Lord of Meydan
Saturday’s Dubai World Cup threw up several outstanding performances, but perhaps none more so than the one delivered by Lord North, who ran out a sensational winner of the $4 million Dubai Turf, to kick-start the new father-and-son training partnership of John and Thandy Gosden.
The Dubai entire was without doubt the show-stealer at the 25th Anniversary celebrations of the Dubai World Cup meeting, even if stable companion Mishriff would challenge him for bragging rights after battling hard to win the $4 million Dubai Sheema Classic a half-hour later,
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Gosden Snr is one of the most highly regarded handlers in the world and Lord North drove that fact home with his blistering finishing thrust under an already ebullient Frankie Dettori.
The winning margin was four lengths but the class and authority that Lord North displayed was not done justice. He was the best horse on display at Meydan that night and his rivals have been warned he will return to the UK to challenge for the top middle-distance races such as the Prince of Wales’s Stakes that he won last year.
Surprise of the night
Godolphin’s long-desired hope of winning the Kentucky Derby were rekindled in the UAE Derby when Rebel’s Romance upped his game to upstage a classy field with an emphatic five-and-a-half length victory.
With that performance, Godolphin’s homebred son of Dubawi earned 100 points on the Kentucky Derby leader board, ensuring him a spot in the May 1 Louisville showpiece, provided he gets the go ahead by the stable’s driving force, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Godolphin already have a genuine contender in the ‘Run For The Roses’ in the undefeated Essential Quality and should Rebel’s Romance join him that would make for a formidable team.
Godolphin’s robust breeding machinery has produced some exciting three-year-olds in recent years and it looks like it will be only a matter of time before they add the American Classic to their list of honours. Rebels Romance won at attractive odds of 8/1 and was easily one of the surprise elements of the night.
Thriller on the turf
Less than a month ago, Mishriff pounced down the dirt track at Riyadh to win the world’s richest race, the $12 million Saudi Cup and he would demonstrate his versatility and toughness when switched to turf to capture the $4 million Dubai Sheema Classic.
But it was not the easiest of victories for the John and Thandy Gosden-trained colt who was making his first start at the extended mile-and-a-half trip.
However, with the rapidly maturing 21-year-old David Egan once against riding a flawless race, just as he had done in the Saudi Cup, Mishriff would defy the odds, and a pair of dangerous Japanese challenger in Chrono Genesis and Loves Only You in a nerve-wracking finish.
Having race at the back of the nine-horse field, Mishriff made up ground as the race progress and delved deep into his superior stamina and finishing speed to hold off the Japanese pair.
Godolphin’s Space Blues went into the Group 1 Al Quoz sprint as the night’s shortest favourite but was clearly not the same horse, who was on a five-race winning streak.
After breaking for the 1,000m turf contest Space Blues raced in mid-division and never looked like he would find the spark that has seen him be such a dominant force to trail in a disappointing ninth of 13 runners. Appleby would take the blame for that defeat, saying that is was conceivable that Space Blues had been over-raced in the early stages and was perhaps better suited over a long seven-furlong trip.
On the other end of the spectrum, the race was won by Extravagant Kid who was trained by former Dubai-based Brendon Walsh, who is now based in America.
Last but not least by far was the spectacular tribute to the late Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the former Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, featuring a show of drones. Created by Sky Magic together with events agency HOWS, the drones delivered a stunning three-minute performance that incorporated a brilliantly illuminated Dubai World Cup logo, a falcon and an Arabian horse motif.
It was a captivating finale made possible by the use of 80 drones each carrying remotely programmed LED lights to create mesmerising shapes in the night sky.