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Capezzano, ridden by jockey Mickael Barzalona, wins the Al Maktoum Challenge (Round 3) race. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Trainer Salem Bin Ghadayer described Capezzano, an imperious winner of Round 3 of the Al Maktoum Challenge (Group 1) Sponsored By Emirates Airline, as a horse with a bright future and that future could not be too far away.

Ridden aggressively by jockey Mickael Barzalona, the five-year-old son of Bernardini stamped himself as a leading contender for the $12 million Dubai World Cup (G1) in three weeks’ time when delivering the performance of his career at Meydan Racecourse on Saturday evening.

After breaking smartly in front of a packed and animated crowd at the majestic Meydan Grandstand at the start of the 2,000 metre contest, Capezzano effortlessly hit the front to lead his nine rivals — all hoping to announce themselves as contenders for the Dubai World Cup on March 30.

But it was never going to be as Barzalona was able to dictate proceedings aboard a willing ally and the pair made every post a winning one, before Capezzano slipped into top gear approaching the 600 metre marker and pulled away for one of the most impressive victories seen in the race.

Everything went well today. He ran just like he has in both his past two wins on this track. Once we hit the front I was happy to allow him to settle into the race and when we turned for home I let him go.

- Mickael Barzalona, Jockey

Thunder Snow, the reigning Dubai World Cup champion, finished in the runner-up position for the second year in succession, on this occasion nine and a half lengths behind the winner. Korean raider Dolkong finished well to take third place a neck behind Christophe Soumillon’s second placer.

“This horse is simply amazing,” said Bin Ghadayer. “He’s a horse with a future.

“I’m so happy, what can I say. He’s an honest horse, even when he won over a mile he ran an amazing race. So we thought why not run him over 10 furlongs. There is a sign in his pedigree that shows he can get this trip.

“I want to thank His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, for sending me this horse,” he added.

Shaikh Mohammad was present on Saturday along with Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, to watch the performance.

Barzalona said that the key to Capezzano’s winning performance was the way that he was trained at home at the Fazza Racing Stables.

“He’s trained for speed at home,” said the French rider. “He’s got a lot of tactical gate speed and once he gets to the front he gets into a nice high-speed rhythm.

“Everything went well today. He ran just like he has in both his past two wins on this track. Once we hit the front I was happy to allow him to settle into the race and when we turned for home I let him go. He showed me so much of speed and ability. He’s very special and we look forward to exciting times with him.”

Although Godolphin were denied victory in the race with Thunder Snow securing second, the Dubai-owned stable swept four of the seven races on the card, including a hat-trick by trainer Charlie Appleby with Divine Image (Al Bastakiya Sponsored by emirates.com), Blue Point (Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint Sponsored by Arabian Adventures) and Old Persian (Dubai City Of Gold sponsored by Emirates SkyCargo).

Saeed Bin Surour, who trains Thunder Snow, won the concluding event, Jebel Hatta Sponsored By Emirates Airline, with Dream Castle.

Commenting on Old Persian’s victory, Appleby said: “He’s a horse who’s got a bright future ahead of him. He’s a multiple Group 2 winner now and won at Royal Ascot. He beat Cross Counter and we know what he went on to do.

“Coming into this evening, we were pleased with his preparation, but we firmly have our eyes set on the (Longines Dubai) Sheema Classic. There’s a little bit of improvement still there to come.”

Reigning UAE champion trainer Doug Watson was not to be denied his share of the spotlight with a pair of victories, courtesy Drafted in the Mahab Al Shimaal Sponsored By Emirates Skywards and Muntazah in the Burj Nahaar Sponsored By Emirates Holidays, both Group 3 races.