Dubai: Shocks and surprises are said to be intrinsic to sport but the second week of the 2020 Dubai World Cup Carnival provided no further proof to that theory with seven of the eight races going the way of the favouritism.
It was left to Charlie Appleby and William Buick to provide the only surprise of the evening when he sent out the 9/1 chance Key Victory over two equally lesser fancied contenders in the Longines Conquest Classic Trophy, the concluding race of the entertaining four-hour long meeting.
Kimbear may have lent some support to the hypothesis, winning the first round of the Al Maktoum Challenge (G3) at odds of 4/1 but his victory over Secret Ambition and favourite North America did not surprise many of his followers, not least his jockey Pat Dobbs.
True, he needed the nod from the judge in a three-way photo finish, but that did not take anything away from his manner of victory in a high-quality race.
“He was very brave today,” said Dobbs. “He was following [North America] and hit a flat point turning in. Then he got a second wind and stuck his head down at the line. Doug [Watson] is a brilliant trainer. He knows how to get them to progress through the year. You’ve got to tip your hat to him,” Dobbs added.
Watson, a Dubai veteran who loves to campaign his horses at Meydan, said “Kimbear ran a great race. He likes a fight.
“Last year was such a struggle and this year he has just done everything right. Those are two nice horses that he just finished with and we were lucky to get away with that.
“Pat gave him a great ride. He was fit today and his works were fantastic. He always needs that first run,” he continued.
“We’ll give him a nice break now. It’s a great win for Shaikh Rashid (Bin Humaid Al Nuaimi). He bought this horse a couple years ago and last year wasn’t his year. Hopefully it is this year.”
One of the hottest favourites on the night was Godolphin’s globetrotting star Benbatl, who justified his cramped 1/8 odds to win the Singspiel Stakes (G2) in decisive fashion.
It was such a pleasure to watch trainer Saeed Bin Surour’s galloper, ridden by big-race jockey Christophe Soumillon, thoroughly enjoying himself as he cantered to the finish, crossing the line well clear of For The Top and Majestic Mambo.
Soumillon, who has built up a strong rapport with Bin Surour, would later describe the manner of Benbatl’s victory as nothing more than a “morning gallop”.
“Saeed wanted me to go handy with Benbatl, so I just let him jump out and he got to the front very easily,” said the Belgian ace.
“I was quite surprised to see somebody chasing me on the turn because the pace was quite good, not too slow, and I thought ‘what is going on here?’ My horse had a good blow before that and, although we started racing a bit earlier, he dominated the race.
“He ran a bit fresh, but it is nice step to build on and a good start. Today was more like a morning gallop on his own, whereas next time we will hopefully have the chance to get some cover. We knew today he was the best horse in the race.”
Benbatl was one of a quarter of winners sent out by Godolphin, the others being Bin Surour’s Platinum Star (Dubai Trophy) and the Charlie Appleby trained duo of Zakouski and Key Victory who won Div 1 & II of the Longines Conquest Classic Trophy respectively.
Trainer Satish Seemar may have been denied victory in the Al Maktoum Challenge but he looks to have a Classic contender in Commanding, an impressive winner of the UAE 2,000 Guineas Trial.