Mubtaahij, ridden by jockey Christophe Soumillon and trained by Mike De Kock, wins the UAE Derby at Meydan. Image Credit: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News

Dubai: When jockey Christophe Soumillon told the world this week that he would lose the weight to ride below his usual minimum, one should have taken notice of him dieting to ride his UAE Derby hope in Mubtaahij. It was certainly worth the diet and a hungry Soumillon rode Shaikh Mohammad Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum’s horse with absolute perfect timing to win by a big margin.

The race started well and the Japanese trio took them along with Tap That and Golden Barows making the early pace. This was again another fast gallop and they were soon joined by compatriot Dear Domus. As they went round the first bend, Godolphin’s main hope was checked badly but he was soon back in the game and joined the action.

With 800 metres to go, these guys were still towing them along but they looked to have gone too quick and sitting in their slipstream was Mubtaahij.

Soumillon shook his reins at the beginning of the straight and overtook the last of his two rivals and scooted clear never to see another rival again. It was so easy from thereon in that Soumillon was able to watch the big screen to look for his rivals. The early leaders had clearly gone too quick and other horses were running on with Maftool finishing best of the rest with a great effort.

Golden Barows stuck on well for third and the Saudi Arabian trained Motaa surprised a few with a strong performance in fourth.

Asked if the race was as easy, Soumillon said: “Yes very easy, I was a bit worried in the gate because the horse was putting his tongue over the bit all the time it’s never good when a horse doesn’t put it under. I was a bit nervous in the gate but finally he jumped out quite well. I had a perfect position just behind the leaders and you could see in last corner I was just cruising behind them I just came easy taking the lead, every time he hits lead early sometimes he looks around so I was making sure he stayed concentrated but when I looked at the big screen I could see the game was over.”

With 100 points earned towards a Kentucky Derby berth, Soumillon responded: “I hope the dates are perfect for our European season, it would be a dream for me to ride this race and I think for the owner and Mike it’s something unbelievable. That’s why I will try my best to be on horse on the day and hopefully he’s in the same form and he’s going to run a great race.”

Master trainer Mike De Kock commented: “He’s improved with every run throughout the carnival you can just see he’s got better and stronger and you know it was one of those preps when everything just goes right, whatever you want to do happens he’s just one of those straight forward lovely horses.” Asked about the plan De Kock responded: “It’s definitely the plan”.

Commenting on Soumillon’s performance, De Kock said: “I’m glad for Chris, he made a massive effort to do the weight, through the carnival he could never do the weight he struggled and Dane was going to ride the race but eventually Christophe decided to do the weight. Dane did nothing wrong but Chris is a stable rider and I’m glad he’s been awarded for the effort.”