Animal Kingdom ends US' Dubai World Cup hoodoo
The Americans always used to have a formidable Dubai World Cup record when it was contested at Nad Al Sheba on traditional dirt.
They provided the winner eight times between 1996, when they won the inaugural running with Cigar and 2009, the final race at the old course won by Well Armed. However, in the four years since the switch to Meydan and Tapeta they had struggled, until last night that is.
Animal Kingdom, Kentucky Derby winner in 2011, powered clear of his 11 rivals to win the 2000m world’s richest horse race in style.
Trained by Graham Motion, he carries the colours of Team Valor who owned the remarkable Ipi Tombe, winner of the Dubai Duty Free in 2003 but were having their first Dubai winner since then.
Compatriot Royal Delta tried to make all under Mike Smith, but the 5yo mare is far better on dirt than Tapeta and she cried enough when Joel Rosario swept past on Animal Kingdom early in the straight.
It was a first ride in the race for the jockey and Motion was saddling his first runner in the contest. “It is just a dream come true,” said an overwhelmed Motion.
“We targeted this race last year but he was injured in his final piece of work before leaving home but it has been the aim ever since and the plan worked.
“We knew the surface would suit him and he travelled over well and settled straight in. His work was good and we were very very hopeful beforehand. Joel has done everything right.”
An ecstatic Rosario added: “It is amazing. To even be here riding in these races is a privilege but to win the world’s richest horse race – wow – I am almost lost for words.”
With last year’s winner Monterosso withdrawn on Saturday morning after being found to be lame in his near foreleg, Godolphin pinned their hopes on Hunter’s Light.
He did not really settle in the early stages under regular jockey Silvestre De Sousa, but still had every chance as Animal Kingdom went before home. Yet the horse expected to make it a sixth Dubai World Cup win for trainer Saeed bin Suroor seemed to tire after those early exertions.
It was left to UK raiders Red Cadeaux and Planteur to chase home the comfortable winner with both finishing well. Turning for home Gerald Mosse had only two rivals behind him on Red Cadeaux who finished fast over a trip very much on the short side for him.
His trainer, Ed Dunlop, was celebrating as if he had won a big race but with the runner-up taking $2million (Dh7.3m) of the $10m (Dh36.7m) on offer, that was clearly understandable.
Mosse said: “This horse never ceases to amaze me. To run second in the Dubai World Cup and get within two lengths of Animal Kingdom, I’ve got to be happy with that.”
Just as he had done last year, the Marco Botti-trained Planteur missed the break before settling in the rear and making up a lot of ground in the straight. He grabbed third right on the line under former UK Champion Jockey Ryan Moore.
“He was third last year, third this year. I was happy enough with his run,” said Moore.
Disappointment for Godolphin
Last year’s runner-up, the Mahmood Al Zarooni-trained Capponi, never threatened to land a blow on his seasonal return and finished last of the runners.
And there was not much joy for Godolphin’s other two hopes as Kassiano was never dangerous in coming in ninth. Jockey William Buick said: “Didn’t get helped by the draw. “This was different company than he has been beating at Meydan this year. When it came to the business end, class told.”
African Story, trying this trip for the first time, did stay on strongly under Mickael Barzalona, but finished fifth. Barzalona, who replaced Kieren Fallon in the saddle after Monterosso was ruled out, said: “He ran well. The distance maybe was a question but I thought he saw it out okay.”
But now they have broken their Meydan World Cup hoodoo, rest assured the American challenge will be out in force next year.