World Cup night was truly international

By ROBERT KIECKHEFER, UPI Racing Writer  |  March 30, 2013 at 5:21 PM
share with facebook
share with twitter

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, March 30 (UPI) -- Dubai World Cup night once again lived up to its name.

Saturday's races found horses from all around the world taking home purse money. It also provided a springboard to races as diverse as Royal Ascot and the upcoming Kentucky Derby.

The Godolphin Racing "home team," as usual, did well. But its two wins on the night came in the lesser races, leaving more than the usual prizes for the invaders.

And, to cap things off, the $10 million World Cup was taken down in dramatic fashion by Animal Kingdom, an American horse set to head for Australia to begin his stud career.

How much more "world" can you get?

Two of the winners were South African horses trained by Dubai powerhouse Mike De Kock -- Soft Falling Rain in the $1 million, Group 2 Godolphin Mile and Shea Shea in the $1 million, Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint. De Kock said both will head for England and prep for races at Royal Ascot in June.

Lines of Battle won the $2 million, Group 2 UAE Derby, earning 100 points toward a start in the May 4 Kentucky Derby and trainer Aidan O'Brian said that's exactly where the American-bred War Front colt is headed. He finished seventh in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita in his last previous start, so he's used to the travel.

British-based world traveler St Nicholas Abbey bested Japan's top horse, Gentildonna, in the $5 million, Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic.

French-based Verema, owned by the Aga Khan, finished third in the $1 million, Group 3 Dubai Gold Cup. Joy and Fun and Eagle Regiment came from Hong Kong to run second and third in the Al Quoz Sprint. Irish-based Balmont Mast was second in the $2 million, Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen.

The $5 million Group 1 Dubai Duty Free went to Godolphin's Sajjhaa. But De Kock scored again as The Apache took second for South Africa and Giofra was third under the French banner.

While St Nicholas Abbey and Gentildonna were duking it out in the Sheema Classic, Very Nice Name, a no-name horse from nearby Doha, jumped up to take third, indicating Dubai may be getting some neighborly competition soon.

Red Cadeaux, who finished second to Animal Kingdom in the night's feature, is owned by former Hong Kong Jockey Club Chairman Ronald Arculli and counts the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Vase among his top wins. Arculli said he now has "a few options to consider" for the horse -- the Audemars Piguet QE II Cup at home in Hong Kong, the Singapore Airlines Singapore Cup in May or the Tenno Sho (Spring) in Japan.

Adding to the international flavor of the week, the Meydan Group, which developed the Dubai racing showplace, announced during World Cup week it will work with officials in Chengdu, China, to develop a racing program there, staring with a meeting in October.

For all the international success, five of the eight Thoroughbred race winners either are based in the UAE or came early enough to get a practice race over the course during the World Cup Carnival. De Kock is a big believer in that approach.

"Coming here is not easy," De Kock said after Shea Shea won the Al Quoz Sprint. "The horses do better the longer they are here and horses like him are geared for these type of races."

Underscoring that point, Shea Shea had two previous races over the Meydan turf course. He finished seventh in the first, then won the second.

Topics: Mike De Kock
Trending Stories