.
Owned by Sabena Power — whose husband, David, is founder of the Irish bookmaking giant Paddy Power — Sole Power tallied by a half-length from Peniaphobia, who had the same margin in hand of Green Mask.
Frankie Dettori, who rode Green Mask, felt his horse would have finished closer had he not been isolated from the early pace in stall one. Amber Sky held on for fourth place ahead of Bundle Of Joy and Sir Maximilian. The winner was timed at 57.24 seconds over the 1,000-metre trip.
Hototo (GB) and Lancelot De Lac (ITY) were slow from the stalls and trailed throughout.
Sole Power could finish only seventh in this race 12 months ago, after which he blitzed to a Group 1 double in England. He also ran without zest when finishing 12th of 16 runners in a Group 3 won by Sir Maximilian over course and distance three weeks earlier.
“I don’t know what Eddie [Lynam] has done to him since, but it worked,” Hughes joked afterwards. “To ride any winner is a good feeling but big ones on this night take some beating.”
Lynam was overjoyed to see his stable star finally come good in the desert. “He’s put his CV up [to be a top European sprinter] today,” he said. “He has just come to himself and on his day he was always capable of doing this.”
This was the last time Hughes, a multiple champion jockey in England, will ride on Dubai World Cup night. He recently announced he is to retire from the saddle at the end of the season to embark on a training career.
Hughes will be the second high-profile rider Sole Power will see off into retirement after Johnny Murtagh in 2013 — but there is no sign of the evergreen sprinter joining them.
Sole Power remains an explosive character, as he showed when carting his exercise rider on the all-weather training track here three days before the race.
He will now return to Lynam’s stable in Ireland to be prepared for the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.